To maintain a truly successful and happy marriage, you both have to be grown ups about it…
Unfortunately though, a lot of us might not be as grown up as we think we are, especially when the chips are down. When fights are happening, when you feel defensive, when you’re struggling with stress, when you’re hungry or over-tired – how mature is your behavior really?
The roughest situations can bring out our worst behavior, but like anything else, it is something that can be improved upon. We’ve put together a list of damaging ways to approach the problems you may encounter, and hopefully you’ll be able to recognize if you’re slipping into these less than “grown up” ways of dealing with marital challenges.
Now, these are not accusations – and we may all be guilty of falling into this kind of behavior from time to time – but here are a few notoriously immature behaviors to watch out for:
If you find yourself saying things like, “you ALWAYS…” or “you NEVER…” – stop it!
These kinds of absolutes simply aren’t true, and only serve to make the issue at hand into something much larger, and much more difficult to resolve. When you start throwing around words like “always” and “never,” you’re no longer talking about an individual issue, but a source of frustration that is much larger – and still can’t really be resolved unless you start talking about the specifics.
Broad generalizations and absolutes take the position that things can’t change, that they are permanent and fixed as they currently are. The more mature approach is to talk bring up an “ongoing” problem, and discuss ways to develop new habits. Or, conversely, bringing up a “never” topic as “I’d appreciate if you started…”
Focus on solutions, not just accusations without any room for resolution.
This is the classic “well that’s not the way I learned how to do it…” mentality.
Change and adaptation is a constant part of our lives, and if we’re trying to dig in our heels instead of expanding and growing into a given situation, we’re only adding unnecessary difficulty and resistance. It’s amazing how many simple little things people resist, just because it’s not the way their parents did it, or because they are familiar with a different process.
The mature approach to disagreeing on a process, whether it’s how to cook dinner or what to do about a child who won’t behave, is to discuss the pros and cons of each approach, let go of your one-track way of thinking, and find a solution that you can both agree on.
Crossing your arms and refusing to collaborate is totally counterproductive, adds tension to any situation, frustrates your spouse, and prevents you from learning new things.
3. Finger Pointing
If disagreements happen in your marriage, and they surely will at one point or another, a sure sign of immaturity is trying to deflect all blame away from yourself.
This might mean lashing out at your spouse, making excuses about stress from work, blaming factors other than your own decisions, and basically looking for anything to shift the focus away from your own mistakes.
Now, this isn’t to say that every argument is your fault, or that you have to bear the burden of ALL the blame for every problem. However, it’s important to understand the role you play in pretty much any disagreement you have with your spouse. Even if you feel like you’re in the right, your spouse doesn’t, and trying to understand where they are coming from (instead of deflecting any criticism) will help you get to the bottom of the issue.
Even if you aren’t to blame, you’ll never really know for sure if you don’t face the problems head on. Accepting responsibility for your own actions and decisions is a sign of maturity, and shifting the focus away from criticism shows your spouse that you’re running away from opportunities for self-improvement.
There are plenty of other examples of immature behavior that can lead to unnecessary conflict, but these are some of the biggest problem-causers. So many arguments spiral out of control because people don’t want to accept responsibility for the role they play, and don’t want to be flexible enough to find a solution.
Instead of worrying about who’s right or wrong, worry about resolving the problem.