How to Spot an Immature Spouse

 

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.

2 Samuel 24 – Righting Your Wrongs

Have you ever done something you knew was not right? Maybe others even told you it wasn’t wise, but you did it anyway. Then afterwards, things began to unravel. Your conscience began to trouble you. Your situation got worse. And you began to realize you needed to right your wrong.

Oddly enough, God ends the book of 2 Samuel with just such a situation. In 2 Samuel chapter 24, Israel has sinned and David falls to temptation, taking an unnecessary and uncalled for census. (1 Chronicles 21:1) Perhaps David’s act of taking a census was an act of pride and arrogance, but afterwards David knows he has done wrong. God, being just, brings judgement on the sin of David and Israel…graciously allowing David some say in the judgement.

Then, in mercy, God relents. He tells David to offer a sacrifice at the very place where David experienced mercy.  Though the owner of the land, the oxen, and the wood needed for the sacrifice offers it all to David for free, David insists on buying them instead…knowing that by its very nature and definition, a sacrifice must cost us something.

Why would God put such an account at the end of 2 Samuel? Why would He conclude the story of David in such a way? Perhaps its a reminder to us that no matter how much God blesses us, we should never get “too big for our britches.” Perhaps its a reminder to listen to wise counsel, no matter how successful we’ve become. (Proverbs 13:10) (Proverbs 21:11) (Proverbs 11:14) And perhaps it’s a reminder that God will not ignore sin…no matter who you are. (Numbers 32:23)

We must not forget that how our story ends will depend on whether we heed these same reminders and remain humble before the Lord.

It’s Marriage Not Magic!

I love a good magic show. As a kid, I would practice for hours learning sleight of hand magic. And now that I’m an adult and know it’s just a series of tricks and illusions, there’s still something about the wonder and the mystery of a magic show that captivates me.

Marriage and Magic

Whether you like magic or not, there is a part of all of us that wants our marriage to be magical. And we tend to treat our marriage as if it were a magic show, in the following ways:

Making something disappear.

Magicians are known for making things disappear. From small coins to jet planes, magicians seem to be able to make things disappear right in front of our eyes.

Likewise, spouses tend to want problems in the marriage to disappear. We ignore issues, down-play conflicts, or distract from problems in hopes they will magically disappear. But marriage is not a magic show and problems don’t magically disappear. They must be faced, addressed, and worked through.

Making something appear.

This is the flip side of making something disappear. Here, the magician magically produces something…seemingly out of thin air.

Many couples hope a great marriage will just appear, without a lot of effort. It’s as if they hope for great communication, easy conflict resolution, good sex, and large bank accounts to be magically produced out of thin air. But those things don’t magically appear. They come from an abundance of long, hard work.

Sawing a person in half.

This is a classic piece of magic. An assistant climbs into a box, and the magician uses a saw or sharp blades to separate the assistant into pieces; only to reassemble the assistant moments later, without a scratch!

In marriage, spouses will cut one another, with words or actions, and expect them to bounce back as if no harm was done. But you cannot hurt your spouse without leaving some sort of scar that they will carry for a long time. And sometimes a spouse can be cut so badly they can’t be put back together. So be very careful with your words and actions.

Reading a person’s mind.

It’s amazing when a magician can tell a person what card they drew or what number they’re thinking of. A magician can call upon someone they claim to have never met, and yet tell them things about their life in amazing detail. It’s like the magician can read minds.

I want to remind you that you cannot read your spouse’s mind. So don’t make assumptions about what they’re thinking, what they’re going to say, or what they desire. To do so is disrespectful and a sure way to get yourself in trouble.  Yes, you should get to know your spouse so well, you have a pretty good guess of what they’re thinking. But you should never assume you can read their mind. Ask questions and clarify responses. You’ll be better off for it.

Escaping the impossible.

One of my favorite magicians was Harry Houdini. He became famous as an escape artist, who bragged that he could escape from any shackle, restraint, or container. And whether through trickery or physical prowess, it seemed he could escape from anything.

Too often, we tend to believe we should be able to escape problems and hardships in marriage. We will try to ignore them, avoid them, and run from them. And when those escape tactics don’t work, we will blame things on our spouse or assume we’ve married the wrong person. But unlike a magician, you cannot escape from problems and hardships in marriage. You must go through them and learn from them.

A Final Thought…

Magicians make what they do look amazing and magical. But what you don’t see is all the years of hard work and practice that went into making it look like magic.

Marriage is not a magic show. If you put in the years of hard work and practice, your marriage will look like magic to others, but you’ll know how the trick is done. You’ll know it’s not magic, but rather years of trial and error, loving and learning, serving and sacrifice.

But if you stick with it long enough, you will eventually come to the end of your life and think…TADA!

An Easy Way to Spice Up Your Marriage

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the phrase “spice up your marriage,” the first thing that comes to my mind is coming home from work and finding my wife in the kitchen wearing nothing but an apron and a smile. (Sorry…too much information.)

Well, let me say before we go any further…this post is not about sex. So, wives, you can relax; and husbands, you can be disappointed.

But I believe that if you take this post to heart and begin to practice some of the things we’re going to talk about, it can be an easy way to spice up your marriage.

COMMON COURTESY

Believe it or not, one of the easiest ways to spice up your marriage is by practicing common courtesy. You’ve done this in the past when you were dating, and hopefully, you’re still doing it.

What Is Common courtesy?

Common courtesy is showing simple acts of kindness, politeness, and deference toward your spouse. It’s things like:

  • Saying thank you.
  • Holding the door.
  • Asking if you can help.
  • Complimenting.
  • Letting them go first.
  • Asking them what they would like to do.
  • Refreshing their drink.
  • Clearing the table.
  • Impromptu texts or calls to say, “I love you.”
  • Washing their car.
  • Letting them choose the movie or music.
  • Asking for forgiveness.
  • Saying excuse me.
  • Greeting them with a hug and a smile when they come home (even if your clothes are on.)

You can build your own list because common courtesy is as different and varied as marriage itself.

As I said, this is something we all did early in the relationship. It’s part of the reason we fell so in love with one another. But the longer we’re married, the more we let time, responsibilities, stressors, children, and fatigue crowd out common courtesy in our marriage.

Why is Common Courtesy Important?

When we let common courtesy slip, it begins to dull our feelings of love for one another.

You may be thinking…

“Yeah, but we’ve been married for a long time. They know I love them. Is it really that important that I keep doing these things?”

And the answer is…YES! Common courtesy is important because it adds the everyday spices a marriage needs. What are those spices?

  • Honor. Common courtesy is an everyday way of honoring your spouse.
  • Value. Common courtesy is an everyday way of showing you value your spouse.
  • Blessing. Common courtesy is an everyday way of blessing your spouse.
  • Sacrifice. Common courtesy is an everyday way of showing simple, on-going sacrifice.
  • Love. Common courtesy is an everyday way of demonstrating basic, boots-on-the-ground love.
  • Modeling. Common courtesy is an everyday way of modeling all the above, not just for your spouse, but for your children.

These are the daily spices you can add to your marriage by showing common courtesy. Doing this on a daily basis can help awaken a sleeping marriage and strengthen a good marriage because it shows your spouse they’re too important to overlook. And when they know that, they will tend to do the same for you.

A FINAL THOUGHT

Let’s be honest. This is not a big ask. It’s one of the simplest and easiest things you can do to invest in your marriage. It’s cheaper than marriage retreats, counseling, and divorce. It doesn’t cost you anything!

So do something simple, easy, and inexpensive to spice up your marriage. Spice up your marriage by showing common courtesy to your spouse. Who knows…it might lead to even spicier things!

How Parenting Can Improve Partnering

In my last post (How Partnering Can Improve Parenting,) we looked at how improving your marriage could improve your parenting. It stressed the importance of making sure your partnering takes precedence over your parenting. (If you’ve not read that post, I encourage you to go back and read it.)

Now, we need to answer how parenting can improve partnering, and the answer is simply this…

 “Your parenting should instruct your partnering.” 

Yes, your partnering should take priority over your parenting, but your parenting can teach you to be a better partner. Here’s what I mean by this. If you listed the things you do for your kids, your list would look something like this…

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Would You Lay Down Your Life For Your Spouse?

When asked, “What would you be willing to do for your spouse?” most of us are quick to profess how we would lay down our life for our spouse. We would step in front of a gunman’s bullet. We would shield them from the blast of a terrorist’s pipe bomb. We would put ourselves between them and an angry herd of parent eating toddlers. (Ok, maybe not that last one.)

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What I’ve Learned About Marriage From Buying a House – Part 4

Let me just cut to the chase here. One of the things I’ve learned from this house buying experience is that if you want to get from the house you have to the house you want…it’s going to cost you.

Certainly there’s the cost of the new mortgage, but there’s also expenses like fees, repairs to your current house, appliances for the new house, and moving expenses. Then there’s the amount of time and energy you have to spend. All this can easily cause you to loose site of the ultimate goal…to get to a better place.

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