One of the most important things for an adult to be able to do is get in touch with their inner-child. No matter how old we get, it is very important to still be able to play. When couples are able to have fun together and be youthful, that makes for more excitement in the romance department. However, when that inner-child gets out of control and the adult takes the back seat, therein problems ensue.
Likewise, trouble enters paradise when control dramas possess us to the point where we start acting like mother or father to our mate and ascribe them to a position of our child, and not our husband or wife. Mothering and fathering is a part of the marital dynamic but it has its limits and when it spirals out of control; it causes a breakdown in the relationship as well as resentment.
There is a very real difference between being childish and childlike. Having a childlike spirit is a very beautiful and lovely disposition. It opens the gateway for discovery, exploration, and creativity. Someone who is child-like can be characterized as being “wide-eyed and bushy-tailed.” In other words, ready to live life to its fullest in a good way and take the world by storm. On the other hand, being childish is a state of not wanting to take responsibility or be accountable for the choices you make. When we are behaving in a childish manner, we do not want to deal with reality or address issues that need addressing. We simple want to run away, hide, or pass it on for someone else to deal with. This behavior will heighten an already present issue of parental control drama going on in the relationship.
Both men and women come to marriage struggling to balance both of those states of being. There are times when our inner-child gets out of control and needs holding. Some days we want our mommies and daddies to kiss the boo-boos and make them go away. Sometimes we need to be reassured that it all will be okay. There are times that our inner child gets the best of us and the adult side of ourselves takes a vacation leaving the child part unsupervised and in need of attention. Sometimes the adult side gets out of control and becomes an overbearing parent, attempting to control every aspect of the relationship. At that point it ceases to be a husband and wife dynamic but rather a child/parent dynamic and here you are dealing with two supposedly adults or “grown-folks who have yielded.”
People come to marriage having their own histories and baggage from the past. No matter how under control those issues might be, every now and again they can creep up and the child part of the person manifests itself in a variety of ways. At that point, the husband or wife will step into the role as a nurturer in a similar way a mother or father would do, in order to provide the necessary comfort and hold their mate’s inner-child to make everything alright and manageable. This is natural. Marriage is a condition that is designed to heal us from our pasts when we surrender to its power and possibilities. Yet, everything is not okay when an imbalance occurs and the temporary or compensating states of being runs rampant.
When that inner child is out of control and playing destructively or not emotionally safe, it is up to husband or wife to hold their own inner child and work to bring them back in line under the authority of the adult side of themselves. Likewise, when that overbearing parent surfaces, it is time for the husband or wife to say to themselves, “Look mom or look dad, step back! That is my husband or wife, and they don’t need mommy or daddy they need their mate!”
What does it look like to have an out of control inner-child?
- Blaming others for your issues, lack of success, or reason for perceived failure.
- Not wanting to be accountable for inappropriate, anti-social, or hurtful behavior; and refusing to make adjustments when they are necessary and warranted.
- Passing off responsibility for things in your sphere of control and authority; and avoiding doing things that are for you to do and not for someone else to do.
- Refusing to cooperate, throwing temper-tantrums, and being un-reasonable and unrealistic in requests and/or expectations.
- Not taking care of yourself physically, mentally, or emotionally. Letting yourself go by having very little regard for hygiene, health, or otherwise.
- Constantly looking for approval or permission from others, especially parents on decisions that impact your life.
- Resorting back to issues of childhood as a justification or excuse for present inappropriate behavior.
- Not giving yourself permission to thrive today as an adult because of the inability, unwillingness, or fear of letting go of relationships of past that were forced upon you as a child although you now have control of the situation and own the right to choose who occupies your space and sphere.
- Allowing fear to hinder you from being a grown-up and taking the reins of your life as a grown-up in order to take care of yourself and contribute to the care of your household responsibilities.
What does it look like to have an over-bearing parent attitude present?
- Not including your mate in the decision-making process or plans.
- Not empowering your spouse to share in the household responsibilities or the upkeep of day-to-day relational responsibilities.
- Withholding resources, information, finances, intimacy, or anything else that diminishes a shared balance of power.
- Talking down to your mate or telling them what to do as opposed to making empowering requests.
- Not being able to decipher when there is not enough space or too much space.
- Not being able to step back to allow room for your mate to do things on their own that they should actually do themselves.
- Forcing your mate to have to ask for what they need from you, rather than it being readily available for both of you to access.
- Treating your mate like one of the children instead of a co-parent or co-authority.
- Refusing to surrender some of the control and yield to mate when clearly you should.
Marriage is a synergistic relationship. It is also a state of being where two people work together to help one another achieve their ultimate self in the union. Whenever the inner child or the need to nurture gets out of whack so does the relationship and at that point it is critical to help each other re-align. It can be a tough process, especially when it has gone on for a while. Yet be assured that it can be done with the two of you working together as a team.