5 Signs You’re Acting Like a Child in Marriage Conflicts
There’s one thing I’ve learned throughout the many years of my marriage, and that is that I can never assume that I’m acting like an adult in my marriage just because I am one. Sadly, conflict tends to bring this immature tendency out in all of us more than anything else.
If you’re a mom, you’ve likely seen your children demonstrating exactly what I’m talking about. One of your children wants to do something that your other child doesn’t want to do. So they get into either a war of words, a shoving match, and/or a brawl—or all of the above! You, the objective observer, know how silly and futile this approach is. In fact, you might even think you’d take the high road if you were in a similar conflict with your husband.
But do you?
Since this tendency is so insidious, how can you know if and when you’re acting like an adult in marriage conflicts?
Let’s consider some signs to look for when the haze of conflict is thick and confusing.
5 Signs You’re Acting Like a Child in Conflict
- You handle the conflict with limited insight. So often I get in trouble when I try to reason my way out of a conflict with my husband. Thankfully, there’s a powerful way to correct my (our) childish reactions in times of conflict—pray!
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” James 4:1-2 (NIV)
There’s just something calming and clarifying about turning to God with our desires and fears in the quietness of our hearts and minds. He is faithful to give us the insight we need at times like these.
- You elevate your desires over your mate’s desires. Recently, my husband and I began to disagree about how we each wanted to lead a segment of our marriage workshop. Even worse, we did this while we were in the middle of conducting it! Talk about awkward!
Thankfully, we didn’t let our exchange get heated. But it did look an awful lot like arguing—number three of the signs your acting like a child. All we really needed to do to keep this in check was for one of us to surrender the coveted desire for the other. The question then becomes who is going to act more mature first?
- You argue rather than calmly discuss. Children, for the most part, haven’t yet mastered the ability to remain calm and respectful while discussing a conflict. But most adults should have this down by now. We can blame it on anxiety or the way our spouse pushes our buttons; but if we are letting things escalate, we’re acting more like a child than an adult.
- You defend rather than listen to understand. Any conflict will invariably escalate more and more if you’re defending yourself. In James 3:6, the Bible compares the tongue to a fire. So when we try to defend ourselves, it’s like pouring fuel on roaring fire. We can expect an explosive result when we do.
But listening acts like a refreshing rain—reducing the heat and friction the conflict has fired up between you and your mate. It also provides the necessary “insight” (see number 1 above) into your mate that you’re sorely lacking in times of conflict.
- You lose self-control in an effort to control your spouse. Children are notorious for losing control in times of conflict. That’s why this one is such a clear indicator. If you find yourself yelling and/or swearing—or worse—in an effort to control or punish your husband, then you’re acting more like a child than an adult.
Friends, lets humbly admit the areas where we can grow. While even right now you may be tempted to point the finger at your husband, let’s begin the practice of mature responses and look within.
Wife Step: Is there one of these childish ways that describes how you operate in times of conflict? Next time things get heated with your husband, commit to an adult-like response instead.
Want a resource that will help you communicate better in your marriage? Check out this resource.
Beth Steffaniak is an author, marriage blogger, life-coach, pastor’s wife, empty nester and proud grandma. She resides with her husband in southern Illinois, where they enjoy leading marriage workshops together, as well as investing in helping people grow closer to Christ, each other and the disconnected. You can find more of her writing at www.messymarriage.com.