apron strings, tied to (someone's)

tied to apron strings

Wholly dependent on or controlled by a woman, especially one's mother or wife. For example, At 25, he was still too tied to her apron strings to get an apartment of his own. This expression, dating from the early 1800s, probably alluded to apron-string tenure, a 17th-century law that allowed a husband to control his wife's and her family's property during her lifetime.
See also: apron, string, tie

apron strings, tied to (someone's)

Under someone’s influence. Like being under someone’s thumb, the term denotes being completely ruled by another, in this case usually a male being ruled by a woman (the traditional wearer of aprons). It probably was already a cliché by the time Thomas Babington Macaulay wrote (1849) of William of Orange, “He could not submit to be tied to the apron strings of even the best of wives.” Indeed, two hundred years earlier England had a law called apron-string tenure, whereby a husband could hold title to property passed on by his wife’s family only while his wife was alive.
See also: apron, tie