More often than not, I have seen many women frown upon their husbands/boyfriends being very insensitive, in terms of remembering birthdays, getting cues, pampering their wives or non-cooperation in shopping etc. Also, I have heard many women complain of how their male partners are obsessed with listening to their moms and it terribly interferes in their love life.
I have, thus, been compelled to probe deeper into such complaints from women and find out why there is a common discomfort among women about their spouses being insensitive as husbands and also being mama's boys. Many women think that it is the mom who 'pollutes' the son's mind and instigates him to listen less to the wife and more to the mom. This assumption needs deeper analysis.
I haven't conducted and in-depth field study to come at any conclusions and hence the explanations I am putting forth may appear conjectural and prone to disapproval. Nonetheless, I can boast of having a sizeable and equally distributed sample set of male and female friends who willingly share their "such" experiences with me. Also, I share a substantial amount of comfort with mothers (most of my close friends would agree !!) and so have also been exposed to how mothers feel about their sons and and their daughter-in-laws. Thus, based on my limited yet qualitatively deep understanding, I present here my take on the problem of mama's boys and insensitive husbands.
First of all, I must refute the assumption held by many women that men, in general, are not very sensitive to emotions. On my interactions with various men (many of whom would qualify for being tough and macho) and my own experiences, I can say that men are as sensitive or insensitive as women. Just like all women are not equally beautiful, not all men are equally rough (read 'tough').
Most men do cry and most men cry only for women or because of women. In almost 7 out of 10 incidents when men have cried, the reason has been some or the other woman. In cases where a man hurts another man, the response is more violent and does not culminate into crying. Although the frequency of crying is definitely far lesser in men than women, but the intensity of pain felt by men, when they cry, is far deeper. The average time to get back to normalcy after a crying 'session' is far too longer for men than women. While women can console themselves quickly and within hours of crying may resort back to normal activities, men find it very difficult to get over a crying issue and it takes them too long to come out of the depressing feeling. If we consider 'crying' as being an indicator of being sensitive, men are as sensitive as women. (QED !!!)
Coming to the particular cases of sensitive sons and sensitive husbands/lovers. Men can be mapped on a scale of sensitivity (say from 0 to 10), from being totally insensitive (Level 0 - like the villainous rapists of Hindi movies) to being overly sensitive ( Level 10 - like the heroes of Karan Johar movies). Most men would fall in between, more in the manner of a Gaussian distribution. Men also have a uniform level of sensitivity towards all women. This is a trait very different from women. Let me explain how.
A woman who is highly sensitive to say, flowers and gets 'touched' by the gesture of a man gifting him flowers, would react differently to different men giving her flowers. She would judge the gesture of a man by a myriad other factors rather than just one 'sensitive' gesture. While a wife may like his husband whistling to her from the other room, she would get fiercely angry if some passerby whistles at her.
Men are far more uni-dimensional. If a man does not like flowers or cards (most men don't), it wouldn't matter which woman sends him flowers. Similarly, if a man is a voracious eater (most men are), he would fall for any woman who feeds him well. (So sons of great cook mom expect a great cook wife and discriminate wife from mom based on cooking skills!!) Thus, though men can be placed on different levels of sensitivity towards women, such sensitivity would be similar for all women on that criteria.
Having established the uni-dimensional approach of men in being sensitive to different aspects (including emotional aspects), I come down to explaining the problem of mama's boys. Most men who are ridiculed (or even mentioned) as mama's boys are the ones who are placed high on the scale of sensitivity. Such men appreciate good food, love, care, look for comfort when in pain and reciprocate love shown to them. As children, these men, thus, become very close to their mothers. Following their uni-dimensional instinct, they show the same behavior towards their spouses and expect the same warmth from their wives. By the very nature of the relationships, wives cannot afford to be so unconditional and forgiving as mothers are and expect a lot from their husbands. The sensitive men thus find it easier with their moms and wife may feel that the man is being insensitive to her because of being a mama's boy.
The other set of men who are placed low on sensitivity scale, are neither very close to their mothers nor close to their spouses. In fact, they would also be probably not very close with their sisters. This set of men are highly chauvinist, enforce a lot of rules of behavior on the women of their families. They are thus, in design, insensitive to their wives. But then, they are not mama's boy either.
Thus, mama's boys are the ones who are more passionate lovers, who care a lot for their wives and also expect a lot of emotional comfort from them. It is the manly and 'not-a-mama's boy' who is to be more insensitive and cold to the wives emotional needs. Thus, women who think their husbands are mama's boys should feel blessed. They have the material available for passionate lovers and sensitive husbands. All they need to do is shower more love on their men than the mothers do. You can win such men only by giving more love and not for asking more.
Therefore, do not blame the mother-in-laws for being snatching your husband away, and mom-in-laws should also not accuse their daughter-in-laws for stealing away their sons. It is only that the men in such cases are the sensitive ones and hence they would attempt to be loving to both the mom and the wife. So live with it ladies, that's how it is.