Sometimes after reading an e-mail from a man or woman struggling in their marriage, I want to hit reply, type “Just grow up!” and send. Of course, I resist; it would be mean and not helpful. Still, the fact remains that a good deal of what causes marriage problems is ultimately a matter of one or both spouses not acting particularly mature.
I’m not alone on this – Corey Allan of Simple Marriage talks about growing up regularly, and I have recently started to follow and share a great blog called A Grown Up Marriage. Other marriage blogs I read and share with you have done articles on this topic. My growing awareness of the need for spouses to grow up is why I added a “Be a grownup” category to the blog a month ago.
Today I’m starting a series on issues that fit in this category. You may see yourself, or your spouse, or both in my posts over the next week. If you see yourself do something about it. If you see both of you, choose to be the more mature person and start making changes first. If you only see your spouse, start by making sure you are not deceiving yourself, then look for ways to gently nudge her on one issue at a time.
It helps to understand that immature actions are just what they sound like – places we have not yet grown up. Very few of us are free of this, and for most of us it’s a long, ongoing process. There are two areas that are particularity difficult: those we “got away with” at home, and those which get us what we want.
- If her parents let her get away with something immature as long as she lived with them, she may not see it as immature. It’s okay, as evidenced by her parents allowing it. That puts you at odds with the messages from her folks, and that’s a difficult place to be. Helping her understand how others view her actions can give her a reason to change.
- If throwing a fit gets your bride her way, then why stop? It works! As long as immature behaviour gets a person what they want, they are motivated to continue the behaviour. If the behaviour stops working, she is likely to get upset and try escalating the behaviour. If you can remain calm and not give in, she will be forced to make a change. However, beware: if you try and then give in, you make it far more difficult the next time you try to stand up to any wrong behaviour. Don’t challenge immaturity if you are not prepared to deal with the fall-out for as long as it takes.