African American Mother-Son Dynamics and their Effect on the African American Marital Relationship

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The University of Maryland McNair Scholars Undergraduate Research Journal, 2, (2010): 125-138.



This conceptual paper investigates the difficulties African American married couples are experiencing in an attempt to maintain stable relationships. The following questions are analyzed and answered: (a) how are African American mother-son relationships characterized in the literature? and (b) how does the bond between African American mothers and their sons affect their sons’ future relationship with their wives and marital satisfaction? The significance of this paper is to gain a broader perspective of the state of marriage in the African American culture. To identify and understand how African American mother-son relationships influence spousal unions and use the findings as an instrument to enhance African American marriages, and to gain a larger comprehension of African American male-female tension and provide a different perspective and knowledge in assessing the origins of the conflict. The Freudian psychoanalytical Oedipus complex will be used to discuss how African American men subconsciously choose a mate that resembles their mother. Olson and Olson’s five typologies of marriage will also be used as a guide in discussing marital satisfaction among African American married men. The conclusions are that there are certain things only a mother can teach a son, many African American marriages are conflicted, an African American man will subconsciously pick a mate much like his mother, and the martial union will most likely resemble the mother-son relationship and many African American-mother son relationships are most likely conflicted.