You sometimes hear people say that having a husband is like having another child.
It’s a joke, of course, but sometimes we just get a little unlucky and end up with a man who’s genuinely childish.
And no, I don’t mean a guy who collects and plays with toys and action figures because that’s totally fine. I’m talking about the kind of guy who throws tantrums!
So…what should you do when you realize that your husband is indeed childish?
Here are ten things that can help!
1) First, be aware of manipulative behavior
As kids, most of us have a hard time accepting fault and often try looking for ways to blame others for our mistakes.
It’s a defensive reaction, and it’s one of the big reasons behind why kids go “But they started it!”.
In growing up, most people learn to break free of this defensive and egoistic behavior. But not all! Some people continue to refuse to take fault even as grown-ups. Even worse, with their age, they take the whole deflection game to a whole new level.
For example, let’s say you feel like he’s been giving you too little attention. That he’s always out at the bar drinking with his buddies. In return, he’d slam his fist at the nearest wall and go “But you’re always just on your phone when I’m home!”
Or, as another example, you might complain that his cooking isn’t as good as it used to be, and he reacts by going “You don’t even cook! And it’s not like it’s my fault that you’re just hard to please.”
He’s deflecting and doing everything to avoid taking blame. This is very common in men who haven’t really grown up.
2) Build your defenses
Being aware of your husband’s BS is one of the first steps into defending yourself against manipulation, and one of the most important.
But you shouldn’t stop there. Being aware isn’t enough— you also need to build your defenses against it.
For one, you will want to educate yourself about logical fallacies, most especially informal fallacies such as false dilemma and appeal to emotion. While not always the case, emotional manipulation often involves fallacious arguments and being aware of them will add to your ability to see through the manipulation.
You will also want to reflect a bit and think to yourself,
“Is the blame being shifted to me or someone else?”
“Is he avoiding responsibility?”
“Is he playing the victim or trying to tug my heartstrings?”
It might hurt, especially if you truly love him, but you must learn how to detach yourself when he’s raging at you.
It’s like building a callus – it takes time, and it isn’t always the prettiest thing in the world to have, but it lets you handle things better.
3) Don’t stoop to his level
If you stoop to his level and throw a fit when he does, you’re basically validating his behavior.
“Well, she’s doing it too, so we’re even!” is the message he will get out of it, and he’ll feel like there’s nothing wrong with it at all.
And to make it worse, you will end up wearing yourself out as well in doing this. But what else can you do, you may ask? Isn’t it being submissive and giving him the victory to not defend yourself?
Well, you’re probably playing into his hands. If he’s manipulative, then he’ll eat it up and throw it back at you.
“You’re doing it too, don’t you lecture me about being childish! You’re a hypocrite!” is what he’d probably say… or, at least, think.
So yes, if you raise your voice against him when he does, not only are you stressing yourself needlessly, you are also validating him.
4) Give yourself some love
So you might wonder what there is for you to do if you shouldn’t stoop to his level.
Easy: take the high road.
Set clear boundaries on what he can do, and how much, before you need to put your foot down. And when he does violate that boundary, do remove yourself from the situation.
For the sake of your own sanity, disengage.
Listen to some music, go chill at a bar with friends. Give him room to cool off, and distance between you two to free yourself from having to deal with his tantrums.
Just make sure you’re not doing it to be manipulative! You have to firmly tell him “Okay, that’s enough for me for now. I hope it’s okay that we talk about this later.”
Either way, stick to your guns, and sooner or later he will start feeling stupid when you’re just not giving him and his tantrums the time of day. It might just make him realize he needs to get better.
Or it might infuriate him, but… you gotta choose yourself from time to time.
5) Call him out
Of course, just because you shouldn’t stoop to his level doesn’t mean you’re going to take the abuse sitting down either.
It’s unfair if you’re the only one between the two of you adjusting to the other!
Wait until he has calmed down before breaching the subject with him. It’s important that you wait because childish people aren’t going to want to listen to you in the middle of a heated argument.
But chances are when they’ve cooled down, they’re going to be more open-minded.
Granted, you should avoid putting your hubby on the spot and saying things that can rile him up.
So try to be as neutral and fair as possible. Avoid language that might make them feel like they’re being attacked, and make sure to state your concerns as clearly as you can. Avoid labels and insults at all costs!
For example, you might want to say something like “Dear, about yesterday, I did not like it when you yelled at me in front of my friends. It hurt.”
It’s gentle, it gets the message across.
However, if he truly is childish, his temper is inevitably going to flare even with that comment. But it’s something you must do, and maybe someday you’ll get through to him.
6) Affirm your love for him
You can’t stand him when he acts like a child, but you love him (because why else are you reading this).
If you don’t, then honestly you may want to reevaluate why he’s still your husband in the first place. If you don’t love him and you can’t stand him, ask yourself why you still want to be together.
Assuming you still do love him, well…remind him of that!
Remind him that even though you can’t stand his childishness, that you hate it when he throws tantrums, that you still love him. That you’re still there for each other while you both try to do better.
Some people just didn’t have the opportunity to “get better” as they grew older.
As kids, we often equate criticism with hostility. That pointing out their flaws equates to you not liking, or even hating them. By showing him that you love him despite your criticism of him and his character, you can help him grow.
7) Stop babying him!
Another thing to keep in mind is that even when your husband is being immature, you should treat him as an adult.
You might groan deep inside and go “Oh gods, he’s being a child again!” but no, don’t treat him like he’s a child, and do your best to stop thinking of him that way.
You might end up being condescending towards him whether or not you realize it, and that’s only going to make the problem worse.
If your husband has problems, offer your sympathy and listening ear, but don’t try to fix them. He’s a grown-up and he can deal with life’s hard knocks.
He might just be having a really bad day and he needs someone to understand him.
And even if he has been childish, it doesn’t hurt to at least offer him some measure of comfort.
8) Don’t expect a 180-degree transformation!
Even though he’s your husband, he is still his own person.
And that even though he might have flaws you’re trying to fix, you’re not exactly trying to change who he is on a fundamental level or shaping him into your ideal person.
No. What you are — or, at least, should be — doing is help him improve as a person and be the best version of himself he could be.
And even then, some habits are just that hard to get rid of especially if they have been with him for far too long. He may slip up every now and then… but that doesn’t mean he’s not trying.
So be gentle and be very patient if you love the man.
9) Keep in mind that change isn’t instant
You don’t just undo habits that have been building for decades in the span of a year, much less a month, a week, or a day! In fact, it’s suspicious if he changes way too fast. He might be faking it!
Of course, only time can tell whether or not he’s genuinely changed and that he’s indeed changed for good. Maybe he’ll control his temper for two days then burst on the third day like a volcano.
I’m sure he himself might know that it’s a problem. He might be trying. But he just doesn’t have a good enough frame of reference on how to act better, and he might be in a situation where he just can’t get into the right headspace to get better.
Manage your expectations. Be very patient.
10) Get therapy
Therapy is a big, scary word sometimes.
There are places in the world where people will immediately assume you’re sick in the head if they hear you’ve been going to therapy. And even in places where there isn’t a stigma attached to it, therapy might look prohibitively pricey!
But trust me. It’s worth it. There is only so much you can achieve without help from a professional who is well-trained in the act of helping people out with their issues.
In fact, it can sometimes be the case where trying to solve a problem without professional guidance is going to cause more harm than good! Aside from you not being an expert at this, your relationship dynamic would change for the worse.
Think of therapy as an investment from both of you to make your home life better.
You’re going to invest money into getting a better stove, or into painting your house, or even buying a pretty new TV for you and your kids to gawk at. And if you broke your dishwasher, you’re probably going to buy a new one.
So, think about it, why wouldn’t you invest in fixing your personal issues as a married couple?
Not only are you two going to get better, you’re also going to make a better environment for your future kids to grow up in.
You knew who your husband was when you went into this marriage.
Any facets of him that came to light after marriage like his childish behavior are things you might have seen bits and pieces of before.
Don’t expect a total transformation in just 7 days. Transforming your core personality isn’t an easy feat. It could take a long time…possibly a lifetime.
But hey, true love — the kind that’s loaded with patience, trust, and compassion — can make anything possible!
Can a relationship coach help you too?
If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
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