When we talk about "maturity" there are
different ways in which people can be mature and different ways in which
they can be immature. It is possible for a physical giant to be an
emotional dwarf. It is possible for a grown man to be as immature as a
13-year-old boy. It is possible for a beautiful woman to be an
emotional child. The connection this has with marriage is simply this:
(1) marriage requires maturity, and (2) immaturity in marriage is the
reason many marriages fail.
Immaturity In Children
I want you to ponder some examples of
immaturity in children. Children often show their immaturity by:
Selfish attitudes and behavior:
Some children are so wrapped up in
themselves that they care very little about others’ needs. For example,
a child may be more concerned about his broken toy than his neighbor’s
Immature children often take for granted
the things that others do for them. Ingratitude is an ugly, disgusting
thing to see. But we’ve all seen children and teenagers who show no
appreciation or gratitude for all the sacrifices and actions of their
parents. They act like they fully deserve everything they get, that
their parents owe it to them.
Demanding to have their own way:
Many children have the attitude, "If you
don’t play my way, I’ll just pick up my marbles and go home."
No sense of responsibility and
Children often feel no obligation to take
on any part of the work around the house. A child may feel it is his
right to make any kind of mess he wants to, and let someone else clean
Wrong reactions to conflicts and
We have all seen children who are happy and
contented until something goes wrong, and then they react with anger,
temper, and frustration.
Children often lack the judgment to
appreciate the true worth of things. They may treasure worthless things
and despise priceless things.
Thinking that happiness comes without
Children sometimes act like they are only
interested in themselves, and care very little about the feelings and
needs of others.
Immaturity In Marriage
Some adults never outgrow childhood
immaturity, and they demonstrate it in their marriage.
It is possible for a husband to be so
self-centered that he doesn’t care about the feelings of his wife (and
that can be true of wives as well). It’s sad that many young women
(when they’re dating) don’t realize that a young man who doesn’t care
about anyone’s feelings but his own probably won’t care about her
feelings either once they’re married.
It is possible for married adults to be as
ungrateful as a small child. Many husbands and wives hardly know what
it is to say, "Thank you." Often the words are absent because the
feeling is absent.
It is possible for husbands and wives to be
locked in a constant battle to see who gets his way. Such marriages
usually have a constant cycle: manipulative tricks, dramatic actions and
reactions, sulking, shouting, as each one maneuvers to get his way.
It is possible for married adults to have
no sense of responsibility or obligation. A wife may be financially
irresponsible. A husband may act like his only responsibility is to
"make a living."
It is possible for married adults to react
immaturely and irrationally to problems and conflicts that arise.
It is possible for husbands and wives to be
characterized by childish standards of judgment. Husbands may be
infatuated by what the world calls "glamour." Wives may be obsessed
with the desire for their husbands to make more money.
It is possible for married adults to think
that real happiness is found in getting more and more things.
It doesn’t take much insight to see that
when one or both of the marriage partners behave with such immaturity,
problems in the marriage are inevitable. The problems that are
inevitably brought on by such immaturity will eventually come, no matter
how handsome, beautiful, or sexy the man and/or woman may be.
Biblical Marks of Maturity
I want to turn to the positive side and
talk about some of the marks of maturity that the Bible connects with a
good marriage relationship.
The Bible teaches that when a man marries
he is to leave his parents and cleave to his wife (Gen 2:24, Matt
19:4-5, Eph 5:31). Rebekah is a good example of independence from
parents for women - "And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt
thou go with this man? And she said, I will go" (Gen 24:58).
Some young married men and women are still
psychologically dependent upon their parents - husbands who are still
"Mama’s boys" who can’t cut the apron strings, and wives who are still
"Daddy’s girls" who won’t build their own homes with their husbands.
Some parents encourage this kind of dependence instead of preparing
their children for independence and insisting that they be mature and
independent. Some parents interfere in their children’s marriages, and
young married couples sometimes allow their parents to interfere. This
doesn’t mean that it’s wrong for young couples to respect their
parents, or seek advice from their parents or from others. Grown
children ought to love and respect their parents, and parents ought to
live in such a way so they can be respected. It is wise to seek advice
from those who are more experienced. But people shouldn’t enter into
marriage when they can’t be independent, and they shouldn’t enter into
marriage with the idea that their parents are still going to make their
decisions for them. If a man is not mature enough to make decisions and
assume responsibility and leadership, he is not emotionally mature
enough for marriage. If a woman is not mature enough to "cut the apron
strings" and build a new life with her husband wherever he leads, she
is not emotionally ready for marriage.
Mature attitude toward sex:
The Bible teaches that God intends sex to
be an enjoyable, satisfying part of marriage (1 Cor. 7:2-5; Prov.
5:15-19). Instead of having mature, Bible-based attitudes toward
sex in marriage, some have very immature attitudes.
Some think of sex merely as something to
"get," instead of shared affection, mutual enjoyment and satisfaction.
Some use sex in the marriage as a weapon to coerce the marriage partner,
or as a manipulative tool to get their way about something. Some think
that sex, even in marriage, is dirty and sordid.
In contrast to such immature attitudes,
people with mature, Bible-based attitudes realize that sex in marriage
is a part of expressing, building, and maintaining love (Heb 13:4).
The ability to seek your companion’s
happiness as diligently as you seek your own:
I’m not just talking about the infatuation
that typically exists before marriage but often doesn’t survive
marriage. Some immature people can be considerate for a short time in
order to get what they want, but they have never developed the capacity
for real, sustained consideration that is a part of real love and real
maturity. Marriage ought to a be relationship in which the husband is
concerned for his wife’s happiness as much as his own happiness, and
vice-versa. An old story is told about a young man who sold his
pocket-watch to buy an expensive brush for his girl friend who had
beautiful hair, not knowing that she had cut her hair and sold it in
order to buy him a gold chain for his pocket-watch. That story
illustrates the kind of attitude the Bible teaches husbands and wives
should have in marriage. Ephesians 5:25, 28-29, and 33 teaches
husbands to love like that. Titus 2:4 and 1 Corinthians 13:5
teaches wives to love like that. One reason this kind of love is not
demonstrated in many marriages is because many of the young men and
women who enter into marriage have never developed the maturity that
makes lasting love possible.
Capacity to live up to commitments:
We are living in a society that makes it
easy not to develop this kind of maturity. The popular concept is: "If
you make a commitment but you find out that something is not the way you
thought it was, or something is not to your liking, or it’s too hard to
fulfill your commitment, then get out of it." We frequently see famous
athletes who renegotiate their contracts, refusing to live up to the
contract they already have. Many children are seldom required to honor
their commitments when fulfilling the commitment is found to be
In contrast to this modern attitude, God
teaches us to keep our word even when keeping our word is causing us to
hurt (Psa. 15:4). Marriage is a covenant that involves vows and
requires a commitment between the husband, the wife, and God (Mal
2:14, Matt 19:6). The fact that a marriage often encounters
unexpected difficulties and requires unforeseen sacrifices doesn’t
nullify the commitment. What is needed for marriage is the kind of
maturity that enables a person to fulfill his commitments until the
hardship is over, or even if it is never over (Psa. 15:4).
Ability to understand and accept
There is a special need for this today
because there is growing stress in many marriages over authority in the
husband/wife relationship. Instead of having a mature attitude toward
authority, some husbands think authority is a weapon to use on their
wives. Instead of having a mature attitude toward authority, some wives
think accepting authority and living under authority makes them
inferior. Some young women are even omitting the bride’s traditional
promise to "obey" from their wedding vows. What is needed is a maturity
that is capable of understanding and accepting the true nature of
authority. That means husbands who are mature enough to understand that
having God-given responsibility is a solemn responsibility, not an ego
trip. That means wives who are secure enough about their own worth to
realize that accepting authority doesn’t make one inferior. So if
someone is not emotionally mature enough to understand and accept
authority, they really are not mature enough for marriage.
I want to explain some reasons why I have
said all this: (1) To stress the fact that marriage is a relationship
for the mature, and maturity means more than the desire to get married,
and more than the ability to conceive children, and more than the
ability to earn enough money to live on; (2) Although some have entered
marriage without this maturity and the marriage somehow survived until
maturity was developed, the best time to develop the maturity needed for
marriage is before marriage, not after marriage; (3) The best guide for
developing the kind of maturity needed for marriage is God’s word. If
you are unmarried, and you want to be mature when you marry, make the
Bible your guidebook. If you are already married, and you realize you
still need to develop maturity, make the Bible the guide for your life.
An Astonishing and Horrible Thing
Competition for the Mind
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