I’m an only son. I’d be able to buy a private island with several yachts if I had a penny for every time I’ve heard the line: “Oh, what a mama’s boy. How precious.”

Frankly, I don’t know many grown men that like being called a mama’s boy. I love my mom, but being called a mama’s boy makes me feel like I have her misplaced in my priorities. Many guys despise the term so much they throw out all expressions of love toward their moms in an effort to come across as “mature” men. 

But then some of us leave our moms and cleave to our wives so well we forget to consider a mother’s place in our lives after we get married. 

So, how do you honor your mother as a married man without misplacing her in your priorities? 

How to honor your mother once your married

Once we say “I do,” our wives should take a higher priority than our moms. That can be hard. 

As we start lives and families of our own, our daily schedule becomes more of a balancing act of priorities. Our efforts to honor Mom unconsciously get knocked down on the to-do list, even further than where we had her as a teenager.

God says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24). But He also says, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). 

As a married man, you can’t give your mom all your time. But when she does have your attention, you can fully honor your mother in the way God calls you to. 

It’s not an exclusive list, but here are a few tips I’ve jotted down that help me practically honor God in honoring my mother as an adult son. 

1. Connect with your mom.

Talk to your wife and ask her to brainstorm with you about a healthy balance in creating intentional times to consistently connect with your mother (and possibly your mother-in-law) while still putting your marriage and children first. 

  • Mark your calendar and schedule time to call mom and actively engage. Find a way to get comfortable with giving and receiving updates about how life is going. You may not be able to call her everyday, but intentionally make time for mom, especially if you have a busy lifestyle.
  • Reflect on good memories together and ask her conversational questions. (Ex: What was it like moving all of us to a different state in the ’80s?) Allow your heart and mind to genuinely be curious and engaging. 
  • When you do talk, try your best to be actively involved in the conversation. Give more than yes or no answers. Listen and think of reasonable areas of need in her life that you can lean into.
  • Express your love for her. “Mom, I really do love you. I never say it enough.”

If you just got married, you can also honor your mother by respectfully talking about that new dynamic with her instead of having a constant battle over expectations. Sons, as well as mothers, can feel the pressure of changing tides if we don’t talk about new dynamics and just assume we are all on the same page.

If this is an issue in your relationship, pray about it first and gauge when to talk with your mom.

My colleague, Carlos Santiago, gave me a great example:

“Mom, I love you. Thank you for raising me to follow God. I want to be the godly man that you raised me to be. I’m a husband now, which means my wife’s needs must now come before yours. I will always love you and always do anything I can for you, but there will be times when I must say no. There will be times that I might make decisions that hurt or disappoint you for my wife’s benefit. This is not a rejection of you. It is me trying to be the godly husband and father you raised me to be.”

2. Celebrate your mom. 

When it’s her birthday, Mother’s Day, a milestone of any sort, or even when an accomplishment comes up, do your part to recognize her as a son. 

Maybe schedule sending flowers, a handwritten letter, make a post on social media, or make her an album of memories. When the opportunity shows up to celebrate her, do something nice she would like. 

I’ve even taken a step to ask my mom, “How do you typically like to be celebrated? I want to make sure the moments I have to honor you, I do it well.”

I took note of her response:

  • “I love receiving pictures of my grandbabies. They make my day brighter.”
  • “When I see you living for God, it makes my heart happy.”
  • “I really enjoy spending time with you all.”

It might not always work out easily, but embrace opportunities where you and your wife can celebrate your mom together.

Grab our month-long plans for a more connected relationship.

3. Be understanding with your mom

As we grow from our mothers’ tumbling toddlers to grown men, we begin making adult decisions, and we’re not always in harmony with Mom. 

I remember deciding on milestones like my first apartment or sharing details of my dating life and not aligning with my mom on every detail. I reflect now and see my immaturity, but I also see how my mom could’ve been struggling with change and my independence. 

When your relationship with your mom gets a little out of tune as dynamics change, be careful not to dishonor her in heated moments of expressing your adulthood (Proverbs 30:17). 

Instead, ask God to give you wisdom and understanding when you disagree. If you ever feel she may be out of line, find peace that God sees the full picture. Your job is to honor her. 

It’s also a reality that some of us don’t have a good relationship with mom. Every guy doesn’t have the same situation, but we can find peace with God in honoring our mom through a journey of forgiveness and kindness (Ephesians 4:32).

Sometimes, our wives don’t have a good relationship with our moms. In-law relationships can be hard. If you find yourself in this situation, know that it may be too big of a challenge for you. But nothing is too big for God. Continuously give your concerns to God. Read “5 ideas for loving in-laws” and ask Him to gracefully show you the part you should play for His desired relationship between your wife and mother. 

4. Pray for your mom.

Ask God for His leadership to honor your mother well. It’s not an effort we can do on our own and we need His help, for sure! You can also use your knowledge about your mom’s life and her concerns, alongside God’s Word, as topics of prayer on her behalf. 

When I made it a goal to pray for my mom, it wasn’t easy coming up with topics to think about. Here are some general ideas you can consider when praying for your mom:

  • Ask “How can I pray for you, Mom?” Take those requests to Jesus.
  • Pray for her relationship with God.
  • Pray for her mental, physical, and spiritual health.
  • Pray for the community that surrounds her.
  • Pray for God’s purpose to be lived out in her life.
  • Pray for her protection.
  • Pray for her confidence in Jesus.

How you honor your mother matters to God

God didn’t give an age or seasonal limit on how long a son should honor his mother, but our connection with Mom does change over the years. As we grow older and change, so does she, but her value in our lives will never fade. 

Family relationships matter to God. How you honor your mother matters to God. 

As we become leaders in our homes and corners of the world, God desires us to love our mothers well. It may not be popular, but honoring your mother in a godly way will always be a pivotal part of your life and journey as a married man. 

Copyright © 2023 FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

Ashford Sonii is a writer for FamilyLife. He enjoys ministry, learning, and communicating practical life applications of God’s Word within marriage, family, and how to walk with Jesus. Ashford and his wife, Olivia, currently live in North Carolina with their twin girls, Ivey and Oakley.