Have you ever had someone yell out, “Oh, grow up!”? Perhaps your parents said it to you when you were younger. Or maybe your spouse said it to you more recently, or you said it to your spouse. Whatever way it is, if it’s currently true of one or both of you —that’s definitely problematic if there isn’t a mindset determined to do just that… grow up.
Patsy Rae Dawson wrote an Embarrass the Alligator article titled, The #1 Reason for Marriage Problems and Divorces? Refusing to Grow Up! We’re thinking she’s onto something here. When we examine the reasons why most couples divorce there is usually at least one spouse who wants to cling to his or her “toys” reflecting singlehood behavior, not marriage. He/she wants things to go their own way, instead of working to “marry” their lives together for the benefit of both of them.
Grow Up Time
Frankly, marriage is grow-up time. Kids can get away with childish behavior —not wanting to work together. But it’s just not good when you make the sacred vow to someone and to God to “love, honor, and cherish” each other, but then you don’t do what it takes to keep that promise.
The Apostle Paul, in great Love Chapter found in 1 Corinthians 13 wrote, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” That’s a great truth for all of us to cling to —especially those of us who marry.
Patsy Dawson makes the important point we should all take seriously:
“Paul asserted that the #1 root cause of being unable to love others is refusing to grow up. …Christianity is about growing up from the heart —changing the way a person treats others. It’s about practicing love —not just preaching it from the pulpit.”
The Apostle Paul also told us in 1 Corinthians 14:20, “Do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.”
In Ephesians 4:15-16 we’re told, “speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head into Christ, from the whole body joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped …so that it builds itself up in love.” We are called to maturity. If you want to act like a child, don’t take on responsibilities that require maturity. And if you have already, then commit to do what it takes to grow up.
Barbara Rainey made this point (in a Family Life Today article titled, 5 Ways to Help Your Husband Step Up to Manhood when she wrote:
“Choose maturity. Sometimes in your marriage, one or both of you can act selfishly. Have you ever seen two children riding their bikes, and when the child in front stops, the child behind begins to ram his or her bike into the one in front instead of asking that child to move over? It’s called needling or just plain intimidation. Oftentimes the kid in front gets mad and the situation escalates. It’s called childishness.
“Sadly most of us enter marriage still clinging to some childishness in our behavior patterns. Your spouse may act like an adolescent at times, but the problem cannot be solved by manipulation, or criticism. One of you needs to choose maturity first to get out of the cycle.”
Again, grow up!
Honestly, we have to do that continually in our marriage, even now. It’s so easy to get caught up into selfism. But that’s not what we are to do as Christ followers, and it’s not what we vowed on our wedding day to do for the rest of our lives. Marriage demands grow up time! May we all take on this mission to do our part —that’s what we hope and pray.
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
If you are not a subscriber to the Marriage Insights (emailed out weekly)
and you would like to receive them directly, click onto the following:
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Grow Your Marriage
7 responses to “It’s Grow Up Time!”
Someone wrote to our ministry and said the following:
“I have to respond to this one…’One of you needs to choose maturity first to get out of the cycle.’ One partner growing up will do nothing. Eventually, the one who grows up will become completely frustrated with the other one who refuses to grow up, and the divorce will still happen! Come on. You know that…”
Yes, that CAN be true. But I know of many, many marriages where one spouse inspires the other to do his or her own part. So no, I don’t “know that.” This is what happened in our own marriage and many others we know. You can’t MAKE your spouse do his or her part, but you can at least do what you should. When you know you are to do something, you are responsible to do it. God won’t listen to… “I would have done this if she/he would have done that” or “I wouldn’t have done that, if he she wouldn’t have done that…” That’s what Adam tried to do, and Abraham tried to do, and many others. God doesn’t listen to our excuses just because our spouse won’t step up. We all come before the Lord as one, and so does our spouse.
Don’t allow yourself to believe the lie that because you hurt so badly, solutions to do that which you should not, are acceptable. They are not. We are called to grow up, whether our spouse does or not. Again I’ll say it, one of us needs to choose maturity first to get out of the cycle. Do what you can to do that (without being prideful or “in your face” about it because that causes even more problems) and pray earnestly for God to work on your spouse. As Ruth Graham said, “It’s my job to love and pray for Billy, it’s God’s job to make him good.” We are not our spouse’s Holy Spirit… we’re accountable to God alone. And reaching for maturity is something God will embrace.
I stand by what we wrote, even though the results won’t always bring about the best results. God gives us all a free will. I hope with your free will, that you will do the right thing, even if your spouse doesn’t.
I think my husband is immature due to online war games. He spends endless hours on the games, often chatting with people all over the world. I’ve seen several things from women that were not appropriate. He used to get me up in the mornings for coffee, prayer, and devotions–and now it’s his gamers he spends time with. He does not hear my end of day small talk. He hides it from me at times and acts like a child and gets angry if I mention his time consumption online. He is more worried about logging into his fake brigade and conquering virtual territories than conquering family time.
Should I worry? I feel ignored, unimportant, neglected, emotionally abused and I get a really bad gut feeling most days when he comes home from work. Help me please.
Khara, What I see as I prayerfully look at what you wrote is that your husband is in a spiritual battle that he doesn’t even see. He thinks he’s playing war games on line, but actually, there is spiritual warfare going on trying to take down your marriage, his integrity, and his walk with the Lord. At the very least, you need to be petitioning and fighting for him in prayer. Have you seen the movie, War Room? I recommend you see it or purchase it, and the supportive books that can help you in this battle.
I pray your husband wakes up. There’s nothing wrong with playing on line games (if they don’t go against scriptural values), but there needs to be a balance in time and energy spent because gaming has an addictive element to it. Just as with anything, there needs to be a balance and common sense used. Yes, playing online games can be fun and can be a good outlet. I’m thinking it probably meets a testosterone need that a lot of men have, which is fine. But when this type of thing takes away more time and energy than it should from one’s marriage, and when the online community steps over the line as far as what’s appropriate to do or say (especially as it concerns members of the opposite sex, then it is invasive and boundaries need to be put into place. That’s all, or else your marriage explodes into a true battlefield.
Khara, you are trekking on very volatile territory here. The enemy of our faith is working overtime on your husband and he just doesn’t see it. I believe you have a Queen Esther situation here. If you recall, in the Bible, Queen Esther had a HUGE problem, which she needed to discuss with her husband. But she also knew that there was a right way, and a wrong way to approach him so the situation could be brought out into the light and taken care of. What you need are the right RESULTS –not to BE right. That’s why taking her approach (as in the movie, “The War Room”) may be your best move because I’m thinking your husband may be defensive on this issue and not be wide open to reason because he’s enjoying the fruit of his gaming.
We’re told in the Bible that Queen Esther fasted and prepared her heart with God in prayer, and adjusted her countenance according to what God showed her so she could approach her husband the best way possible. God led her to be very respectful, cool and calm as she spoke. I truly believe, because she was bathed in prayer, He honored her by paving the way both before she approached her husband and then afterward as He spoke to her husband’s sense of reasoning.
But you need to realize that even if you use this approach, you may STILL not get the results you want –just as Queen Esther knew she was taking this risk. However, it would be better to do this God’s way than yours or mine. You have much more of a chance that you’ll get a better result. Ask God to help you to discern when would be the best time to talk with your husband. Usually it’s wise not to make the approach during a time when you should H.A.L.T. –which would be a time when either of you is Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. There’s more vulnerability to be less tolerant during those times. Be wise, as God shows you.
I’ve found that when I’ve prayed and have approached my husband God’s way, I’m wiser, meeker (the definition of meekness is “strength under control”), and more aware of what I say and how I say it. It’s a matter of saying things in a way that he might be more receptive to truly listening and won’t be as prone to slam his ears shut, as he may have otherwise. It’s important to say things as respectfully and lovingly as possible, and yet get the point across. The point is not to dump raw feelings upon him when important issues are at hand. God can show you how to do that.
It seems that there is a way that a “win/win” situation can come about where your husband can still do some gaming (with boundaries), and you can have time with your husband too. Pray, approach, and see (with God’s leading) if you and your husband can come up with a plan where you both win, and so does your marriage.
Dear Sirs or Ma’am, I am a 44 yr male, own my own business. I am with a 24 yr old female, came from an abusive mother, drugs alcohol. I was brought up in a Christian home. I was no way a model son. I drank, did drugs, got in fights, so on. This woman treats me better than any ever has. I’m very insecure, have trouble with trust. She wants marriage. I’m afraid, deathly. I’m at a loss.
Bless your heart Beau. So sorry life has been so difficult for you. There sure are a lot of temptations, snags and hardships sometimes (some are from our own making, and others not). I greatly sympathize with you. As far as marrying this woman, I’m not sure. I’m glad she treats you so well. But I can tell you that marrying out of neediness is never a good idea. You want to bring your best self, so you are more of a giver, than a taker. If both spouses are more of givers, fully committed to making the marriage work, then you will find ways of weathering every storm that comes your way… and there WILL be storms. You can count on it.
Beau, it would be better to work on more of your issues first, and come into marriage with a mindset to continue to grow and give. No one has “arrived” but when you are working with insecurity issues to the point that you are grasping for security in unhealthy ways, it can be problematic, to say the least. It sounds like you have more work to do, before you are ready for marriage. I’m not sure entirely, but from the few things you’ve written, that’s what I perceive.
You say you were raised in a Christian home. I hope it was a good one, even if you weren’t a “model son.” Even if it wasn’t a healthy home environment, you can learn to grow one in your own home. Today can be a new beginning. Find a good church. I know this sounds like simplistic advice, but truly, a good church and good, healthy, supportive friendships can go a long way in helping you to grow up into the man you were born to be. If this gal is as great as you say, then work together to be the couple that grows up together and gives to each other in ways that demonstrate true love, not just a selfish, taking type of love. I sense that you can do this, Beau. I sense it with all my heart.
You have several strikes against you –especially with a 20 year difference in ages. But it’s time to grow up and see what obstacles you can finally climb over, rather than falling into the pit between each one. Make today a new beginning, get into a healthy community with others that can help bring the best out of you, and you will have a good foundation for a marriage –especially if you allow Christ to be savior AND Lord of your life. I hope you will. I believe in your Beau. I pray you will begin a new journey in your life –one that reaches for good, and maturity… leaving the old ways behind.
Interesting thoughts. When I was in seminary one of the classes I took dealt with the effects of drug abuse (including alcohol) on the person and the family dynamic. Drugs stump a person’s emotional growth. Worse kids who have to deal with these parents become abused and often co-dependent. This also stumps emotional growth. So we end up with adults who have the emotional maturity of a child. This is my wife’s story. It took her years to “grow up”–not because she didn’t want to but because she didn’t know how.
Reflecting on our struggles, I am sure this scenario is also the cause of many a divorce. Because of Jesus and I don’t have this background, we were able to go thru it all with victory.