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. 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 to cope with emotions and deal 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 minor problems fine, but anything that ruffles his emotions probably creates drama or problematic 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 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 blames 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.
Think back to those early days and consider his strengths. Think about what he does today that deserves praise. 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.
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 firmly and thoughtfully, and do not waiver from it. You may pay the price, but it will be temporary.
Your example is vital to hold up, if not for yourself, but 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. This is about the same age he was left to fend for himself emotionally.
If nothing else, this concept might help you feel empathy toward his struggle. And it is a struggle, believe that. Imagine being inside his head if you think you are exhausted from his behavior. You may not realize it, but he goes to battle over minor 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. Practice how to communicate. Communication is the start key to a successful family.
6. Take Care of Yourself
Dealing with complex relationships can be exhausting. Working around someone’s mental and emotional games daily is inefficient. 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:
Your body will hold tension unless you have ways to release it. Take hot baths, use a heating pad, and try breathing exercises. Look for other ways to keep your mindset flexible, and your muscles relaxed.
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 and people you count on for support. Avoid spilling the beans about your specific problems. But take full advantage of getting your social help.
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 way and time.
24 thoughts on “6 Ways to Deal with An Emotionally Immature Husband”
This was exactly what i needed. It spoke right to me. Thank you so much for this article
Very well written. I was crying and really disliking my husband when I started this article….a little less so now. Thanks for redirecting my thoughts
My husband acts like a child almost every time he gets angry.
His mother passed away when he was 21. I strongly believe he was left alone at this point of his life to emotionally fend for himself. I could never understand why he acted so immature as a grown man. Now after reading this, I can see where the roots are coming from.
Anybody reading this, and has a son, please do your future daughter-in-law a favor and teach coping, emotional maturity, and empathy. I wish I realized how important these were before my marriage.
amen to that!!!!!!!
Amen to this!
I really hope my husband can fix these behaviors. I feel like he doesn’t see them or believe me when I try to explain he’s pouting or throwing a tantrum. I often get the silent treatment and he stonewalls me. I’m trying to get him to therapy as soon as possible as we have a baby on the way.
I’ve been on contact 0 for 3 weeks after 3 years of relationship with my child-man, he did me so so many shits but now he finally opened up and talk all and everything, mostly playing on empathy altough he still struggle with what respect is… He was devastated and he said he thought of many ways of how and why. I hope it last and slowly communicate everything in a healthy way. If he loves you, contact 0 helps, if not…you dont loose anything. Stay strong and good luck.
Thank you so much for sharing these healthy responses. I needed the clarity and here it was! I have used and benefited from using these steps before, but needed the positive reminders to start again.
So interesting how dating a socially immature man seems intriguing and worthwhile…gets pretty old when progress moves at a snail-pace and he still feels that it is the neighbors/world’s/offices/families issue(s), not his.
People can’t “fix” maturity. There is no class to take that will instantly make you mature. Maturity develops when 2 loving responsible parents raise a child with empathy and healthy coping skills. If you find yourself with someone who is over the age of 50 and is emotionally immature, stop waiting around hoping he will change, he won’t and can’t. He has essentially been stuck in that mindset since he was little. The damage has already been done. These people are dangerous , time consuming and exhausting.
This is by far the most sensible advice I have read. But thing is emotional immaturity masks itself in a lot of things that almost come out like you dealing with a Narc. I’ve been in a relationship with my spouse for 17yrs and it’s only now that i realize he just emotionally immature. I played into all his tantrums and emotional abuse that comes with it. But i’m glad because i am a stronger person and i’ve come to value my peace. Currently i am in dilemma because truth be told dealing with an emotionally immature spouse will threaten your peace. I am not sure i am ready for that!!!! Currently we have not talked for about 6 weeks even though we leave in the same house. With everyday it gets easier to continue even though i know it’s not ideal. But honestly i’d rather have peace then deal with tantrums
You sound exactly like me and my situation….it is getting so freaking old….he pouts so much….how do you deal with it?
This article speaks to me! My husband and I have been married for two and a half years although we’ve been together more than a decade. A few months before our wedding he had a personal tragedy and his mental health has suffered badly. Initially he was seeking help and it seemed like he was trying to work through it. A year ago we had out first child, and almost immediately I noticed that my husband became incredibly immature and emotionally unstable. He was never especially enlightened or emotionally mature beforehand but he did seem to have some respect for me and he was able to manage his own moods 99% of the time. Since becoming parents, and dealing with Covid lock downs, it feels like he’s become emotionally volatile and as though he’s lost all respect for me.when he’s feeling low he blames me and our marriage for all the problems in his life (work stress, living circumstances, money concerns and general dissatisfaction in his life). He doesn’t take responsibility for any of the decisions that he made which contributed to our current circumstances. He also has zero interest in how I’m feeling and what my concerns are. Although he’s behaving like a angsty teenager I believe that his mental health is the main issue. However he’s stopped trying to work on this. I am not sure what we can do to get through this.
My husband keeps throwing tantrums and im about to give up on his immaturity, everytime i tried to explain to him he never listen to me instead of blaming me his mistakes. We fought a lot and didnt understand each other. reading this might help me to have more patience and better understanding about his behavior. Thank you☺
My husband is very immature we have 2 kids a 6yr old and a 1yr old all my husband wants to do is play video games all day and me run around like a fool and cook dinner, clean, watch the kids, do laundry, bath the kids and put them to bed all at the same time while goes and sleeps or he plays games with no mind to what’s going on cuz he has this great obsession over video game eat sleep shit video games doesn’t even wanna play with the kids nothing he only help me when he feels like helping which most times he doesn’t when I bring it up to him that I need more help or say anything about the vid o games he throws the biggest tantrum won’t talk to me won’t talk to the kids ignore everyone and just be rude and disrespectful i tell him we have issues and we need consoling and he tells me no we will fix it on our own still no effort I need my husband to wake up and realize this is no game Before to last cuz I’m sooooo frustrated and drained I just need growth
Thank you for this article, and thanks to everyone who wrote in with comments. I don’t want to divorce and start over at this stage of life. My husband doesn’t recognize his anxiety/insecurity/defensively demeaning behavior. ADHD meds haven’t helped. Therapy hasn’t changed his lack of insight into his own fears and defensiveness. I read books about how to be a better spouse, how to deal with an ADHD partner, etc. He reads nothing. I’m so, so weary. Your article helped me remember that he is stuck and may be unable to change. But I can. I’ll grieve what will never be. I will continue self care and carve out my own peace. Best wishes to everyone in this same space.
It’s not easy ….I feel like giving up
I think the article is so spot on. I wish that I had been able to read this 30 yrs ago. Now I feel so stupid. Married for nearly 41 yrs.
I was naive and married very young. My husband has always been difficult. But he had some positives during the first 30 yrs.
Since I had breast cancer 8 yrs ago he seems to have got worse. That may be a coincidence but i feel very sad and alone. I have been seeing a therapist for over 3 yrs. Sometimes it helps me but he is getting worse. Moody, irritable, distant, withdrawn, argumentative, blaming, aggressive…the list goes on. But then he has a good day, or a good week, he is happy so he is nice and he is positive, affectionate and gives compliments. And we can have good times.
Meanwhile i am left feeling emotionally exhausted.
He is now saying he is depressed and blaming the weather. But he is not just like this in the winter. My family (who unfortunately do not live nearby) back me up on this as they witness his moods. I feel he blames the weather because nothing is ever his fault. If it were he would have to look inward and do the hard work on himself.
He had a bad childhood but so did I.
Is it too much to ask for someone who can express themselves calmly, stop blaming others and can be consistent in their behaviour?
I have recently discovered that not many people like him which makes me feel even more stupid and is obviously why we have never had any friends.
I am a very positive outgoing person who just wants authentic love and a happy life.
I do everything for him and get little in return. He is always tired..unless HE wants to do something. I am so sad because I try so hard to overlook his behaviour and make this relationship work. But I feel I cannot go on. But don’t want to leave. I probably should have left when the children were young and he completely abandoned me for golf. Had a one night stand and almost got our first born killed because he left him unattended in his car seat despite me telling him he was able to undo the child lock…I could go on but I feel so disappointed in myself for putting up with him and actually believing in him
I can empathise with you all. My husband is so childish and is getting worse. He wants me to treat him like a child and tend to all of his needs. He refuses to take any responsibility in life, not even for his health, give him a pill and he doesn’t have to lose weight and do some exercise. He hates me having friends, he hates sharing me, I can not bear him near me now. I can’t get passed his childish behaviour and allow him to touch me, if feels unnatural and unhealthy. He has an attachment disorder I know that for sure, the more I try to help and encourage him, he refuses by behaving even worse. He doesn’t know how to be a mature man and wants to stay in his safe place of childhood, sadly though, the world doesn’t work like that, he is not a child I am not his mother. I have even witnessed him crying when I have returned from work and he has been at home, when I ask him why he is crying, he says he doesn’t like it when I am not at home, he will have a tantrum if I am working in my office and not sat with him. I refuse to enable him, I am exhausted and sad.
I have read all the comments here and my heart breaks for you all. I have been with an emotionally immature man for 22 years. He has improved to some extent but our lives are still regularly turned upside down by many of the behaviours you have all mentioned. To the young women here, I say if it’s possible – get out. You will most likely be subjected to the same conditions until you are old and grey, and will have wasted your whole life, not living, but trying to survive. If you have young children – what is their father’s behaviour modelling for them? Nothing healthy, that’s for certain; and what is the situation saying to them about you – about what you are willing to accept, about your self-respect and dignity? Your situation is certainly not teaching your children how to have healthy relationships when they are grown. I am almost 70 and am emotionally shattered by the effort it has taken to remain with my partner. I have so many regrets. Don’t be me…..please.
I agree and so sorry for your situation, but the issue is he is so childish, immature, and unreasonable I worry for the kids as I know if I leave he will do his utmost to make things difficult if we separate as he can’t approach things like a reasonable adult. My children are 7 and 11 and I spend a lot of time shielding them from his behavior and try to be the adult in the household. I am trying to hold out as long as possible as either way he will make life a misery.
Completely agree. Have been married 20 years. My husband has very conservative, narc parents, he and his 2 siblings all are emotionally immature, narcissistic people. My husband hid it well at first. 20 years and 4 kids later, he rarely does anything for me, never for birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day, but has a list as long as his arm for himself on holidays. Flips out over everything. Rolls his eyes and complains about anything I ask if him, but trips over himself for others (can’t let them see!!)
I wish I had left after our first child, I really thought he’d get better, but he’s gotten worse (or my tolerance has gone down). People like this do not change. It is so depressing. I have 2 special needs children and it makes it hard for me to work, otherwise I would have left years ago. Once the kids are grown, I’m done.
Thank you for this article Jennifer Tanaka, it was very insightful as were the comments. I have been at the receiving end of emotional abuse from my husband for 15 years. This is my second marriage and I am 63 years old. My husband out of the blue will blame me for something I said or my tone of voice to the point of tears until I realized his criticism and angry outbursts are due to his emotional immaturity. To be fair he warned me he was damaged from his childhood traumas and suffers from depression, PTSD, ADD without hyperactivity. I have to learn not to react to his outbursts but its so hard not too! Maybe I have to mature more too but I feel if I just let his outbursts slide without acknowledging it , that will make him blame me for things even more. I agree with so many of the comments it’s exhausting. But it also confirms that I need to focus on self care and finding joyful things in life. I know i need to not take his negative blaming comments personally. I was seriously contemplating divorce yesterday because I just can’t take his blaming me for such stupid trivial things. My reaction to another one of his blaming outbursts yesterday initially was to try to talk about it but he of course shut me down by blaming me of diverting the focus of my current crime because I obviously was at fault. So my reaction was to shut down and not speak to him for the rest of the day. But that just breeds resentment and only hurts me not to mention adds fuel to the fire with him. My reactions are not healthy either. I hope I can work on detaching myself from his childish blaming because it’s exhausting and mentally and emotionally draining.