“Our wedding was so beautiful. I do not understand why our marriage failed. What went wrong?” I hate to crush anyone’s dream or fantasy, but the stability and happiness of a marriage have nothing to do with a wedding ceremony. A beautiful ceremony and a beautiful marriage relationship are two entirely different matters.

     All married couples go through challenges and struggles of some sort. Some marriages start off well, persevere, and just keep getting better with time. On the other hand, there are marriages which feel like they were “doomed from the start.” Why do marriages fail? Each case is unique, so we should be hesitant to overgeneralize. The causes of marriage failure can be complex, or they can be elementary.

     No doubt, some marriages struggle greatly (and may end like a shipwreck) due to immaturity on the part of one or both spouses. If we are talking about little children, sure, we expect them to be immature. That is what little kids do – they act like little kids. However, when immaturity abounds in married couples, watch out for big troubles. In what ways do some husbands and wives act just like little kids? Maybe you and I or those contemplating marriage can learn some helpful lessons from these matters.

     ŸSelf-centered, thinking only of self – Yes, that is the mentality of toddlers. It is a disaster, though, to see such demonstrated by a wife or husband. All married couples need to practice the principle of Philippians 2:4: “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” In marriage, it is no longer a question of what makes me happy, but what is good for us and our marriage. Truly, love “does not seek its own” (1 Corinthians 13:5).

     ŸHang on to mama and daddy – Of course, when troubles or fearful things transpire, kids run to their parents for safety. To a small child, it seems that in the bosom or arms of a parent, any problem can be solved or minimized. Marriages hit rocky roads, however, when one or both partners try to hang on to their parents instead of devoting themselves to their spouse and trying to deal with the challenges of marriage and life in general. The “leave and cleave” of marriage are essential (Matthews 19:4,5).

     ŸRespond to tough situations with yelling, hitting, or cutting words – do whatever it takes to hurt others. We all have witnessed little kids acting like that. It is a sad, serious scenario when married folks treat one another in that fashion. Blessed is the marriage in which both spouses carry out these words of the Master in their dealings with each other: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them . . .” (Matthew 7:12).

     ŸIrresponsible – Parents cannot wait until the day comes when their kids will learn to clean up their own messes, keep their room in order, and take responsibility for their actions. Sadly, some wives and husbands are still living in the fantasy world of little kids, which basically is, “Let someone else do it and serve me.” That will not “cut it” in marriage. We are reminded of what Jesus declared about one being faithful and dependable in the smallest matters (Luke 16:10).

     ŸSay whatever comes to mind – In their innocence, little ones have no concept of thinking before they open their mouths to talk. If they think it, they just blurt it out. Sometimes it is cute; other times it is embarrassing. In married adults, though, these words apply: “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back” (Proverbs 29:11). Open communication is important to the marriage relationship, but speaking immaturely is not.

     ŸDesire to retaliate – It is common for small children to try and “get even with” or “pay back” those who have made them upset. We see such action still being carried out by some teens and even adults. It is sad. When such childish shenanigans are the means of communication that a husband or wife use, such immature behavior will not result in anything productive. God’s way – the helpful approach, is spelled out like this: “Repay no one evil for evil . . . do not avenge yourselves . . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17,19,21).

     ŸCan easily see the faults of others, but cannot see their own shortcomings – Again, we expect little ones or those struggling to adjust through the period of adolescence to point a finger at others while being blind to their own misconduct. When such happens between a married couple, watch out. Fireworks are sure to follow, coupled with hurt feelings and resentment. While it is not always wrong to point out another person’s mistake, let all married people remember this truth when dealing with their spouse: “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged . . .” (Matthew 7:2).

     If it is your conclusion that some married people “just need to grow up,” we would give a double “Amen” to that notion. There comes a time in life when a person needs to “put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11). Seriously, some husbands and wives need to get out of the diaper-stage of throwing tantrums and acting like spoiled brats. The security of their marriage and soul depends on it.

     A number of years ago, on a school wall I saw banners which encouraged students to show these characteristics: respect, responsibility, perseverance, caring, self-discipline, honesty, courage, and fairness. Those are great principles in any relationship, especially in marriage. Think about it.

Roger D. Campbell

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