Conscious Birthing implies conscious relationships and conscious living. Emotional maturity and response-ability are part of it. Sadly, many woman in India, whether they are aware of it or not, are in a relationship with an immature partner. Especially when married, a woman oftentimes does not only have to work, take care of the household and children, but also has to care of her husband, a “manchild”.
The manchild can operate the most complicated machines, can repair cars and fix electric equipment, but he is unable to deal with a dishwasher or washing machine. If confronted about his lack of contribution to the household and relationship, he becomes emotional like a child. Needless to say that a manchild is not the best support when it comes to reliably supporting and protecting your birthing experience. In fact, he might not even be the best partner to raise a child with, as he is still a child himself.
And what about the upcoming generation? How are you teaching your sons and daughters that house work is family work, not women’s work? How are you teaching your sons that it is not a woman thing. That women do not really like to or want to do all the care of the house. And above all, they do not want pick up after their man as if he is a child. Being pushed into a mommy role by a man is not conscious, not fair and not appropriate.
People who are emotionally immature sometimes have intense and dysfunctional relationships with their parents. For men, this can include how they relate to their mothers.
The unhealthy dynamic usually starts in childhood and is sometimes referred to as enmeshment. When a man is enmeshed with his mother, he might continue to rely on her to meet his emotional, social, practical, and financial needs (even when he is in a partnered adult relationship).
Instead of taking responsibility for their actions or behaviours that might have caused problems, a person who is immature is likely to blame others. People who lack emotional maturity tend to see and present themselves as always being an innocent victim. So an immature person might prefer to spend time with others who also lack emotional maturity, as these individuals are less likely to question, criticize, or challenge their behaviour.
You might find that you dislike many of your partner’s friends because of how they behave. You might even consider these friends to be a “bad influence” or worry that they are stoking your partner’s immature behaviour.
People who are immature often don’t have healthy ways to cope with stress. They tend to use consumption of alcohol, tobacco, food (substance abuse) as well as media (entertainment, video games, porn) to avoid their feelings, responsibilities or anything else that causes them stress. In contrast, an emotionally mature adult takes up a stress-relieving activities such as yoga, tai chi, jogging or swimming, confides in a friend, works with a therapist and basically has a solution-oriented approach to problems.
The manchild lacks a sense of responsibility for some of the more mundane aspects of adult life, like paying the bills or household tasks. He refuses to contribute to any of the cooking, household shopping, cleaning or laundry. If asked to help with chores, the manchild might respond with irritation. And he might need to be “bribed” for performing tasks that are simply a routine part of keeping a home and functioning as a responsible adult.
Menchildren who feel entitled to being treated a certain way by their partner might “act out” if they feel that their needs have not been met or have been ignored. Emotionally immature men who are parents might even feel threatened by their own children. For example, a man might be upset if his partner prioritises the kids’ needs before his (a behavior that is also common in narcissistic parents).
At first, his behavior might have been fun and entertaining. Perhaps you were drawn to him because you felt that he was a “challenge” or someone that you could “fix” or change. His childlike behavior might have made you feel like you needed to take care of him, dote on him, or guide him.
What to do?
Initially, you might have felt attracted to and enjoyed these aspects of your partner’s personality. As your relationship progressed (perhaps even to marriage), however, you might have become exhausted by, or even resentful of, your partner’s immature behaviour.
The first step is to ask yourself how you might be enabling your partner’s behaviour. It might be that there are certain aspects of your personality and life experiences that have influenced how you relate to your partner.
Think back to your childhood. Do you feel that you had to grow up fast? Were you overly responsible because you had to care for siblings or a parent? Is it possible that you are continuing to perform the caretaker role in your adult relationships?
While it is important and necessary for you toe stablish healthy boundaries it will not necessarily “cure” your partner of their immature behavior. These boundaries are for your health and well-being. You can also work on changing yourself. If you have been enabling your partner’s behavior, the changes you make (such as letting go of or shedding the caretaker role) will help both you and your partner move forward.
Throughout this process, you and your partner might benefit from working with an experienced holistic therapist to understand your behaviour patterns and work on changing them. A therapist can help someone identify the underlying reason for their behavior. Emotional immaturity can sometimes be a sign that a person has a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety, or borderline personality disorder (BPD).
In this context, we would like to mention The Great Indian Kitchen (2021). A movie that examines the drudgery of housework through the experiences of a recently married woman. The wife’s physical and emotional labour is invisible to her family, especially her insensitive husband. The film points out typically Indian male entitlement.“Traditional producers, in Kerala at least, would never touch a movie like this,” Baby pointed out. “That’s why we produced the film ourselves along with our friends on a roughly two-crore budget.”
reference: Is Your Husband a “Man-Child?” By Marni Feuerman, September 17, 2020
title illustrations: Jerzy Wierzy
cartoon illustration: Wise & Aldrich