The Husband-Son Hybrid

There is a class of men that exist in society. They may look like normal men, they may act like normal men; in certain aspects they may actually be pretty normal. However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that these men live under very peculiar circumstances at home with their families.

These men are often the eldest son, or child, in the family. From my own personal experience, these men and their families overwhelmingly come from South-Asian (Pakistani, Indian) backgrounds. They could be first or second generation immigrants who were raised in the West, but with the utilization of child-rearing techniques from their respective countries of origins.

The fathers of these men do not live at home with the families full-time. The fathers work and live abroad, in UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle-Eastern countries. Chances are, en route to North America from their homeland, these families lived in the Middle-East for a few years before making the journey across the Atlantic. Job prospects being more promising back in the Middle-East, the fathers set-up their families in suburban, middle-class homes near metropolitan cities in the West, and headed back to Dubai for more lucrative opportunities. They visit once or twice a year, or the families fly out to see them every few years. But for the most part, these families operate as two separate units: the father living and working abroad, who sends money to the family unit back home, where the mother is in charge of running the household and taking care of the family.

The Husband-Son Hybrid can be found in such a family, who has been tasked to, not only be the son of the family, but also act as a stand-in male companion for the mother. Here’s the precise definition from Marryam-Waheed Dictionary:
Husband-Son Hybrid: (noun) An adult male from an immigrant background, living at home with his mother and/or siblings, who fulfills the emotional and intellectual needs of his mother at the expense of his own personal romantic and/or emotional development.

The husband-son hybrid deserves to be recognized. Here is a man, a young man, who has been almost stripped of his right and his ability to pursue a meaningful relationship with a woman who is not his mother. He endures in silence as he is constantly guilt-tripped into feeling sorry for his mother, and steps up to be the companion the mother wishes she could have in her actual husband. But alas, it is not meant to be, and so the husband-son is born.

Let’s pause here for a moment and reflect on some of the kinds of cultures and lifestyles that would require the existence of such a species. Above all, these cultures place little to no importance on desires such a companionship and love. No! Life is not about bonding with the person you will live the rest of your existence with. Life is about making enough money and having enough funds to give the illusion that you already have that bond with your partner. Life is about the image of success, and if that success has to come at the expense of alienating one’s spouse and children, so be it.

So while the father is away for 355 days of the year tirelessly working away to provide for the family back home (sorry, back in Canada), what is the mother to do? Well, a good option could be to get a job of her own, but why would she do that? I mean, it’s not like the family is poor. Ew. What’s the point of the father working, as a man should, if the mother is just going to go out and support herself! Pretty counterintuitive eh. So the mom does nothing. She’s the landlord and the caretaker; a woman who is expected to live her life in isolation from her partner, and accept not having sex for most of the year.

With her sexual needs properly repressed behind a veil of silence, what is to be done of her emotions? By all accounts, she is still a human. She may even feel something every now and then, such as joy and happiness. Who should she share that with? What about co-dependence? Because we all know, an independent woman is a dangerous woman!

Is it really so strange that, under these ‘unique’ circumstances, there would rise the husband-son hybrid? Not really. Just because these families don’t confront and accept their human needs to love and bond, it doesn’t mean that the needs aren’t still there. Raising a son in the absence of a husband, these women end up bonding with the only man they have unlimited access to. It’s no surprise that these men are then raised with a crushing sense of guilt and loyalty towards their mothers. The highs and lows of life, the joy and grief, are all shared with this son. So what happens when the son says “I love you mom, but I have to leave you and find my own soulmate”?




And the trump card of them all, guilt.

Of course none of this will ever be formally said or accepted. The son will learn that his place is by his mother’s side. To be her aid in life, to be there for her, and never mention leaving from fear he’ll have to hear about all the sacrifices the mother has made for him: carrying him in her womb for 9 excruciating months; feeding him when he could barely hold his head up; changing his dirty diapers, which, by-the-way, had poop in them. How could he imagine leaving her, she has done so much for him!

So what becomes of these husband-son hybrids? How can you identify them? Well, there are many forms an adult husband-son hybrid can take. One is the single and socially awkward 30-something year-old who seems to just stick to himself. He lives at home, of course, has a job, and spends his evenings and weekends just, being. He has friends, and what some may consider a social life. But his primary purpose is to continue being the husband-son hybrid.

Another form is the emotionally stunted young man who blindly marries the woman his mother picks out for him. And then lives at home with both his wives. I mean his wife and his mother, excuse me. He has it pretty good. After all, a happy wife is a happy life, right?

Lastly, there’s the normal guy. The guy who, through some miracle, came out of this special arrangement unscathed. He has his emotional integrity intact. He can give and receive love. He has friends, a good job, and maybe even a place of his own. He has a loving partner, and he’s free from the guilt that kept him chained at home for the better part of his youth.

He loves his partner. As they fall asleep in each other’s arms one night, he suddenly awakens, overcome with emotion. He gets up, and as he sits in the darkness staring into the abyss, a little voice in his head says to him “You left me…”

To be continued…


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  • Dinesh Om

    This doesn’t happen in Hindu families

  • Melia

    I see a similar situation happen a lot in Tunisia. Not exactly the husband-hybrid relationship but the case where the husbands goes work by themselves in France and leave their wives and kids back home. The woman does everything by herself and every step is watched and then as soon as the son grows up he starts acting like the man of the family and sometimes they are controlling towards their sisters and little bothers. The good thing is, the few times this discussion came up and I voice my opinion that it’s a very “wrong” situation and that the father is not a bank and in case of the husband-son hybrid, the son has to live his normal life, everybody agrees with me and the women always take the discussion to how even when the father lives in Tunisia with his family, his role as a father is not fulfilled because he comes home from work and leaves to the coffee shop to spend the rest of the day with his friends, comes back home ot have dinner then goes to bed. To me it’s a sign that things are changing and that women are demanding more from their husband than to just be there. However, when I take the discussion a little further and tell them that the problem has a lot of roots in religion which values men a lot and just his presence is enough, that’s when things turn ugly 🙂

  • Hazem Bayado

    Hope the point of this in episode 2 is not to blame some specific culture/religion. As this is a social/economical problem that happens to white people from the West even. I live in Dubai and not all male expatriates here are from India/Pakistan, there are many Europeans who have left their families back home for one reason or another.

  • Ahmed Bahgat

    I don’t think this problem is specific to Pakistan or south asian counties. I’ve seen this model very commonly in Egypt (an arab and muslim state). I dare say i was brought up in that same fashion. But I eventually broke off that mold by moving to the US. However, its VERY difficult overcoming all those feelings of guilt and shame.

  • Ehtisham

    You all left Islam because you know nothing about Islam you people just want to enjoy this life and there no place for you in hereafter except hell.May Allah give u haddayat…I read your views on hijab.Islam give woman respect…Don’t be a sex object in the sight of male By uncovering yourself.Please do some research on Islam you left islam because you like the sinful ways of kaffir thats why you become a kaffir.Sins gives temporary pleasure think about afterlife.

  • Simi Rahman

    It’s like you reached into my head and wrote my experiences of married life. Wow. I have a theory that a woman’s power in patriarchal societies come from her male child, particularly the eldest. He will be the first to earn, and will be expected to support his younger siblings. At his father loses earning potential, the son gains in his stature. All decisions are now made with him, and his father becomes a secondary figure, paid lip service and maybe hovering around the edges. Marrying off your top earner is a dangerous enterprise for any such mother, not only will you risk losing your top earner’s attention and affection, not to mention part of his revenue stream, you will also lose the power you have enjoyed all these years as his Queen-Consort. Not until these society’s have a viable social security system will this shit go away.