This is my wedding photo. When I look at this photo, I can’t help but notice how young and immature I was.
- I was only 21 years old.
- I was a country boy who had hardly been out of the county in which I lived.
- I had little education.
- I had never seen a wedding, let alone been in one.
- My parent’s marriage was difficult rather than exemplary.
- I didn’t have a close relationship with my father and had no instruction on how to be a man, let alone a husband or father.
- The 3 years my bride and I had dated were mostly long-distance; leaving me with no idea of what it was like to spend extended periods of time together.
- And to top it all off…a few hours after this photo was taken, we moved 600 miles away from home and family to start new jobs.
It’s frightening to think of my level of immaturity at the time. Looking back on it now, it seemed like a train wreck waiting to happen.
But somehow, we made it. We learned to overcome our immaturity and put each other first. It didn’t happen overnight, and immaturity still shows its face occasionally…even after 41 years of marriage.
IS IMMATURITY WRONG?
Here’s the thing. We’re all a little immature when we get married. Before we’re married, life is about “me.” “After we’re married, life is about “us.” And it can be a steep learning curve to shift from “me” to “us.”
The point is this…It’s ok to be a little immature when you get married, but it’s not ok to stay that way!
THE TREND OF IMMATURITY.
I’m concerned about a trend I see in my pastoral counseling practice. I feel like I’m seeing an upswing in marital strife, and more and more of it seems to be about immature spouses. These spouses are not young newlyweds. They are older and have been married for a while! And while immaturity in marriage is not gender-specific, I tend to see it more in husbands than in wives. (Sorry guys!)
THE SIGNS OF IMMATURITY.
So, how can you spot an immature spouse?
Below are some of the signs you can look for to spot an immature spouse. (Note: Use this list to identify immaturity in yourself first, and don’t use it as a club with which to beat up your spouse.)
- They focus more of their non-work time and energy on themselves than on their spouse.
- They usually feel they’re right and need things to go their way.
- They’re quick to blame others, rather than own their responsibility.
- They feel a sense of entitlement, more than a sense of gratitude.
- They have to be forced to be sacrificial, rather than freely offering it.
- They want their spouse to understand them more than they want to understand their spouse.
- They tend to see things as either right or wrong, and can’t see possibilities in-between.
- They expect to receive more apologies from their spouse than they’re willing to give.
- They get mad, pout, or withdraw, rather than talking things out.
- They spend more time talking about respect than they do earning it.
- They feel they have to be dominant to get what they want.
- They become passive-aggressive if they don’t get what they want.
- They make decisions that affect their spouse, without checking with them.
- They give more ultimatums that compromises.
- Their wants and needs tend to come before their spouse’s wants and needs.
SOME THINGS TO REMEMBER ABOUT THIS LIST…
This is a brutal list.
No one wants to be associated with such a list. So when reading through it, it’s easy to quickly apply it to your spouse rather than yourself. It’s also easy to quickly defend why we might fit some of the things on the list. But look over the list again, and try to be as honest as you can about yourself before reacting.
All of us are guilty of these on occasion.
I’ve been guilty of everything on that list at times. (And I’ve got the scars to show for it!) But if you find one or more of these to be true frequently, or more often than not…then you may have an immaturity problem.
It’s not easy to see these things in ourselves.
If you’re brave and really want to know your immaturity level, ask someone who knows and loves you to weigh in. And if you’re really brave, ask your spouse. Don’t be surprised if your spouse is hesitant to respond. But assure them that it’s not a trick and you really want to know. Then listen openly and carefully. Don’t react. It could be a good time of growth for both of you.
A FINAL THOUGHT…
The cure for immaturity is to get your eyes off of yourself. See your spouse for who they are and what they need. Serve your spouse in ways that put them first and lift them up.
I’m not talking about being a subservient doormat. I’m talking about being a mature, loving, adult partner. At times, this may require having some hard conversations which will not always be received well…especially if your spouse has an immature issue.
But growing up and being mature (no matter your age) is the best way to have a real, honest, and lasting marriage that goes the distance.