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Dad Asks If He Was Wrong To Leave His Wife's Side During A Miscarriage To Support His Pregnant Mom — 'I Feel Bad But I Was No Use Since The Baby Was Gone'

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woman alone during miscarriage

Marital struggles resulting from a man's relationship with his mom are a tale as old as time. But for one man on Reddit, this situation has gone to a whole new level that has left people online shocked.

And according to therapists, it also speaks to an all too common parent-child dynamic that not only destroys marriages, but is also downright abusive.

A man left his wife during a miscarriage to go support his mom.

Tragically, the man and his wife suffered a miscarriage during their third pregnancy, and as the man's mother was also in the midst of a difficult pregnancy with her sixth child at the same time, he was at his parents' house helping his mom when the miscarriage happened.

The man's family was in the midst of chaos during his own personal tragedy. His mom suffers from a debilitating autoimmune illness, which greatly complicated her pregnancy, and at the same time, his father appeared to be cheating on his mother with his secretary.

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"My wife understands me having to go over to my parents' house and has been my mom's advocate," he wrote in his since deleted post. But her view of her husband's relationship with his mom all changed once she got pregnant and suddenly her husband was nowhere to be found.

The miscarriage incident was the culmination of months of his wife confronting him about spending too much time with his mom.

"During her pregnancy she has been very upset and made comments about me always being [at my parents' house]," he wrote, "and that we needed to draw lines between family and extended family, which upset me."

Those pleadings seem to have definitely fallen on deaf ears, because when his mom called him at the hospital to tell him that his father was raging about the news of the miscarriage, he immediately left his wife's side to go to his parents' house again.

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"She was crying and I felt like at least I could help her around the house, with my siblings and with my kids at the house, and go grieve with her," he wrote.

Unsurprisingly, his wife did not see it that way, who he wrote was "very upset," especially since someone she did not want to see in such a traumatizing moment was able to visit her in the hospital because her husband wasn't there to stop them. Still, he insisted he did the right thing.

Commenters were mortified by his decision. "I am older than your mother," one woman wrote, "and if any of my sons left his wife's side during a miscarriage for anything less than me being on my deathbed, I would disown him."

Others were similarly blunt. "A miscarriage or [stillbirth] are two of the most traumatic and emotionally devastating experiences a woman could have but you thought it was acceptable to abandon your wife when she needed you the most?" another user wrote. "Your number one priorities should be your wife and your children, not your mother who you clearly have an unhealthy codependent relationship with."

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This situation is a quintessential example of an abusive family dynamic psychologists call 'parental enmeshment.'

Parental enmeshment is also sometimes known by a far more eyebrow-raising and to-the-point alternate name — emotional incest.

It's pretty much exactly like it sounds — a near-total lack of boundaries between parent and child and, similar to other toxic dynamics like parentification, a child who becomes the primary emotional support system to the parent instead of the other way around.

We tend to think of men like this as "mama's boys," but parental enmeshment goes far deeper than that. Writing in Psychology Today, therapist Dr. Robert Weiss described parental enmeshment as a form of emotional abuse in which "the child is used for narcissistic emotional fulfillment by the parent" and "the needs of the child are subsumed by the needs of the parent."

And the scenario typically plays out just like this man's marriage has — one partner is distant and unavailable because their parent has turned them into a surrogate spouse. Dr. Weiss also writes that, much like this man, most victims of parental enmeshment are wholly oblivious to the dynamic.

A boundary-less relationship with a mother like this is also a huge red flag in a partner. Of course, it's too late for this man's wife to make another choice at this stage, and for them there's really only one option: This man needs to find a therapist who can teach him how to set boundaries and put his wife first.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.