By Greg Barker
It is generally regarded by most people that women mature faster than men do. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the one that needs to be addressed here is what actually matures a person.
Maturity is the recognition of responsibility and then the acceptance of that responsibility as a necessity in one’s own life. A woman typically comes to this realization faster than a man does. Often a man sees responsibility as an enemy, something that just gets in his way of living and having fun. This attitude is devastating to those who either depend upon him or who wish him to take an active role in a relationship.
In my counseling, I’ve notice that many men don’t mature upon marriage. They still have that single guy’s attitude and that single guy’s penchant for fun and games. Marriage often doesn’t settle him down. But children might. This is not a recommendation, merely an observation. I’ve notice that when a man holds an infant that cannot care for itself the realization of that responsibility sinks in for many men.
But what can a wife do about this immaturity?
ISOLATE THE IMMATURE AREAS
A wife needs to isolate what areas her husband is immature in. More than likely, it is not in every area. List all of his responsibilities, those things that he is directly responsible for, and rate them. His wife, his children, his job, perhaps the finances, maybe the maintenance of the house, and whatever else you can think of are things that ought to go on this list.
This has the added benefit of helping you to isolate your own frustration. He may be good with the children and be lousy with money. He may be great with money but not very good at providing you with needed security. He might be fantastic with his work ethic, but sloppy with his things at home. Find out what areas are causing you the frustration.
Praise him for the areas he does well in. It is difficult for a man to deal with a nagging and unhappy wife. Most men deal with emotions in such a different way than their wife does that he doesn’t know how to handle hers. But he loves praise. Praise will encourage him and may even help him towards being responsible in those other weak areas.
GET YOUR HUSBAND TO SEEK ADVICE FROM A MALE COUNSELOR
This may sound a bit chauvinist, but hear me out. I counsel a lot of men and I’ve noticed a curious contradiction. Most men won’t seek help on their own. It is the result of that ego and pride that men have in abundance. But if they actually do come to me, I’m able to show them, from a man’s perspective, why they need to take responsibility in certain areas of their life.
Often, if a man can see the problem from a man’s point of view, it may finally dawn on him that he can no longer run or hide from it. In addition, many men just flat out don’t know what to do because no one ever taught them. Their solution up until this point is to ignore the problem.
But using a man to point out the problems and solutions from a man’s perspective will go a long way to helping your husband grow up and mature. He many resist this, but if you can find the right pastor, counselor, or mature advisor to help, it’ll go a long way.
COMMUNICATE YOUR FEARS BETTER
Ladies, watching your husband’s immaturity produces fear and frustration. Your expression of those fears and frustration more often than not will drive your husband away from accepting responsibility.
To be frank, you need to play off his ego and pride. Most men have fantasies of being that knight in shining armor that wishes to rescue the damsel in distress. This isn’t true for all men, but it is typical of male psychology. Instead of flailing at him with your words, show your distress in a way that makes him want to come to your rescue.
Good communication is the key to any relationship. I’m writing a book on it because the importance of this concept is generally misunderstood. Yelling, screaming, nagging, and name calling doesn’t really do much to get an immature husband to accept responsibility. Learn to communicate your fears better.
I’m not suggesting that you appear helpless, but I am suggesting that you be a bit smarter in how you express your concerns to your husband.
DON’T TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS IRRESPONSIBILITY
If you always do his job, then you aren’t giving him a reason to do it himself. Why should he do it if you will? Unfortunately, many men think this way without consciously being aware of it. In some cases, you may feel that you have no choice, particularly when it comes to money or the children. But in general if you pick up after him, become his alarm clock, become his character, fulfill his promises to his friends, and so forth, he will come to expect that from you.
Understand that most people, male or female, have grown up being pandered to. Their parents supplied every need and most wants. Society panders to children and their innocence. And then cuts it all off when they turn 18. There is very little effort or skill at making smooth transitions into adulthood. For eighteen years it was all about him. Now it is no longer true, but he hasn’t really come to grips or true understanding of that. He doesn’t realize that responsibility is accepting the needs of others.
You may need to help your husband learn that. You may need to ignore his irresponsibility and let him suffer the consequences of his own actions. You may have to do it in complete silence. Don’t scold, don’t yell, don’t lecture, don’t be a mother, that’ll only push him away. But he may need to learn that there are things that he now has to do on his own.
A mother came to me once about her teenage boy who refused to do anything about his messy and somewhat disastrous room. She told me that when she couldn’t stand it any more, she would just go in and clean it herself. She wanted to know how to get him to do it on his own. I inquired about, and found out that he would never let his friends into his room. I suggested bringing over to the house girls his age and showing them his room. That didn’t happen but twice before he started keeping his room clean on his own from then on out.
When I was a teenage boy, my mother took me aside and said, “Son, from now on you have to wash, dry, and fold and iron your own clothes. You need to learn how, and I’m not doing it any more.” She never got onto my case about the laundry, she never nagged me, and she never scolded me about it. But it didn’t matter. I wasn’t about to go to school in smelly clothes. No sir. My mother taught me to take responsibility for my own appearance.
Be very, very wise in how you do this. You don’t want to push him to the point where he just gives up. Make sure you are helping, not making the situation worse.
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