by Carol L. Meylan, MBA, LCSW and Cynthia M. Braden, MFT
For most couples, it is easy to be considerate and collaborative in a new romantic relationship. You see your partner through a fresh lens: everything is new, exciting and full of possibilities... he or she seems to be everything you hoped.
However, pretty soon Life Happens and your feelings get hurt or you feel unsatisfied in some way. You may entertain ideas of judgment and non-acceptance about your beloved, and start to focus on flaws that should be corrected. (In the nicest possible way you decide to tell him or her what's wrong... it's for their own good!)
You may be shocked or irritated when your partner doesn’t appreciate this input or agree with your opinions.
How someone might react to this disagreement could be an example of Emotional Maturity or lack thereof! When that initial negative interaction with your partner occurs, what happens next?
What is Your Style? Where do You Go?
Here Are Favorite Strategies Which Reflect the Opposite of Emotional Maturity:
More Non-Emotionally Mature Techniques for Communication and Getting Your Needs Met:
We Need to Choose Something Else
When you don't agree or feel triggered it can be easy and/or automatic to blame your partner. It is natural to want to blame someone when you feel pressured and frustrated. The important thing is to notice that you are doing "it", in this case blaming... and a relationship based on blame, shame and guilt is not going to work.
Instead learn to bravely tell the truth about what's going on with you in that moment, in a fair, empathic and/or solution-focused manner without blaming, shaming or controlling. Become more Emotionally Mature.
What is Emotional Maturity?
One of the essential ingredients in a successful relationship is the Emotional Maturity of each person.
The good news is that Emotional Maturity can be developed or improved at any age.
Children are primarily focused on themselves: their biological needs, wants and pleasures. If things don’t work out the way they would like, children make no secret that life or people aren't meeting their expectations. Adults will not be confused about whether the child is satisfied! Children do not concern themselves about the needs and feelings of others when confronted with their demands. This is normal and age-appropriate in children. However, this survival-oriented framework should mellow into relational skills such as empathy, objectivity, self-control and Emotional Maturity as humans reach adolescence and adulthood.
Emotionally mature adults realize and accept that many situations in life are outside their control. When faced with a difficult situation or unexpected problem, they are able to understand and manage their emotions while working collaboratively toward solutions. Emotionally mature people are able to accept and deal with what happens in life – they don’t expect life to be perfect, easy, or problem-free. In a relationship, Emotional Maturity is demonstrated through your attitude and behavior toward yourself and your partner.
Some of the Key Components of Emotional Maturity Are:
Relationships move in the direction of calmness, ease and happiness when you consistently set the example of demonstrating Emotional Maturity whether your partner does or not. You avoid so much unnecessary drama. You stay in control of yourself and don’t succumb to damaging or irrational behaviors. You compromise because you remember that you love this person. And you feel good about yourself because you know that you are creating your relationship on a daily basis by your attitudes and behaviors.
How Can You Increase Your Emotional Maturity?
Strengthening your emotional maturity is a process. To start, you can give yourself permission not to react negatively when you are provoked. Try to observe your impulses and reactions in stressful situations and realize that you have the ability to choose how you want to respond in any moment.
Notice how you feel when things don’t go the way you want. Listen to your self-talk. Feel what's going on in your body. It helps to write down your thoughts and feelings. Then think of alternatives or 're-frames'. How else could you interpret what is going on? What is a more balanced way of looking at the situation? Is there a different, kinder, nicer way you can conceptualize the current problem rather than heaping blame on yourself or someone else? How you choose to respond consistently over a period of time is going to determine the quality of your relationship. In other words, you can't get to this great, loving relationship if you're still frequently stuck in blaming, non-acceptance and/or guilt mode.
The next time a 'situation' arises, slow down. Try not to react immediately. Be honest with yourself about how you feel emotionally. Think about how to state your feelings and opinions in a respectful, non-judgmental way. Learn to laugh at yourself and life. Notice how you feel when you remain calm. And then notice how your partner responds to you. See how your relationship will be improved by integrating knowledge of Emotional Maturity!
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