The joke goes that having a husband is like having another child. If yours is emotionally immature, this may be a daily reality for you.
Does this sound familiar?
- When you disagree, he stomps off and slams doors.
- When things don’t go his way, he wanders off and pouts.
- Bad day at work? He will find about a dozen things wrong with his home life rather than tell you what happened at the office.
Living like this can be frustrating. Truthfully, having two grown-ups in a marriage is far less emotionally draining and a lot easier.
If your husband is lagging emotionally, this guide will help. Here, you’ll learn how to understand him better and take steps to improve your relationship.
1. Don’t Take it Personally
His immaturity is much more about him than you. In fact, he may blame you or brush off responsibility for his problems. That doesn’t mean those issues are your fault.
Maturity is about learning that many things won’t go your way. Obstacles are a normal part of life and dealing with change is part of adulthood.
As kids transform and grow into teenagers, they learn all about coping with emotions and dealing with said change. These skills help them grow into responsible adults.
Your husband didn’t develop those coping skills as well as he should have. He may handle small problems fine, but anything that really ruffles his emotions probably creates drama or difficult behavior.
Understanding this can help you take a step back and see his actions in a different light.
2. Respond But Don’t React to His Bad Behavior
Stay calm and as unemotionally involved as possible. One of the most common coping mechanisms of immature individuals is through emotional manipulation.
Unfortunately, that’s likely all he learned growing up. Any reaction you show feeds into his unhealthy behavior patterns. Your best defense is to give him as little emotional fuel as possible to work with.
Depending on what his behaviors are, you may need to respond to them.
For example, if he blamed you for several problems in front of other people, you must address this. However, reacting in front of everyone will only prolong the drama. That won’t be helpful and will only fuel the energy of his manipulation.
Instead, calm yourself and collect your thoughts. Choose a private moment to approach him with a rational conversation.
3. Focus On His Better Qualities
If you are committed to your husband, he likely has many other positive qualities. Instead of focusing on his emotionally immature side, look for the skills that make him shine in your eyes.
After all, you fell in love for many reasons and chose him as a life partner so there’s at least something that attracts you to him. Think back to those early days and consider his strengths. Think about what he does today that deserves praise.
He may frustrate you daily, but that doesn’t make him evil. You’ll take the upsetting moments better if you can see him in a more balanced way.
4. Stand Up for Yourself
An immature person doesn’t think much about the needs of others. Naturally, if your husband’s usual response to problems is to blame you, he won’t think much about how fair that is.
Stay alert and speak up when something isn’t right. Defend your boundaries and speak up about bad behavior.
Tell him what you don’t like about his behavior. Tell him how it affects you and what would be a better choice. State this in a firm but kind way and do not waiver from it. You may pay a price, but it will be temporary.
Your example is important to hold up, if not for yourself, for any children in your home.
5. Model What You Want to See Him Do
Sometimes it’s easier to show what you want to happen than to describe it. Modeling can be a powerful way to make your point. Your husband was likely not taught or shown mature ways of handling painful emotions.
This lack of a good example left him to his own devices at a young age which is why you feel you are dealing with a child or teenager most of the time. Truth be told, this is about the same age he was left to fend for himself emotionally.
If nothing else, this concept might help you feel empathy towards his struggle. And it is a struggle, believe that. If you feel exhausted dealing with his behavior, imagine being inside his head. You may not realize it, but he goes to battle over small problems every day.
Show your husband how to speak calmly. Tell him you’d like to sit down and finish that conversation when you have privacy. Show him how to describe his feelings with “I” statements that don’t involve and blame others.
6. Take Care of Yourself
Dealing with difficult relationships can be exhausting. It’s not very efficient to work around someone’s mental and emotional games every day. Because of this, some parts of your marriage might take a lot of energy from you.
Assuming you wish to stay with him, you will need a solid self-care routine to keep you going. Here are some ideas:
Take hot baths, use a heating pad, and try breathing exercises. Look for other ways to keep your mindset flexible and your muscles relaxed. Your body will hold tension unless you have ways to release it.
Try exercising daily. At the very least, as often as possible. It’s been proven that exercising regularly can make a real difference in both your energy level and mood. Also, keep plenty of joyful and fulfilling activities on your calendar to look forward to. These will feed your soul.
Keep in touch with loved ones, people you count on for support. Avoid spilling the beans about your specific problems. But take full advantage of getting your social support.
Help Your Husband Become More Emotionally Mature
While none of these tips are like waving a magic wand, you can support your husband to become more emotionally mature. Unfortunately, a change like this doesn’t happen overnight.
But if he values your marriage as much as you do, he’ll get on board in his own way and time.