Marriage, or any true relationship for that matter, is much more complicated than we first figured when we first married. Most couples get married without knowing anything about marriage except the example that their parents set.
And, truth to tell, our parents never sat us down and explained the subtleties of a successful marriage–mostly because, successful or not, they didn’t know why. So we get married thinking, “I love her. She loves me. That is enough.”
Love is great. But it doesn’t guarantee a good marriage. In fact, if you think about it, you argue and fight the most with people whom you say you love the most.
You see, we grew up sorta spoiled. We learned real quick that we were the center of other people’s lives. Our cries as babies cause adults to come scampering to us, we get presents at Christmas no matter how good or bad we were that last year. We are clothed, sheltered, fed, and to some degree pampered. As teenagers we learned that our parents were like ATM machines…and we didn’t even have to pay a transaction fee!
The truth is, almost all of us grew up without having to think of the needs of our parents. Our parents were self sufficient. We didn’t have to take time out of our lives to pander to their needs. Indeed, they pandered to our needs. And we got used to that.
Then we marry. We marry, not mom or dad, but someone who is as equally spoiled and self-centered as we are. This is a recipe for disaster. As a result, we end up with immature attitudes within our marriage. Attitudes that you don’t necessarily out grow.
Here is the list of attitudes of an immature marriage. You will find that you undoubtedly have at least a few of them.
1. “I have my rights!” or “That’s not fair!”
2. “If this doesn’t work out, we can just get a divorce.”
3. “Marriage is a 50-50 proposition.”
4. “I didn’t grow up this way!” or “That’s not the way mom or dad did it.”
5. “I’ve got to have a life that is separate from my marriage.”
6. “It’s not my problem. You deal with it!”
7. “You ALWAYS…” or “You NEVER…”
8. “That’s mine!”
9. “I don’t have to listen to this!” or “Don’t you tell me what to do!”
10. “It’s all your fault!”
These ten attitudes are all signs of an immature marriage. If you have some of these, they indicate a flaw in your thinking regarding marriage. It is actually very common to have at least a few of these immature attitudes. After all, it’s not like you went to a four year college and graduated with a degree in marriage. No, most of us jumped into marriage not knowing much about it.
We’ll take each attitude one by one, and I’ll show you the flaw in the thinking process and what must be done to correct it.
IMMATURE ATTITUDE – “I have my rights!” or “It’s not fair!”
This attitude in a marriage shows a fundamental flaw in your concept or idea of what a marriage is supposed to be. When you get married, the very act of doing so meant that you gave up any right to ‘your rights’.
It should not be ‘my rights’ or ‘your rights’ it should be ‘OUR RIGHTS!’
Marriage is a unity of two people and all that they are. As long as you hold selfishly to ‘your rights’ you can’t achieve the true objective of a marriage-the unity of a man and woman.
Imagine if both parties in a marriage concentrate on uplifting and promoting the marriage instead of themselves. Most of the problems in such a marriage would disappear. I mean let’s be frank, the main cause of all of our arguments is pride and selfishness.
Work towards seeing your relationship as a single whole instead of two separate parts. Else, your relationship is not a marriage it is a partnership, and you don’t have a mate you have a roommate.
IMMATURE ATTITUDE – “If this doesn’t work out, we can just get a divorce.”
This attitude is incredibly naive. It suggests that there is no commitment, no purpose to the marriage other than one’s own gratification. A marriage has to be more than other relationships. It needs a level of commitment that you’re unwilling to give to any other human on this planet.
A marriage needs a burning desire to work through any problem, overcome any obstacle, and defeat any trial. If you’re hoping that your marriage will be eternal bliss, you are sadly mistaken. All marriages have struggles, and it is the struggles that bind us closer together, propel us beyond our own selves, forces us to reevaluate our priorities, and focuses us on the true riches in life.
Without these struggles you are only a two dimensional personality with no depth and little understanding of what a deep relationship really is. Learn to stick things out. Difficulties are bound to come. You’ll undoubtedly get hurt at some point or another…but if you have not the strength to overcome it, you’ll never experience the incredible joy that comes from a deep, lasting relationship.
Look, you will always be hurt the most by people that you love the most. That is just the way it is. If you love the person you are married to, then he or she will undoubtedly hurt you at some point. Stick it out. Whether the storms so that you may find the joy and happiness you claim you seek.
People who bounce from marriage to marriage never really understand this. They use divorce as an escape because they can’t handle difficulties.
IMMATURE ATTITUDE: “Marriage is a 50-50 proposition.”
Marriage is never a 50-50 proposition. That smacks of a rental agreement, or a signed contract. Marriage isn’t a deal. It’s a lifelong commitment. If you only intend to put 50% of yourself into the relationship, then I can guarantee that you’ll have problems.
You don’t want just 50% of your spouse’s love, do you? You want 100%. If both are giving 100% into the marriage then you aren’t going to have problems. When you got married, you basically promised to give yourself heart, soul, and mind to the person you married.
Even when it comes to problems, it would be wise if you just automatically assumed at least 60% of the blame. The reason for this is simple. Your idea of what is 50% of the blame and your spouse’s could be widely different. If you’re willing to go beyond what you believe is your responsibility, you have set the foundation for a true solution to your problem.
Don’t get caught up in this game of, “Okay, I did this, now you do that.” Or, “I’m always doing things for you, when are you going to do something for me?” These kids games are unprofitable.
When it comes to a marriage, a mature marriage is one where you give all of who you are.
IMMATURE ATTITUDE: “I didn’t grow up this way!” or “That’s not the way mom or dad did it.”
One of the problems that we have when we get married is that most of us only have our parent’s marriage as a guide for our own. We get used to doing things certain ways just because that’s the way we grew up.
Don’t demand that your spouse react as your mother or father did in their marriage. You need to form a completely unique identity anyway-one that reflects your unique personalities in harmonious unity.
You might be used to your food being cooked a certain way. Don’t make your spouse cook it like mom did. That’s absurd.
One thing you need to keep in mind is that your parents spent years earning and accumulating the things that they have. Don’t expect to have all of that in your first year of marriage.
Don’t hold your spouse up to an unrealistic expectation. If your father was an 8 in a given area, but your husband is only a 4, you might get frustrated. Don’t compare. Give your husband the chance to mature and grow.
IMMATURE ATTITUDE: “I’ve got to have a life that is separate from my marriage.”
This is a very, very dangerous attitude to have in a marriage. Typically, it is men who feel they need to have this more than women do. But either way, having a life outside of your marriage is disastrous for the marriage.
Boys night out, employee parties, and other activities that you exclude your mate from will spawn a deep level of mistrust and unrest within a marriage. I make it a policy that if I can’t include my wife in something, then I won’t participate. Often my wife may not want to participate, but the knowledge that I would not purposely exclude her is what I am looking for.
Does that mean that you can’t do anything without your spouse? No. I like to golf and play a lot of other sports. My wife isn’t the sports type. She rarely goes along when I go to play golf, basketball, or baseball. Still, if she wants to come, I’m overjoyed to have her. I never tell her she can’t come.
That’s what I’m driving at. Don’t exile your mate from a part of your life. That breeds mistrust and suspicion.
Another danger is forming a mental island that only you go to. This is often the result of problems within the marriage, and you mentally escape by going to that place in your mind and life that your mate can’t come.
It could be a fantasy world where you mentally fantasize about other men or women, or dream of a world where your mate is not. This leads to a dangerous way of thinking that will eventually spill over into reality. Creating this mental island is the first step to having an affair.
IMMATURE ATTITUDE: “It’s not my problem. You deal with it!”
This one is very similar to some of the one’s we’ve already discussed. However, there is an aspect of this type of attitude that needs to be addressed.
When your spouse has a problem-then so do you!
This needs to be a concrete rule in your life. It is never just your mate’s problem. If you’re married to him or her, then it is your problem as well.
Our mates are not our children. Often, I’ll let my children flounder or struggle through their problems so that they learn valuable lessons regarding life. My wife, however, is different. If she is going through a problem, we tackle it together. Always. I never just tell her to figure it out, or that she’s the one who has to worry about it!
If she has a problem, then so do I.
Folks, this is what marriage is all about. It is a totally unique type of relationship. You choose one person for this type of relationship. It is the most complex of all earthly relationships.
IMMATURE ATTITUDE: “You ALWAYS…” or “You NEVER…”
I usually get a good chuckle when I hear this one. In my marital counseling, it is usual for couples to make absolute pronouncements on the failings of their spouse.
“You never think about me!”
“You’re always coming home late!”
“All you want is sex!”
“The only thing that is important to you is the kids!”
I have a rule that I follow when I counsel couples. Ironically, it is an absolute rule, but it has served me in good stead: “Everyone exaggerates. The truth is somewhere in the middle.”
I mentioned that to a lady once who had called me up to tell me all these horrible things about another person. She swore up and down that she never exaggerates. I told her that I’d never met someone who didn’t. She informed me that she, then, was the first. Come to find out, she not only exaggerated outrageously, she out and out lied.
When you’re upset, you’ll make these absolute statements that just aren’t true. The danger with making such statements is that they do have an impact…a negative one to be sure, but an impact nonetheless.
When someone tells you, “You are always…” This sticks in your gut and you remember these words. You begin to harbor resentment and it doesn’t matter to you that the other person said them in the heat of the moment or out of anger.
Stay away from making wild and outrageous claims.
It seems that it is human nature to do this. We do it without thinking to drive home our point or express our emotions. Do you recall the line in the very last Star Wars Movie, The Revenge of the Sith? Obi-Wan Kenobi was facing his former apprentice, Anakin Skywalker-now Darth Vader. Anakin made some comment and Obi-Wan replied, “Only the Sith deal in absolutes.” What’s ironic about that statement was that it was an absolute statement…only the Sith? You see, we do this a lot and it’s human nature.
IMMATURE ATTITUDE: “That’s mine!”
Again, this is similar to a few of the others above, but in this case I want to relate it to the physical objects in your house.
It is always a bad sign if all of your possessions are divided up between you. The table is mine, the couch is yours, the computer is mine, the bed is yours…
If you are one, then everything in the house belongs to both of you. There is only one owner…the marriage.
Now I understand that organizationally it makes sense to have a his and her closet or dresser drawers. I’m not talking about that. Nor am I talking about the individual clothes we own, or the personal stuff. I’m talking about everything else.
Get it through your head that you’re married and things will go a lot better. If I buy a computer, the computer is for both me and my wife. Always. I never worry about what belongs to who, or get upset when she meddles with my stuff. Why should I? It’s our stuff.
IMMATURE ATTITUDE: “I don’t have to listen to this!” or “Don’t you tell me what to do!”
A sure sign of a weak or immature marriage is when you or your spouse is unwilling to listen to criticism or correction. It is natural not to want to be corrected, or to hate criticism.
You need to be a big enough boy or girl to take the truth from your mate. You don’t have to like it. But you ought to be willing to listen to it, consider it, and think on it.
So many women have driven their husbands away by this. He just gives up. Many men have pummeled their wives into a trapped corner doing the same thing. It is dangerous, immature, childish, and it ought to stop.
IMMATURE ATTITUDE: “It’s all your fault!”
Finger pointing and trying to pin fault on each other is pointless. It accomplishes nothing. The blame game is something that immature people do when they feel they can’t win the argument. It is a last resort.
Stop it. Don’t worry about whose fault it is. Worry about finding a solution. To be honest with you, most of us are idiots in this area. We’re more interested in defending a position than we are in solving it. I’m certain the world will be a better place if everyone would simply agree with you. Well, sir, or ma’am, I might as well be the one to tell you. It just ain’t goin’ t’ happin’ that-a-way!
Here is what most people do in an argument. When the argument begins, there is usually something that is said that causes the other to become defensive. The defensive reaction usually results in something else being said to the first person that causes a defensive reaction in him.
So, you both pick your hill that you’re going to defend, and you start launching artillery shells at each other. The winner is the one who can withstand the artillery barrage the longest. Who cares about a solution? Who cares that we have just ignored the problem in favor of deciding who is at fault.
Unless you can stop worrying about who’s right and who’s wrong, you just aren’t going to solve a single thing. Let me be frank, when a relationship is suffering, who cares who’s at fault! Fix it!
These ten attitudes are signs of an immature marriage. Marriage is something vastly deeper and more complex than any other relationship we have. As a result, its function, design and purpose require a maturity level that, frankly, many of us don’t possess.
That doesn’t mean you can’t learn it though.
To learn more, or to get the Author’s book, Fitly Spoken, a book on developing communication and social skills for relationships, visit: www.fitlyspoken.org