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Marriage; what my reactions say about me

Are you pouting?
Are you pouting?
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Have you ever wondered why your spouse is so reactionary? Why do they become so irritated, short, angry or condescending at times? Does he or she seem to perceive any question as doubt or maybe a perceived challenge of some sort? What do those reactions say to you? More than likely when a spouse is reactionary with those or similar responses it’s a learned defense mechanism that has developed over time. This could possibly mean that those reactions have nothing to do with you.

What has possibly happened is that you have set off some defense cue warning alarms that tend reside at low level of conscious awareness, maybe even subconscious in nature. No, this theory does not hold true in every marriage, some spouses just simply enjoy bullying their spouses which has its own related learned behaviors. One trait or characteristic that these two types of spouse could share would be emotional maturity, emotional immaturity in these cases.

Keep in mind that the development of this character defect began to develop way early in life, could be related to drug or alcohol abuse starting at a young age or simply be related dysfunctional family development. In either case emotional and spiritual growth could have been delayed. Pouting is pouting whether you are 5 or 55 years old, it just looks different. Even I, up until age 32, was pretty good at pounding my own high-chair lid. The thing is that most adults are not aware of the ongoing stress this behavior creates in the marriage.

The secondary problem, due to misunderstanding, is that a spouse returns the defensive behavior and also reacts to the perceived attack. And of course we all know that leads to a major argument. Now we have a husband and wife fighting over, until their made aware of it, a character defect that is out of their control. And could have developed decades ago, yet it is creating right now stress in the marriage. What is emotional maturity? Emotional maturity isn’t something that necessarily grows with chronological age, i.e. you don’t get more emotionally mature when you get older. Some adults are very emotionally immature; some have never matured emotionally.

Telling an emotionally immature person they’re immature will get an explosively immature reaction. Emotional maturity is being responsible for one’s behaviors– both actions and words. Emotional maturity is NOT controlling one’s emotions. It’s controlling one’s behaviors and choosing to act in a way that doesn’t impulsively give in to reactive feelings. Again, it is not about controlling your emotions; those were God given and serve a purpose. Bottling your emotions gets you nowhere and promotes bitterness and resentment anyway, so don’t do it. It’s the inability to express what you’re feeling in an appropriate manner that is the issue.

Imagine how some will react to this article, will it manifest a mature response, in most probably yes. Do a feelings check of your own right now just to notice where you are, what you’re thinking. Emotional maturity recognizes that it’s okay to feel. It’s human to feel the full range of emotions. It’s not okay to act out immaturely, definitely not illegally. Emotional maturity seems to go hand-in-hand with developing mental health. Emotional maturity doesn’t mean every person will feel the same way about a situation, stimulus or idea.

There’s some kind of relationship between core values and emotions/feelings. Would you believe values can change? There’s probably a fine line between emotions and feelings, but it’s too close to call, so use them synonymously. Be careful how you decide to run from, hide or defend your pain, you may be hurting someone you love in the process. If this characteristic describes you at all you now have the choice to reflect upon it and begin to grow from this point forward. It is not necessarily a bad thing; it just is what it is. Not being willing consider the need for change is the bad thing.

It is not totally your fault; it is natural for past experiences, baggage if you will, to influence how we react with stressed induced emotions today. Your obligation to your spouse is to do something about it now. Do not allow the negative experiences of past family or relationship dysfunction destroy your marriage today. Responding to your spouse with decades old bitterness, resentment and entitlement will only prolong your pain, increase their pain and damage the intimate partnership you call marriage. If nothing changes…nothing changes.

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