EMOTIONAL MATURITY SERIES: What Is Emotional Maturity?

by | Nov 3, 2020 | Uncategorized | 23 comments

4 Markers of Emotional Maturity in Your Marriage

When it comes to happiness in marriage, success in life, and fulfilling our calling, little is more important than emotional maturity.

It’s a little ironic that I’m writing this post, the first in our series on emotional maturity, on the day of the U.S. election. But there you go–and infer from that what you will!

But I think that we don’t talk about maturity enough when it comes to marriage. We talk about love languages; we certainly talk about sex (at least I do!); but do we talk about developing habits that contribute to peace and happiness overall?

Central to that is emotional maturity, and I’d like to focus on that throughout this month.

Often marriages are in trouble or become difficult because one or both partners is rather emotionally immature. When you’re the one who is immature, you can be hindered in making necessary changes to your marriage, and you could make things worse. When it’s your spouse who is immature, you may feel like your life is about managing their emotions, rather than actually dealing with underlying problems.

As we start this series, let’s look at four markers of emotional maturity:

Emotionally mature people recognize that they can change their life

A sign of maturity is that, if your life isn’t going the way you want it to go, instead of blaming others, you figure out what you can do about it yourself. Sometimes you can’t completely fix a situation; there may be too many things working against you. But maturity means you recognize where you do have choices, even if they’re small ones, and you make use of those choices.

Your primary focus is not blaming others for the past, but rather moving ahead.

This doesn’t mean that you take responsibility for causing your problems. That may be entirely out of your control. You  may have been injured in a car accident; you may have grown up with an alcoholic mother or abusive step-father; you may have married an abuser who hurt your children, too.

You didn’t cause these problems.

But when you do have problems,  you take the responsibility to move forward, even in small steps. Even if it’s simply to ask for help because the task is overwhelming, or to admit that you can’t do it all and instead get treatment or counseling, you’re the one who says, “something has to change,” and you try to make that change.

Think about someone you know who is always ruminating on how terrible their life is. You can likely think of ten things they could do differently right now, but they seem to always refuse to do even the smallest things to make life better, instead telling you all the reasons that life isn’t fair. And, to be honest, chances are they do have a lot stacked against them, and their life is objectively difficult. But maturity is realizing that no matter how much is against you, you can still act differently. You still have the ability to choose how to respond.

But maturity also means that we are able to see problems with clear eyes.

Often emotionally immature people don’t necessarily blame others–but they continually blame themselves. No matter what problem happens, they assume that they should have handled it better. It must be a character flaw. There must be something severely, irreperrably wrong with me. They’re unable to move ahead because they’re in the thick of self-hatred. Emotional maturity rises above initial defensive, angry, or hurt reactions and asks, “now, what do I actually do?”

Note: Victims of abuse can often feel as if everything is their responsibility and nothing is anyone else’s. This is a natural response to the emotional abuse that they are suffering. If your spouse is telling you that their bad treatment of you is not their fault, but is completely your fault, please call a domestic abuse hotline, or please see a licensed counselor trained in abuse dynamics.

Also, trauma can make it very difficult to see that you have choices or to move ahead. That’s why it’s so important for those who have experienced trauma to see licensed trauma therapists to help. When the brain has been affected by trauma, moving forward can be just about impossible. But there is help, and please seek it!

Emotionally mature people take responsibility for the things that are their responsibility

Maturity is not only about how you see the outside world, and recognizing that you can do things differently; it’s also feeling the moral responsibility to live up to your responsibilities!

If you’re a parent, you take responsibility for your children. That doesn’t mean you’re never tired or exhausted or overwhelmed or stressed. But you do realize that you must keep them fed, educated, happy, and healthy, and if you aren’t able to do that well, you get help. You realize that even if your emotions aren’t in a great place, your children still need you.

Emotionally mature people also recognize that they should be doing what they can to contribute in the realms where they should be responsible.

The apostle Paul, for instance, famously wrote “whoever does not work should not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). That doesn’t mean that we all need to work outside the home, but it does mean that we should all be contributing.

I get far too many emails from people married to emotionally immature spouses who often get caught up in hobbies or having fun or doing things they want to do, and leave the work that does need to get done undone. Then the other spouse has to do far too much to pick up the slack.

Maybe you’re married to someone like that. Maybe your spouse works only sporadically, because they’re pursuing a dream–but that dream is not realistic, and they’re not working that hard at it anyway. Or maybe they flitter away the day, and you work all day and then come home and also have to make dinner and do the laundry and make sure the kids do their homework.

Maturity means recognizing that work does need to get done, and bills do need to get paid. Yes, we are to rest, and rest is important. But we were created for work, and part of being human is taking responsibility for the things entrusted to us.


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Emotionally mature people don’t blame others for their own emotions

Emotionally mature people recognize that their emotions are just theirs. And so when emotionally mature people are overwhelmed with negative emotions, they recognize that this is not someone else’s fault, and they do something about it.

They do not go into rages and yell at everyone in the home. They do not try to manipulate others into doing what they want. They recognize, “I am being irrational right now, and I need to stop.”

Now, this doesn’t mean that your spouse didn’t do something that annoyed you, or hurt you, or discouraged you. Other people certainly impact our emotions, and it’s okay and even healthy to recognize that! Emotional maturity is also about handling it properly when people do treat us inappropriately or treat us badly. It’s about recognizing when you’ve gotten into bad patterns that trigger your anger or disappointment, and minimizing those patterns or drawing proper boundaries. But what you don’t do is use your own negative emotions to threaten, manipulate, or scare others.

Note: Sometimes depression can make it look like we’re blaming others for our emotions or not taking responsibility for them. In cases of depression, a person is often incapable of “snapping out of it” or overcoming sadness or feelings of defeat. If you are experiencing overwhelming lethargy and hopelessless, please see a physician.

 


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Are you GOOD or are you NICE?

Because the difference matters!

God calls us to be GOOD, yet too often we’re busy being nice. And sometimes, in marriage, that can actually cause problems to be even more entrenched.

What if there’s a better way?

Emotionally mature people recognize their impact on others

Just as you can change your own life, you also impact those around you–and emotionally mature people are in tune to how their actions impact others.

For instance, if your spouse is dead tired every night and doesn’t want sex, an emotionally mature person doesn’t just respond to the fact that your spouse doesn’t want sex; an emotionally mature person asks, “why is my spouse dead tired every night?” And you may realize that it’s because they’ve been looking after the kids and making all the meals, while you’ve had down time. So you recognize that you have contributed to your spouse’s exhaustion.

Or if your child is whiny and fussy on an outing, you recognize that this doesn’t mean your child is “bad”; it could be that you arranged your day so that your child missed several naps, and you forgot to bring toys for your child to play with.

Sometimes, of course, other people are acting up and it really does have very little to do with you. But an emotionally mature person is able to look at the root cause of a behaviour and ask, “is this something that I contributed to?”, and then is able to respond appropriately to that.

Part of maturity is recognizing that everyone’s behaviour is highly dependent on environment. When we’re tired, stressed, hungry, lonely, we’re not going to react as well as we normally would. An emotionally mature person recognizes that both in him or herself and in others. When others react badly, they’re able to separate the behaviour from the individual and ask if there are underlying causes–causes that they themselves may have contributed to. Instead of expecting children, for instance, to act like angels when you’re out on errands, and berating them when they don’t, you expect children to act age-appropriately, and  you do what you can ahead of time to make temper tantrums less likely. But you don’t blow up at a child for acting in an age-appropriate way.

Emotional maturity, though, isn’t fixed.

In many ways, maturity comes with age, experience, and motivation.

I know many young people who are very mature, and many older people who are not. But unlike character, which is often very resistant to change, emotional maturity can change when you decide that you want to live differently and when you start taking concrete steps in the right direction.

None of this, then, is meant to say, “you are a bad person.”

Actually, quite the contrary! I know lots of people who aren’t that mature when they get married, but I’m not overly worried about it, because I know their character is good, and that they will move in the direction of their character. What I’d like to do this month, then, is talk about how we can grow in maturity, and also how we can help those around us grow in maturity, too.

So can I ask a favour? I wanted to include some stories in today’s post to illustrate what it may look like if someone won’t take responsibility for their own lives; for their own emotions; for the things that are their responsibility. But I didn’t have time because, quite frankly, we were working so hard at The Orgasm Course launch which ended last night at midnight!

So if you all leave some stories, I’d love to include them later this week to flesh this out more, because I really think this is important!

What do you think? Is there a fifth marker? Have you seen these things play out in your family? Let’s talk in the comments!
Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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23 Comments

  1. Wifey

    Agreed on the marriage factor of maturity and character! One of my dearest friends married when she was 20 and her husband was 18. Everyone loved her husband to be, he had a heart of gold, was the first to serve others, loved the Lord and had a great work ethic, but he was admittedly a bit overly goofy and sometimes stuck his foot in his mouth. His mother told his soon to be wife that she could finish raising him. 😉 Some people that didn’t know the situation well chalked the groom up to being super immature, and in some ways he was. However, my friend saw his character and his heart and knew that it was worth a bit of growing in the beginning stages. Within 3 months of their being married all of the naysayers were amazed- the immaturities were melting away and the solid man of character my friend had always seen was evident to all. They’ve been married almost a decade and have a strong, beautiful, fun loving marriage!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s wonderful, Wifey!
      I really do think that character is more important. Lots of people are just a little clueless about life in general, often because they’ve never had to fend for themselves. But you can tell that when the opportunity arises, they will do so well.
      The problem is distinguishing wishful thinking from discernment, and that’s tough! But the main thing I want people to know is that if you struggle with counterproductive approaches to life, it isn’t something that can’t be changed. You can grow. You can develop more confidence. You can know more who you are in Christ. You can develop resilience. And as you develop these things, your life will improve greatly. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person if you struggle, or a sinner, or anything like that necessarily at all. Sometimes we just need to learn and grow!

      Reply
  2. Lynnica

    Hi Sheila! I’ve been following your blog for a few months now, and I love it.
    I’m 31 and I just got married back in April, and sometimes I just feel SO emotionally immature. I have days where I just cry all day over some little thing. (Or at least it starts with some little thing, but then my mind just brings up all sorts of other things that may or may not be related.) I’m trying to do better but sometimes it seems to be taking so long! And I feel like I’m not making any substantial progress. I think, though, that I just need to be patient with myself. I think sometimes I expect a little too much of myself a little too quickly. There is progress going on, I am maturing. I mean, at least now I can admit to myself that I believe (and act out of beliefs of) things that aren’t true. There was a time when I ignored it all. And I know I’ve improved at least a little bit in other areas, too. So anyway. I’m trying! I’ll definitely be checking out the rest of this series. God is faithful and I know he’ll see me through! (Just wish I could remember that with as much confidence when I’m not feeling good!)

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      YES! I think expecting too much of yourself is ALSO a problem.
      Emotional maturity doesn’t mean that we don’t have emotions. It just means that we give them proper room, and we honour them without allowing them to control us. Jesus demonstrated all the different emotions. Anger, frustration, despondency, hurt, excitement, happiness, relief. He had all of them. But He still moved ahead with what He knew was His calling. And part of His calling was being fully human, which means being emotional. Emotions aren’t bad.
      I think I’ll do one of my podcasts on it this month!
      The problem comes when we allow those emotions to guide our actions and prevent us from growth or prevent us from doing what is wise and what is right. It’s okay if we have bad days and we have to decompress. That’s part of being human. It’s not okay if, during those bad days, we decide to spend thousands of dollars at Amazon online and drive ourselves into debt, and we rage at our spouses for not bringing us food. 🙂

      Reply
      • Lynnica

        I don’t think I know what it looks like to “give them proper room, and honour them without allowing them to control us.” I realized a few years ago that somehow growing up I internalized the idea that having any emotions besides perfect cheerfulness was bad (bordering on sinful). That wasn’t ever something that was stated outright, and if you’d asked me I would have denied believing that, but that was how I treated myself. It took me a long time to realize that. Now I can actually cry in front of people (that I’m close to), where before, if I felt like crying I would save it up and cry by myself when I went to bed that night (with my head under the pillow if necessary). Or in the shower. I did a lot of that too. But only when I was alone, never around people. But now I feel like I cry too much, and I still hate myself for making the people I love feel bad, and I just feel like they’re going to think I’m trying to shove my problems off on them. I feel like I should take responsibility and DO something, but when I feel discouraged like that, everything I can think to do (if I can think of anything) seems to have some reason it won’t work.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I think I should do a few posts on this, because I think it does confuse a lot of people!
          My husband and I read an amazing book recently that helped him see it in a different way, too. I’m hoping to have author Marc Alan Schelske on the blog, but his book The Wisdom of Your Heart was great about this. It’s about letting emotions tell us what they have to, but then still being wise.

          Reply
          • Lydia purple

            Lynnica, some of the things you wrote felt familiar to me. When I first got married I also suddenly was way more emotional than before, I think it was because of the fact that I’d never been that close emotionally to anyone before. In the Family I grew up in emotions were pretty dysfunctional between a mother who struggled with depression and a strong sarcastic way of communication in general. Actually only a couple years ago I discovered that all my life I just shoved negative emotions down and locked them up because of the unhealthy response I would get as a child when sharing such emotions. This was all totally subconscious and I was always a fun person didn’t struggle with anger or negativity but when I had my fourth child I was so exhausted that it broke open the secret locked up emotions I had stored up since my childhood… the anger came in such a force that it wasn’t reasonable at all…so in prayer I discovered that it was all that old emotion stored up of not being heard as a child. So once the lock was opened to letting emotions out when i felt unheard (my no 1 trigger) it would erupt with such a force and a lot of tears…. then prayer and sharing with a trusted group of friends brought relieve to these old emotions, but I still struggle to express emotions properly especially in stressful situations where I don’t have time to process. The best thing we can do with emotions is bring them before God and ask him for guidance and clarity and submit the emotions to him. It is good to walk in joy but without shoving other emotions down. We must face them and deal with them or they rear their ugly face later when you least need it….

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            So interesting, Lydia! I’m glad you’re on such a growth journey.
            Emotions are so fragile. We treat them like they’re the enemy, when they’re really not.
            I remember my cousin, who is a doctor, telling me a story of a friend of hers (also a doctor) whose 8-year-old daughter was really sad because of something that happened at school. And the mom sat down beside the girl and said, “That’s really, really sad. I think I’ll just sit here and be sad with you for a while.”
            That was so interesting–because our first response is to say, “don’t be sad!” But the mom knew that it WAS a sad situation, and sadness was an appropriate response, and so you have to give the sadness a chance to be felt so that you can process it. I think we try to either talk our kids out of negative emotions (convince them they’re not feeling them) or get mad at them for having them, and neither approach is good. We need to teach our kids to identify emotions and process them and learn from them. Emotions simply tell us what’s going on in the world around us and how that affects us. They’re our body’s way of interpreting our situation.
            I can just imagine how discombobulating that must have been for you to start experiencing all these things so much with your last child! Glad you’re processing it, though.

          • Jane Eyre

            My emotions were heavily stage-managed by my family. Sad or depressed was not acceptable, except when they would verbally gut-punch me.
            It is hard, as an adult, to process normal emotions. I have a very sophisticated “tamp it down and cry in private” mechanism, but I have the “be sad and work through it” mechanism of a child.

  3. Annette

    This really resonated with me right now. My husband lost his job almost five months ago after being employed 34 years. He loved what he did but hated the employer and working for a “large” company. So he has decided to pursue a consulting business and we’ve really gotten no where in five months. I think bottom line he has settled into a retirement mentality. We can’t make it on my salary alone and his severance monies are starting to run out. I really wish I would have more confidence in his ability to be self employed but I really don’t think it’s there. I’ve shared my feelings with him and he really doesn’t respond much. I know God will provide but right now I’m feeling very scared. All that we had planned for when we retired seems at stake. He is 61 and I think is just done with all of the corporate culture. I’m fine with that but then work a little harder in getting this consulting business started!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that is tough! Can you set a date–like, say by April 1 we need to see some progress, or else we need to re-evaluate our budget and figure out what other jobs we need?
      Or instead of making it job focused, look at your budget. How much money does he have to bring in every month to be able to fund your retirement? Can you live on less? Maybe htere’s a lower stress job he can do that can bring in enough money, even if it’s just working at a hardware store or something.
      After working 34 years, he may be tired. And he may be scared of having to get clients.
      But money is money, and bills need to be paid. That’s just life and part of responsibility. You’re totally right.
      So maybe if you take the tactic of saying, “We need $x, and it doesn’t matter how we get $x, but we do need $x. So can we brainstorm how to get there?” That’s less like, “why isn’t your business doing well?”
      Getting laid off is no fun, even if the job was terrible. I’m sorry it’s been so stressful for you guys. And during COVID, too!

      Reply
  4. Anon

    This is one of my greatest struggles as a husband. I am very emotionally immature. I often feel that I got stuck emotionally when I was a teenager. I act and think like I was a little kid. Not even in my twenties did I mature. I always lived like someone else would take care things for me. Specially as a christian I thought that God would fix everything in my life and all I had to do was to seek Him and things would solve themself.
    Now that I look back I realize that I ruined my own life with this thinking. I even got married in the wrong way because of my emotional immaturity. I wasnt sure about my feelings for my now wife. She pushed a lot for the relationship and marriage. I was in my mid 20s, living at home and while I was in college I was studying something I didnt want because I thought God would give me the job I wanted after my studies. Everyone was telling me that.
    I wasnt ready to get married but instead of taking charge and just break it off with my wife I was afraid. I felt guilty and ashamed. And engaging in premarital sex didnt help at all. ALl the stress of this lead me deeper into a porn addiction.
    All I could have done was to break everything off. That would have been the mature thing to do. But I didnt. As you say. I didnt take the right steps towards change. Instead I just let things happen and blamed everyone else and also myself without doing anything.
    Now I am married and have kids. My wife is a good woman and I am trying to see the positive but for almost a decade I have lived with this regret and it still haunts me. I am trying to do the right thing and be a good husband and a good father but reading this post reminded me that I use this situation to excuse my addiction(altough my therapist thinks that this is a huge reason I struggle with the addiction). I somehow have to learn to become emotionally mature and stop thinking and feeling like a kid. Life maybe didnt turn out as I wanted but I need to do what I can to change what I can.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That is hard, Anon, but it does sound like you’re making good steps and good decisions now and moving in the right direction. I’m sure you’ve been talking to your therapist about it, but have you discussed why you got stuck as a teen? Why did you not take more initiative with your life? Sometimes there’s trauma in our backgrounds that makes taking initiative difficult, and talking alone can’t heal the brain. There are some interesting treatments available for trauma, though, and if that’s part of your story, that can really help.

      Reply
  5. Wild Honey

    I don’t know if this is something you will get to later, but… how does one distinguish between emotional immaturity and mental illness? And what does someone do if their spouse is in the throes of mental illness but doesn’t acknowledge it, or refuses treatment? Real life scenarios I’m thinking of…
    (1) Husband lost his job and became very depressed and didn’t seek work or help out around the house. They couldn’t live on the wife’s salary alone and she ended up having a breakdown herself from the stress.
    (2) Husband facing a career change and loss of a dream became very depressed while wife was pregnant with their first child. Held down his job, but was of minimal help when it came to helping out around the house or with the new baby.
    (3) Husband (sorry, this is coincidence, I’m not out to pick on husbands) retires from a respected and influential career and becomes depressed in new life. Develops anger issues that he takes out on his wife, who is herself developing dementia.
    All three men of strong character, and theoretically of emotional maturity, at least until depression surfaced. All three Christians involved in church. So… is emotional maturity also the ability to recognize and try to manage mental health?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Great question! I’ll put it in the calendar to do a post about the signs of depression/anxiety, and how to talk to someone about seeking treatment.
      It can be very, very difficult, though. If the person doesn’t want to go, there’s so little that you can do. I’ve seen this in several marriages near me as well. It all ended badly. Mental illness is just very, very difficult.

      Reply
  6. Doug Hoyle

    I have been thinking about this post, and trying to reconcile it with other times the subject has been brought up. As I pointed out in a comment in an earlier post, I have had some pretty serious issues with emotions. Anger was my go to emotion for just about everything, because it was all I knew. Coaches and counselors have described me as emotionally illiterate. In short, I had to learn a whole new vocabulary of emotions to begin any sort of healing for myself. I am wondering how you think that plays into emotional maturity. Clearly I was not emotionally mature, but I didn’t know any better. Part of that was learned behavior as a child, and some was a result of trauma, neither of which I had any control over. I hesitate to say that I was what the world made me into, but in a very real sense, there is a lot of truth to that.
    So the question I would ask, is where does one learn emotional maturity, if not from ones environment. I don’t think character is a good determination. Maybe good character makes it easier to learn, but doesn’t it still have to be learned.
    I have been having some pretty serious issues with something. I bought a travel trailer a few years ago without having a good idea what to look for. I travel for work,
    and really wanted to get out of the motel lifestyle, and have something of home with me wherever I went. It looked really great on the surface, but has some pretty major issues from long term water damage that I am having to repair. On the one hand, I am angry at it being presented as something it wasn’t, but I have had to admit serious disappointment in myself for not knowing better. Repairs have been somewhat hampered by me not knowing exactly how it was put together, so I would often be stymied in exactly how to proceed. At one point, I asked my wife to just hang around and keep me company while I worked, and she told me that she didn’t wish to be around me, that my temper was too close to the surface. I admit there were a few outbursts, but I was truly trying to keep my emotions in something of a balance, recognizing all of them, and not just the anger. Often that would even include positive observations, like it isn’t as bad as it looks, and is something I can repair, and it really is only a few dollars worth of materials. Even figuring out some part of the puzzle of assembly would cheer me up and give me cause to have a little celebration.
    Still, many times I would sink inside my rocking chair on the verge of tears, not seeing a way forward. More than once setting the whole thing on fire and letting it burn crossed my mind.
    All in all tho, as much as my wife supported me in all of that, I find that I am disapointed in both of us. I am disapointed in myself for letting frustration push me into old habits on occasion. I am really disapointed in the fact that those few outbursts of anger were so off-putting to her, that she was unwilling to come and keep me company and maybe help me keep some perspective when I was beaten down, and to help me celebrate the little victories as well.
    I know in my heart that I have matured a great deal, but I wonder sometimes if it was worth it. Handling emotions, good or bad, is a very lonely place when you have to do so alone. In some ways, my life was easier when I didn’t feel anything, or at least kept everything suppressed under a blanket of anger.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Doug, I think you’re absolutely right to distinguish maturity from character, which is also what I wanted to do here, too. I do believe that we learn about emotions from our environment, and especially our family. So many people find that anger is the only emotion they’re comfortable showing because all other emotions were not allowed. I’d really advise reading Marc Alan Schelske’s The Wisdom of Your Heart. It’s amazing!

      Reply
  7. Char

    Before I met my husband, I dated a very kind man who couldn’t seem to figure out his career. I wanted to be patient with him because he was such a good and kind person. But he was in a dead end job working on exploring career options; I had already been in my dream job for several years. One day he had been reading a devotional about how God wants us to dream big and suggested that maybe God wanted him to pursue becoming a professional race car driver. I suggested maybe that wasn’t the wisest choice since he was already 31 and had never done any competitive race car driving. He insisted that if he felt God calling him, none of that mattered. I think this is another element of emotional/spiritual maturity we need to discuss more in the church. Do you let God lead you through wisdom, experience, and those who love and care about you? Or do you insist on using God language as a trump card to avoid challenging conversations? Soon afterward I communicated that I wasn’t sure if we could keep moving forward – and he suggested that if I was unsatisfied with the situation, I could just quit MY job so that we could spend more time together. At the time I owned a home, had a mortgage, and was in my dream career. Just quitting my job wasn’t an option – but also I realized that if I had to EXPLAIN that to him, we couldn’t make decisions together for the rest of our lives. We ended things, and I decided to never date someone who made me feel like his mom – like I had to explain how career paths, mortgages or reasonable life choices work. Part of what I love most about my husband is that we have a very similar strong sense of responsibility – but more importantly he doesn’t use “God called me” or other religious language to circumvent or manipulate conversations about what goals we want to pursue together.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      YES!!! The God language thing just bugs me to no end. Thanks for this comment. I think I’ll put it in Friday’s post!

      Reply
  8. Jen

    I’m really looking forward to this series! This is a subject that I have been learning a lot about over the last few years… Are you familiar with the book: ‘Joy Starts Here: The Transformation Zone’ or ‘Living From the Heart Jesus Gave You’ that is put out by lifemodelworks.org ? They are incredible, and talk a lot about emotional maturity and brain development and how trauma can stunt growth and how to move past that… It’s really fascinating and all based off of brain science from a biblical perspective. I can’t wait to hear your take on emotional maturity as well! 🙂

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  9. Lenny

    Thank you for putting in the parts about trauma and mental illness! My husband survived childhood trauma, is currently experiencing severe mental illness, but is one of the most emotionally mature people I know, and it was one of the things that first attracted me to him.
    He had “green flags” like desire for personal growth (and evidence in his life), was seeing a psychologist, was self-aware about his weaknesses, and was able to feel and communicate his emotions, without attributing any blame on external circumstances.
    I have also seen very emotionally immature people at church who we are meant to respect as elders outright lying and shouting and denying their bad behaviour (see also the ‘spiritual bypassing’ thing I mentioned on Facebook). We can all have our bad days, but it’s sad to see the fruit of people’s relationships and ministry from their emotional unintelligence or their bad character.

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  10. No Hope

    You asked for stories about emotional immaturity, so here is mine. I am extremely immature emotionally. Despite being 62 years old, I believe my emotional development stopped sometime as a young boy. I was raised in an extremely dysfunctional home with a raging alcoholic father, was emotionally incested by my mother (plus told me I was consceived when my father raped her but abortion was illegal), and sexually abused by the male neighbor I was ‘watched’ by after school for years. I was also beaten weekly by bullies at school all through elementary and high school, and publicly ridiculed for having a ‘micro-penis’ in school such that no one would befriend me, let alone date me. Married in our late 30’s, but not for love. I thought I found someone who accepted me for who I was (she did not, and began pointing out all my flaws on our honeymoon); she married for financial security. My work paid for 6 sessions with a secular counselor who said I likely have Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN), Fearful-Avoidant Attachment Disorder, and Complex PTSD. My coping mechanism to survive was to dissociate from all emotions, which I continued in adulthood by suppressing all emotions. The only emotions I’m aware of having are fear and rage, but I try and stuff these too. My wife cannot accept any “negative” feelings from me. She is also unable to share any emotions with me either. I suspect this is because her mother committed suicide when she was 4, and her raging alcoholic father frequent beat her. I suspect maybe more was done to her but have no proof. So we have lived a 25+ year marriage with no intimacy and in fear of each other’s suppressed rage (which leaks out of course). We live in the countryside with a limited income so counseling is not an option for either of us, hence no hope. Ironically, our church leadership says we need to repent of our feelings as we deserved all that happened to us and worse, and we’re each just being selfish and self-centered.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, No Hope, I’m so sorry! And your church leadership is WRONG. That is not a safe church. You’d likely be better off watching church online with a healthy church service than that. God does not see us that way. What you have is trauma. You need help for that. I know it’s expensive, but it may be worth saving up for for a few years and making this a priority. It sounds like it’s been wrecking your lives, and you don’t want to live the rest of your life that way. There are some trauma informed therapists that really can help. I’m sorry for what you’re going through. So sorry.

      Reply

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