MO AND PHINDI | Successful marriage requires maturity of both partners

Share relatively equal levels of growth with your spouse

Mo and Phindi Relationship Thursdays
An immature partner is one who, among others, refuses to compromise, negotiate, forgive, reconcile, one who sulks, is filled with ingratitude, or gives silent treatment.
An immature partner is one who, among others, refuses to compromise, negotiate, forgive, reconcile, one who sulks, is filled with ingratitude, or gives silent treatment.
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In our theory for a healthy marriage, which we discuss in our book, Stuff We Wish We Knew Before Getting Married in-depth, we outline three fundamental elements of compatibility your marriage should have. One of them is to share relatively equal levels of maturity with your partner.

This is a choice you make from an individual before you get married. But many married couples are already stuck with immature partners, and they married them in spite of their immaturity.

Psychological maturity, which comprises both emotional and mental development, is one of the foundational elements of a healthy marriage. A successful marriage requires the maturity of both partners at relatively similar levels, otherwise it’s an “unequal yoke”.

Maturity does not automatically come with age. It develops over time as we learn how to navigate life with wisdom.

An immature partner is one that refuses to compromise, negotiate, forgive, reconcile, constantly displays selfish behaviour, is full of pride, one who sulks, filled with ingratitude, gives silent treatment, no sense of responsibility or obligation, constantly displays poor judgement, is disrespectful of the other, has poor tact in resolving conflict or does so by throwing tantrums privately or publicly and is inconsiderate of the other.

They also avoid tough conversations, have uncontrollable levels of unhealthy jealousy, become defensive, have a victim mentality, have commitment issues, make everything to be about them, choose the easy way out, likely to rely on their relatives for emotional support as they can’t stand on their feet, don’t own their mistakes, and they have to win every argument – while you feel more alone than ever.

However, not all hope is lost. Immaturity doesn’t necessarily mean things aren’t destined to work out in your marriage. If your spouse is willing to make a change, you can partner to work things out.

Assess if you’re not the one in need of loosening up a bit

You might find that you tend to over-focus on serious issues and make insufficient time for fun and play in your marriage. A partner who is more of a child at heart can actually add a bit of balance and joy to a relationship that’s in danger of being too serious. Pause to honestly assess if there are any upsides to the maturational discrepancies in your marriage. In the most intriguing way, maturational differences – if they are healthy and not toxic – can actually be a positive force that makes a marriage even more worth the long-term investment.

Assess the toxicity of the immaturity

It’s often easy to find the downsides when it comes to maturational differences. Glaring differences in maturity manifest in tiring dynamics such as those we’ve already mentioned above. When you carefully and nonjudgmentally slow down to notice and name the downsides, you’ll have greater clarity about the emotional, mental, and behavioural issues you’re facing. And you can develop a much clearer course of action thereon.

Create healthy boundaries

Stop picking up the slack for your spouse and covering them when they come up with excuses for immature choices. Help them be accountable by having them take responsibility for their actions. It’s important they understand that their behaviour has consequences and that you won’t keep participating in their unhealthy dynamic.

Be open with your spouse

Communicate openly, yet respectfully on issues that you’re uncomfortable about their behaviour on any given time it presents. Importantly, consistently follow through on what you say. This may mean taking the high road during temper tantrums, and letting them know you’ll be willing to talk once they’re ready to discuss things maturely.

Think about ways you can grow together

If you decide that your relationship is worth keeping despite – or maybe even because of – the maturational disparities, try to find ways you can create greater balance in your marriage. If an uptick in maturity is needed, you have a variety of choices such as individual or couple’s therapy, as well as support groups. You can also invest in self-help books to help learn and grow together.

Avoid the trap of making one person play the therapist or “perfect” partner by making a humble, authentic commitment to grow together.

Also often discuss what being married to one another means to you, and emphasise on what gives your marriage meaning.

If your spouse truly desires to mature, it’s likely that positive change will ultimately occur. If not, it’s wise to accept that the maturational disparities will continue until a shift is desired.

However, if you find yourself stuck on what to do next, reach out for support from a professional counsellor, mentor or trusted friend.

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