What is emotional childhood?
Emotional childhood is when grown adults haven’t yet matured past childhood in terms of managing their emotions. This may come off as harsh, but doesn’t need to have a negative connotation, it just is.
This is manifested in acting out, reacting to, avoiding, or blaming others for emotions rather than taking full responsibility.
What is emotional adulthood? Taking responsibility for our pain and our joy.
Emotional adulthood is not expecting or relying on other people to “make” us happy or help us feel secure.
It is knowing that I am the only one who can hurt my feelings and understanding that I do this with my thoughts.
Have you ever heard stories of therapists that tell a couple to individually make a list of his/her needs? Then each spouse shows the other what they “need” from the other to feel loved and be happy. As intentionally loving as this may sound it is a recipe for disappointment. Why would I want to hand the power of my emotions to someone I have no control over?
Getting to this point is no small task. It takes practice, but you can get there.
I used to get annoyed when D wouldn’t take out the trash. I’d think thoughts like “I worked 16 hours today and you couldn’t find the time to take this stinky bag out of the kitchen?!?” Some people may agree and validate my thinking by saying “For reals? Why didn’t that happen? LAME.”
This doesn’t mean I should never request anything from my husband—I still ask for help. But I am learning to not attach emotion to whether he does/doesn’t follow through.
I am responsible for my thoughts that create my emotions.
Handing my emotions over to someone else’s actions is disempowering. I don’t want to feel that way. Keeping myself happy takes enough energy, why expect my spouse to manage his and enhance mine?
If you resonate with any of this, now isn’t the time to beat yourself up. You’re already creating new neural pathways and these thoughts you have are optional! Being an emotional adult requires more effort and significantly more responsibility.
Three years ago Danny and I were both broken in our own very individual ways. We learned to take responsibility for our own emotions, we worked individually to heal ourselves, and now we get to meet in the middle to enjoy our time together. Our marriage has never been better. Life has never been better.