Emotional Maturity: Are You 3 or 43?
By: Kathy
September 2, 2012

How emotionally mature are you?  We would all like to believe that we are mature, rational adults, but if we are honest with ourselves, we’ve all got some emotional immaturity in us.  Let me illustrate the difference. . .

Immature:  I snap at my partner because I feel irritation.

Mature:  I recognize that I am irritable and why, so I calmly let my partner know what I need to help me feel better.

Immature:  I let something bother me until I blow up at my partner.

Mature:  I tell my partner as soon as I am aware that something is bothering me so we can calmly discuss it.

Immature:  I call my partner names and belittle them when we are arguing.

Mature: I realize that name-calling and belittling does not help the situation and I can voice what is really bothering me instead.

Immature:  I stuff my feelings down instead of sharing them with my partner because I am afraid it will start a fight.

Mature:  I bring up something that is bothering me with my spouse and am emotionally prepared for their reaction.

Immature:  I act on my sense of urgency to fight with my partner, knowing that I am reactive and emotionally activated.

Mature: I recognize that I am reactive and I force myself to wait until I feel more stable to discuss it with my partner.

Immature:  I am defensive and argumentative when my partner complains about something I am doing.

Mature:  I recognize that my I am not perfect and expect that my partner will have complaints about my behavior.

Immature:  When my partner complains about me, I remind them that they have done the same thing. (cross-complaining)

Mature:  I hear that my partner is bothered by something and I validate their feelings.   Any complaints I may have about them can be brought up another time.

Immature:  I get angry and cut off from my partner abruptly during a fight by storming out of the room.

Mature:  I tell my partner that I need a break from the discussion.

Immature:  I complain bitterly or attack my partner because they aren’t meeting my needs.

Mature:  I find healthy ways to get my own needs met and share with my partner ways in which they can help me meet my needs.

I give these examples because I have spent a lot of time talking with couples about the healthy way to conduct themselves during tense periods in their relationship.

The truth of the matter is that we can act like adults in our relationships or we can act like we’re 3 years old.  Usually when one partner shows emotional immaturity, the other one follows suit, often without much hesitation!  If we take the focus off of our partner’s childlike behavior and instead, try to gauge how adult-like our own behavior is, we begin to mature!  When we begin to mature, our partner’s childlike behavior no longer reaps the same reward and they are forced to mature as well.

A 3 year old is very limited in their list of options on how to handle a situation.  They are learning as they go what works and what doesn’t.  As adults, we have choices and options that 3 year olds don’t.  Before you react to something, ask yourself this:  Do I want to be 3 – or do I want to be (insert your age here)??  A true adult gets to choose!

Please hear this:  If you shame your partner for acting emotionally immature or show them this article to prove their childlike behavior, you are still being 3 years old!  A healthy, mature, responsible adult does not need to shame their partner; they simply have an adult response to childlike behavior.