Is emotional maturity a female thing? (Hint: Nope!)
And what does emotional maturity look like?
In today’s podcast I’m actually having a guest–Marc Alan Schelske, the author of The Wisdom of Your Heart. And then Keith and I are talking about men and emotions!
And here it is on YouTube!
TIMELINE of the Podcast:
0:55 Interview with Marc Alan Schelske on Emotional Maturity
17:00 Keith and Sheila discuss Emotional Responses
19:45 What is stonewalling, and what does it look like?
29:02 How to Communicate better with a stonewaller
36:05 What Does Research Say about Emotional Intelligence?
39:40 Why Men are at a societal disadvantage with emotions
41:20 A Big Tip to Help Couples with Emotional Connection & Intimacy
Main Segment: What is Emotional Maturity?
Marc Alan Schelske joined me to talk about emotional maturity, based on his book The Wisdom of Your Heart, which I’ve mentioned repeatedly this month, and which I talked about on Tuesday on our post about books that can help you grow more mature.
I love what he said about emotional maturity: How we have emotions, which are just signals of what your subjective or objective experience, and then we have the reactions to those emotions. Emotionally immature people see them as the same thing–you feel something, so you act this way. Emotional maturity is having a gap between emotions and reaction, to leave room for reflection. Exactly!
Find out more about Marc Alan Schelske:
- The Wisdom of Your Heart (Paperback, ebook, audiobook)
- The Untangle Workbook–a workbook to help you walk through reflecting on something emotional you’ve having trouble dealing with
- The Untangled Heart Workshop–a course to help you grow emotionally mature as you learn to reflect and process emotions.
Reader Question: How do you deal with stonewalling?
Then Keith joined me as we talked about stonewalling and tried to roleplay how to deal with stonewalling behaviour. We used some comments from last week’s post on stonewalling:
In my marriage I don’t think we’ve actually ever dealt with an issue completely. My husband won’t talk about the issue, like zero words come out. He doesn’t walk away or get angry, he simply won’t say anything or on the rare occasion he does say anything it turns into him bashing himself. I then feel terrible and end up apologizing for even bringing it up in the first place. I have been taking a new strategy in which I lay out everything that’s wrong tell him what I could be doing better or different then give him time to collect himself and answer usually a day or so. This has turned into him still not addressing the issue and acting as though everything is fine and still wanting his needs met. I honestly feel as though I’m going crazy! I don’t know what to do, he simply won’t engage in conversations that need to be had. I’ve talked to a close friend and she has no advice so I’m at a loss.
My husband is learning and growing in this area, but he is emotionally immature. He 100% meets his responsibilities, is an exceptional provider, reliable, stable, consistent, etc. But talking about his emotions or mine, or certain taboo topics, is off limits. He reverts to the emotional manipulation that the first commenter mentioned, or explodes in anger. I have certainly had my part in it, but I’m learning how to address issues in a way that’s calm, reasonable, doesn’t assume his motives, etc. I do believe part of his emotional immaturity stems from having an emotionally manipulative mother and a passive, unemotional father.
Over the years I’ve learned to (usually) not respond in anger, but I have a hard time being assertive enough to bring up sensitive topics again after the explosion.
And I 100% agree that this type of emotional immaturity is a huge obstacle to real intimacy.
And we chimed in at the end of the podcast with a reminder that, if discussing emotions when you’re bringing up issues is difficult, then sharing the high/low exercise on a regular basis gives you a chance to talk about emotions in a non-threatening way first. Take our emotional connection FREE email course to help you grow closer and more intimate, step-by-step!
What Does Research Say? Women Are More Emotionally Mature
We talked about two studies that showed that women are more emotionally mature in 11 of 12 marks of emotional maturity, and that having female managers helps companies do better.
Our conclusions? Women aren’t better than men. It’s simply that women have more practice with emotions and with language, and that gives women necessary skills that benefit everyone.
So what should we do? Help men grow emotionally, too, and raise our kids to be able to name and process their emotions. There’s no reason that men can’t be emotionally mature. Emotional immaturity is not a masculine trait. We need to get past this idea that emotions are feminine, and instead help all of us to embrace our emotions, since God Himself has emotions. They are part of us. Dealing with them effectively is part of healthy living!
Sign up to the email list so you can be part of our audience participation element!
We want to start an element of the podcast where you all chime in, so we’ll be asking a question in our Friday newsletter that you can answer, and then we’ll be featuring some of those answers. So make sure you’re signed up!
Are you GOOD or are you NICE?
What do you think of Marc’s definition of emotional maturity? How would you handle stonewalling or self-bashing? Let’s talk in the comments!
Posts in the Emotional Maturity Series:
- Four Markers of Emotional Maturity
- Do We Use God Language to Avoid Maturity?
- 2 Keys to Handling Stonewalling Behavior
- 6 Ways to Grow in Emotional Maturity
- A Book List to Help with Emotional Maturity
- What Does Emotional Maturity Look Like (Podcast)
- When Christian Resources Perpetuate Your Spouse’s Immaturity
- What if Emotional Maturity is a Skill Guys Can Learn?
- How Anger is Like an Iceberg
- What is Real Masculinity?
And check out 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage–my book that covers emotional maturity. Plus there’s a FREE group study you can take with it!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of Bare Marriage
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I haven’t gotten a chance to listen to the podcast yet so I’m not sure if you address this, but something that has helped in my marriage a lot is asking good questions. My husband is not emotionally immature, but similarly to the first commenter, he has difficulty vocalizing things and sometimes will just be silent. It frustrated me to no end until I realized I could help.
Instead of just bringing something up (an issue, disagreement, my feelings about something) and then expecting a response, I will explain the thing that’s on my mind and then ask him questions. I’ve found it’s best to start with yes or no questions and then move on to more open-ended ones.
When I bring up this issue, does it make you feel defensive? frustrated? angry? inadequate?
Does everything that I said make sense to you? What part doesn’t?
Do you think I’m being unfair in my analysis of what happened/is happening?
Is this a foreign concept to you or can you relate at all?
Is there anything I do that makes you feel similarly to how I’m feeling about this issue?
Obviously, the questions vary depending on the issue being discussed and his responses, but if you are the spouse that is usually the one bringing up the issues or better at verbalizing thoughts and emotions, it is so helpful to learn how to ask good questions. Obviously, this only works if you have a spouse who generally has good will towards you and wants to resolve things. If your spouse is totally opposed to working out issues or is stonewalling, you may not be able to get any answers out of that spouse.
This has made a huge difference in the way our conversations go. Hopefully it could help someone else as well!
Love that, Jess! Really practical. Thank you.
That is very helpful! This approach has the potential to take the sting out of the issue and promote deeper thought. Thank you!
Wow, Love this podcast so much!! Thank you!!
Thank you for the encouragement!
Completely off topic, but Sheila did you see the Elise Sole article on Yahoo News about Candace Cameron Bure’s view on sex in Christian marriages that came out today? #Winning?
I didn’t! I’ll go look, Chris.
Maybe you could have your people talk to her people and you could do a guest podcast!
So the message at church this morning really spoke to me. I go to Life.Church so you can probably still listen to the message on their website if you want. Pastor Amy Groeschel spoke and one thing she said was that she discovered you can feel sad and lonely and other unpleasant feelings and still feel thankful. And she quoted a verse from Job: “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord .”
And it just struck me that the fact that Job had faith in God didn’t stop him from feeling. He was terribly upset. He tore his clothes, he shaved his head. He mourned, publicly and privately. And still he praised. It’s ok to feel bad. Job is not condemned for grieving, for having these “negative” feelings. But even though he FELT this way, he CHOSE to trust. His ACTION was to praise, not to curse (as Satan thought he would). His trust in God, and even his praise of God and His goodness, didn’t mean he went around with a smile on his face while his life was falling apart. He still mourned. But at the same time, his mourning didn’t negate his faith in God.
It just seemed to go along very well with this series so I thought I’d share.
This series is really impactful for me, God is teaching me a lot. Thank you again Sheila! Your blog is a godsend!
That’s beautiful, Lynnica, and so true! Thank you for sharing that with us!
Ok, so I just got the opportunity to listen to the podcast. A couple of general thoughts. As a man I don’t think I was ever taught not to have emotions, but I was definitely taught not to let them guide you in your decision making as emotions change with the wind and that will complicate sound decision making. We were also taught that outside of very rare life or death type circumstances, you shouldn’t show any emotion (this includes anger, contrary to what your guest said in the podcast) because the uncontrolled display of emotions could cause others to panic. The philosophy here was “if you keep your head, your soldiers will keep theirs” it was a leadership thing, atleast how it was taught to us. Uncontrolled display of ANY emotion was definitely also made clear to us to be a feminine trait. But I think a lot of this is generational to be fair.
I think that for me the problem is isolating which emotion I am actually feeling as most often it is several. Since this blog deals primarily with sex in marriage lets use that as an example. Not sure if you guys in Canada have ever seen the American game show wheel of fortune but for me, its the closest metaphor I can use. Each segment of the wheel was occupied by an emotion i might feel if i spin the wheel (try to initiate sex). Some examples of where the wheel might land could be “acceptance” or “elation” or “love” or “knowing” or “pleasure” but of course “rejection” “pain” “fear” “frustration “ “disappointment “ “anger” and confusion” are the other spots on the wheel. I came to believe that the wheel in our marriage was weighted or something because the needle all ways fell on the negative “bankrupt” type emotions. Eventually, it lead to developing an anxiety just to touch the wheel let alone try to spin it. But as the years have gone on i think (still trying to seperate out all the different feelings) its mostly confusion and sadness that dominate this area. For me trying to isolate a particular feeling is the hardest part of emotional maturity as you called in on this post.
I know my comment Sunday was pretty positive but I’m still struggling to understand if my feelings even matter. I have a couple situations in my life that I’m trying to figure out what to do about. And I’m scared. And scared to be scared.
Every time I think about pretty much anything emotional, I get scared. I’m afraid I’ll be told that I shouldn’t be scared. Because if I’m told there’s nothing to be scared of it just feels like confirmation that I can’t trust myself. That I’m being melodramatic. Getting worked up over nothing. Then I feel sorry for feeling this way (both feeling scared and scared about being scared), because I know trying to tell anybody is just going make them feel bad for me. They’re not going to really understand why I’m so worked up. At best, they’ll just feel a little bad, maybe give me a hug, pat my shoulder, etc. At worst, they’ll say its more overreaction, why do I ALWAYS blow things out of proportion, react like it’s something crazy when really it’s very simple, tell me to just “calm down” … like I wouldn’t love to not be so upset. Or maybe just turn away, because obviously I’m not in a good mood and if I’m not going to be rational then there’s no point engaging with me right now.
If I think too long about this I’ll get sarcastic and cynical. Then I recognize I’m thinking that way … I know I shouldn’t be and I don’t actually want to be cynical, snide, etc…. then I’ll just be tired and resigned. Or maybe I’ll just go straight to tired, resigned, because they’re probably right. I’m sure I’m being melodramatic, need to chill out.
So I hardly ever talk to anybody. A lot of time I have trouble even talking to hubby because … I’m so afraid. Because. If there’s nothing to be scared of then that means
/I’m wrong for being scared./
And if I insist on being wrong. Continue being scared of things that aren’t worth it. Then nobody can help me. Because you can’t help someone who refuses to change. So if I keep feeling scared (about anything really) then even people I love will see I can’t be helped. So they’ll withdraw. Because I’m obviously rejecting their help by continuing to feel things so strongly.
So they’ll believe I don’t love them, don’t want to be loved by them. They’ll be hurt, but will respect my wishes – that is, what I have shown by my actions that I want – they’ll withdraw, stop trying to help, resign themselves to loving me from a distance.
Lynnica, I understand and I am praying for you. You are entitled to your thoughts and feelings. Here is hoping things get better for you.
Thanks Chris. I’ll be praying for you too