*One mature adult
*Another mature adult
A healthy relationship is often referred to as the union between two mature adults.
But what IS a mature adult?
Someone old enough to drive? Old enough to vote? Rich enough to finance kids?
An eclectic definition, once offered, states that adult maturity involves the ability to take responsibility, make logical decisions, empathise with others, accept minor frustrations, accept one’s social roles, and know oneself (secure identity).
Why take responsibility in marriage?
Nature offers some insight. A marriage is not a union of parasites. In nature, dependent ticks feed off dogs – a one-sided benefit to the detriment of the other. Rather we are to be like the symbiotic and equally beneficial relationship that exists between the ox and the ox pecker. We each take responsibility for our own thoughts, feelings and actions and then we come together in an interdependent and mutually satisfying relationship where both parties gain.
Why make logical decisions in marriage?
Because we are not children. We aren’t meant to have self-serving emotional knee-jerk reactions to situations that don’t please or suit us. We are to exercise self-restraint and engage our minds, so that heartfelt reactivity can be delayed long enough to appeal to rational, reasonable and well thought out cognitive responsiveness.
Why empathise with others in marriage?
Because it’s no longer all about ME. Our task as married partners (and indeed as humans) is to engage in the US: cooperative, mutually beneficial living rather than competitively, where we deliberately assign room for only one beneficiary in the relationship. We understand that life is difficult at times. We recognise the struggles of others because we have insight into our own struggles and can relate. We do to and for others, therefore, what we would appreciate done to or for us.
Why accept minor frustrations in marriage?
Because we don’t live in utopia. We understand that life and people aren’t perfect. So we give grace to the minor imperfections that exist, as opposed to torment our partners into unrealistic and unattainable perfection. We do this because we stand before a mirror and recognise that the person staring back at us in the reflection is also imperfect!
Why accept one’s social roles in marriage?
Because men and women are distinctly different. They were made differently to fulfil different purposes in their marriages. Accepting and accommodating these differences (and how these are executed within the context of marriage) is the key to success with the opposite gender. We recognise that the two genders have complementary (not competitive) roles and so we seek to fulfil our own unique roles in the marriage, while encouraging and supporting our different partners to fulfil their different unique roles.
Why know oneself and have a secure identity in marriage?
Because we don’t get married to MAKE EACH OTHER HAPPY. Happiness is largely a choice. We seek to know ourselves and create our own happiness, within the context of consideration for our partners. Our partners seek to know themselves and create their own happiness, within the context of consideration for us. With little else added to that, security can be established.
Selfish ME gives way to Selfless US.
“In youth you find out what you care to do and whom you care to be – even in changing roles. In young adulthood you learn whom you care to be with – at work and in private life, not only exchanging intimacies but sharing intimacy. In adulthood, however, you learn to know what and whom you can take care of” (Erikson, 1973)
Written by Debbie Collaros, Psychologist