Studies have shown that waiting until you are older to marry (twenty-five and up) dramatically reduces your chances of divorce. It gives you time to really know and understand yourself, to understand what you need in a spouse, and what you have to offer a spouse. Marriages of people younger than twenty-five, however, are not automatically doomed. I’ve known several thriving marriages of couples who married young; however, one of the common denominators among those young couples with flourishing marriages was maturity.
Mature people view the world and themselves differently than children. Children have a small world and, until their horizons broaden, they think they are the center of it. Before you start passing judgment on little kids, believe me, you were the same way at one time, as was I. ~smile~ When children grow up, they realize that the world does not revolve around them; they are able to empathize with the needs of others and they can interact with the world as a member of the human race – and not necessarily as the leader.
Our culture praises age as its own rite of passage. When kids turn eighteen, we slap a ‘grown’ sticker on them and allow them to do adult behaviors, but many eighteen-year-olds have not yet been given the responsibilities and lessons needed to grow into mature adults. When someone looks like an adult, walks like an adult, drives like and adult, works like an adult, and talks like an adult, some people might actually mistake him or her for an adult when the child is faking – it’s not difficult to do.
However, once you know someone well (i.e., you have seen him or her react in a lot of different and difficult situations), you will be able to catch true glimpses of his or her maturity level. In a dating situation, it is crucial that you notice both your boyfriend’s (or girlfriend’s) mature moments and immature moments.
We ALL have immature moments, but truly immature people will consistently have many unapologetically childish moments. Pay careful attention to how he or she acts when events don’t go his or her way.
The marriage of an immature person to a mature person is not pleasant, but it happens day after day, year after year, all over the world. Sometimes mature people marry immature people assuming they will mature in the future – and hoping for ‘soon.’ Occasionally mature people marry what appear to be a mature person only to realize too late that his or her spouse is a child in disguise. Then, there are those cases when a mature person marries an immature person because he or she is comfortable having the upper hand and control in the marriage.
What often happens in the marriage of a mature person to an immature person is a parent/child relationship. The spouse who is focused on running the home, paying the bills, and planning for the future can begin to “parent” (whether that looks like nagging, coddling, or enabling) the immature spouse. The dynamic that is created is unhealthy to say the least.
Marriage is a partnership with two people having different, but equally important, roles in the home. Constantly trying to teach, motivate, correct, and direct one’s spouse has the effect of creating a father/daughter or mother/son marriage. It does not allow for each person’s natural talents to shine through; rather, the dominant spouse is trying to mold the other spouse into something that he or she is not (and often, it will look like him or her – as if he or she is trying to make the spouse into his or her own image). And just because one spouse is immature does not mean that he or she will take kindly to being treated like a child. Adult children can throw worse temper tantrums than young children (it will often manifest itself in destructive behavior rather than yelling and screaming).
How many immature fifty-year-olds do you know? Probably not many, but they are out there… and many of them are married to people who thought they would eventually mature. Never marry anyone with the ‘implied guarantee’ that you or time will change that person.
If you know that you are not mature, take some time to develop first and wait to get married. Being immature does not make you less valuable as a person; however, it just means that you need to grow and experience life more before stepping into the adulthood role of husband or wife. It’s just like those tomatoes in the picture at the top of this post. They just take time and preparation to get where they need to be before enjoying them in a delicious meal – the top few are ready and the ones at the bottom… it’s just not their time yet.
If you are dating someone who is immature, give it additional time to see which way he or she is going to pan out. If you see no signs or strides towards maturity over an extended period of time, you might want to consider ending the relationship. After all, marriage is for adults, not for children.
With the above, I’ll leave you with two quotes to consider:
- “Maturity begins to grow when you can sense your concern for others outweighing your concern for yourself.” – John MacNaughton
- “Maturity is achieved when a person postpones immediate pleasures for long-term values.” – Joshua Loth Liebman
Are you comfortable proceeding into marriage from your current maturity level? Are you comfortable proceeding into marriage from your boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s or fiancé’s/fiancée’s current maturity level?