Why Does My Wife Act Like a Child?


Sometimes in the heat of an argument, one or both partners resort to immature, childish behavior such as name-calling, belittling, or making fun of the other. Many husbands wonder why does my wife act like a child?

Here’s what I know from 15 years into my 2nd marriage:

A spouse will often resort to childish behavior when they don’t feel heard, respected, or when someone close to us makes us feel uncomfortable. In those cases, there’s a strong tendency to show our emotions the way a child does; reacting instead of responding and getting even instead of trying to resolve things.

In this article, we’ll help you understand the reasons behind childish behavior and how to encourage emotional maturity in our partners.

I’ve been on the brink of divorce and saved my marriage, and I KNOW you can too, even with a childish wife

I’ve been in your shoes. You want to move beyond the pain. And you desperately want your marriage to have trust, mutual acceptance, and respect; even if your wife remains a little distant.

Luckily, all hope is NOT lost, and there is something you can do, even if your spouse isn’t sure they want to save the marriage. 

The website Regain offers licensed therapists who specialize in couples counseling and will work directly with you and your spouse online; anytime and from anywhere.

Serious about saving or improving your relationship?

CLICK HERE to answer a short quiz and see if Regain is right for you.

What are the signs of emotional maturity in a woman?

Emotional maturity is when someone can manage their feelings and how they are portrayed no matter the circumstances.

If you’re not already in a long-term relationship, it’s a good idea to look for emotional maturity in a potential partner. Some signs of emotional maturity in a woman are the ability to:

  1. Recognize and share emotions
  2. Control their emotions rather than being controlled
  3. Understand perspectives outside their own
  4. Not react impulsively in disagreements
  5. Think rationally through difficult feelings
  6. Separate themselves from a relationship problem

A partner who displays all these traits means an excellent foundation for a long life together ahead.

How do I deal with a childish or immature wife?

Deal with a childish wife by resisting the urge to retaliate. Ask questions rather than make statements, help them feel heard, and let them know how it makes you feel to be treated that way.

One sign of an emotionally immature person is a lack of awareness of how their behavior affects others.

Emotionally immature people tend to have difficulty thinking outside of themselves and may even deflect all responsibility to blame external reasons.

As frustrating as it may be, it’s important to not attack or judge.

Try understanding their behavior by asking pointed questions. Be sure to frame the questions from your perspective by qualifying it with an “I” statement.

For example:

I feel like you don’t care about me when you don’t do your share of the housework. Did you realize you do that?

Make it clear that you intend to understand them better and tackle the problem together. You’re not scolding them like a parent would a child. They should begin to see that they have responsibilities in the relationship’s success and that their behavior affects you.

Dealing with an immature spouse can be solved with open and honest communication.

Most relationship problems can. But, a childish spouse comes with some unique challenges in this department.

It seems that poor communication from the immature partner in the relationship is baked into this problem. Their lack of emotional maturity is a big part of the problem. So, expect some difficulty in communication at first.

How can I help my wife communicate better?

You can help your wife communicate better by avoiding retaliation, focus on telling her how her actions make you feel rather than criticizing her, and practicing active listening instead of just waiting your turn to talk or argue.

There’s a lot to think about in communicating well.

Teaching someone else how means there’s even more. So, here are a few tips. Keep them in mind to make sure you’re heading in the right direction with your spouse.

1. Make sure you communicate well first

Are you explaining your needs clearly? Are you able to have disagreements and reach a healthy solution? Can you control your emotions and not be overly reactive to them?

Do you project a sense of compassion towards your partner even in arguments?

You should be able to say yes to each of those before moving forward. 

If not, it might be time to do some reading before approaching the big issue with your partner. You’ll need these skills in tip 2.

2. Focus on leading by example

Bringing your partner to a more mature level of communication is essential. But doing so in a supportive way is equally important. Leading the way is a great way to show what to do and make your partner feel safer to share themselves. 

It feels terrible to always be the one who brings up uncomfortable topics. But, it might be necessary at first. Your partner most likely lacks these tools. So you’ll have to pick up the slack temporarily.

3. Use “I” instead of “You” statements

“I feel ______ when you _________.” This is a classic bit of advice for a reason: it works. 

It shares your feelings without placing blame on your partner. It creates an opportunity for understanding on both sides. 

Immature partners may be particularly sensitive to feeling called out. So, always frame statements about behavior and personality from your perspective. 

Try to understand, not attack or blame.

4. Explain your intentions

Having heavy, emotional talks is likely uncomfortable for an immature partner. Explaining the need is a great way to disarm what’s happening and make it less frightening. 

Tell them you also don’t enjoy unpleasant conversations. Let them know you’re doing this because you want to be happy with them. Explain you want the best for your relationship and care deeply about it.

Another way to make these talks more approachable is…

5. Make it a routine

Check-in from time to time even if there’s no big, bad issue you’d like to discuss. Make sure they’re ok too and give your partner the time and space to share themself also.

Soon enough, it will just be another part of your daily life without any negative stigma attached.

Are you worried about how often you and your partner fight? Read my recent article that explains why it might actually be what your relationship needs!

If your partner seems particularly resistant to change, there might be something a bit trickier to worry about.

What does it mean to have a parent-child relationship with your spouse?

A parent-child relationship with your spouse is one where power and responsibility are both imbalanced. One person takes over the parental role, while the other takes on the role of a child. 

These roles are fluid, and each person can display both qualities, depending on the issue at hand.

This dynamic might seem completely unappealing, but there are some good points that could attract someone, maybe even unknowingly, into this kind of relationship.

Parent-Child Relationships can:

    • Make the “child” feel safe
    • The “child” may enjoy being taken care of
    • Make the “parent” feel like a strong protector
    • The “parent may enjoy a higher sense of power and control

A parent-child relationship can function pretty smoothly at first. The problem is that it also perpetuates both people’s flaws in a relationship. 

The child’s lack of responsibility and emotional immaturity won’t be forced to improve this way. The child may grow bitter about being controlled or looked down on. 

Any of the parent’s sense of strength will be overwhelmed. All the extra work it takes to manage everything the child neglects will build into resentment. 

If your marriage is failing, then check out this quick video on the 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage that will help get yours back on track.

So how can you fix a parent-child relationship with a spouse?

Balance your relationship by telling your child-like spouse how you feel and what you need from them. It’s natural for a couple to have 1 person who is more responsible, but it’s not fair to that partner for all of the big decisions to fall to them alone. 

But ultimately, it’s not really that simple.

You will have to communicate your needs, be prepared to listen and ask them how they feel and what they need. It also requires an understanding that your needs may be different from theirs and how they choose to actively participate in the relationship will look different from how you do it.

As always, ask questions instead of making statements. Be patient, but clear in your communication, and ask them their opinion.

Worried that childish behavior is evidence of something bigger?

Rather than fear the worst, check out this recent article describing some signs that your wife may be thinking about leaving.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How do I deal with my wife’s tantrums?

When one spouse loses their cool and can’t control themself, staying calm is the most important thing you can do. Don’t let their anger affect you. Remember that this isn’t someone out to harm you. This is someone emotionally stunted who is in pain. Try to stay compassionate and validate their negative feelings.

But that’s easier said than done.

You’ve tried all the advice listed above. You’ve done your best to communicate well and raise your partner with you… and failed. Instead of the peaceful resolution and make-up apologies you envisioned, the worst happened. Your wife threw a tantrum.

All the classic traits of a schoolyard scrap. Needless shouting, heavy panting, and maybe even name-calling. But you do have to know when it goes too far.

If your wife’s behavior in a tantrum ever does cross the line, even if you’ve tried compassion, genuinely listened, and validated her concerns, it’s best to disengage.

In a recent article, I detail what to do when it turns to verbal abuse, and how to recognize when it’s gone too far.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

If she throws hurtful words your way, don’t go down to her level. Instead, offer a choice.

“I’d like to talk more and help you feel better, but I won’t stand for abuse. Can you calm down, or should I leave to talk about this later?”

It’s not a threat, and it’s not aggressive. It’s a cold fact that doesn’t take control away from your angry partner. 

Try all these for a very good chance at bringing a potential shouting match back to a level-headed talk. Just stay calm, and don’t be moved to anger yourself.

Takeaway

It can be a real challenge dealing with a wife who acts like a child. So, do remember to look for signs of an emotionally mature person. It can save a lot of effort and potential heartache down the line.

But, if you’re already invested in this kind of relationship, there’s still hope! Remember to always stay calm, don’t let your relationship fall into a parent-child dynamic, and be compassionate. 

Communicate well yourself and be the example your partner needs. You see that they can rise up right along with you.

Are there issues in your marriage we didn’t cover here? Need some more guidance? Check out my recent article for a whole list of ways to rekindle your marriage.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

I’ve been on the brink of divorce and saved my marriage, and I KNOW you can too, even with a childish wife

I’ve been in your shoes. You want to move beyond the pain. And you desperately want your marriage to have trust, mutual acceptance, and respect; even if your wife remains a little distant.

Luckily, all hope is NOT lost, and there is something you can do, even if your spouse isn’t sure they want to save the marriage. 

The website Regain offers licensed therapists who specialize in couples counseling and will work directly with you and your spouse online; anytime and from anywhere.

Serious about saving or improving your relationship?

CLICK HERE to answer a short quiz and see if Regain is right for you.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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