I recently polled my followers on Instagram and most wives have admitted to being married to a “man-child”. So what exactly is a man-child? Simply put, it’s a grown adult male who acts immaturely. According to the urban dictionary, a man-child whines, rarely takes responsibility for their actions, they’re petty, they have issues communicating, and usually have issues with “adulting” in general like helping to raise their children, doing chores, being financially responsible, or slacks off instead of completing important tasks. A man-child can act like a child in many ways and even dress like one, refusing to grow up. According to experts, if you’re dating a man-child, RUN! But if you’re married to one, it’s not that simple. So, you’re married to a man-child, now what? Here’s a list I complied to help you out.
1. Admit your role:
You may not want to hear this, but most husbands that are considered a “man-child” are married to women who are Type A. These women are enablers and usually pick up the slack. These women will take on additional chores, bills, and responsibilities that their husbands refuse to do or do not do well which allows husbands in this case to step back and get comfortable being passive and not maturing.
2. Work on yourself first:
To continue with the above statement, you cannot change your spouse. You can however work on yourself. If you’re enabling the man-child in your life, take the steps to stop this behavior. For one, start finding fulfillment outside of the caregiver role. Don’t find validation from complaining about your spouse. You may need to find out why you’re playing this role. Is it something that stems from your childhood? Did you have to care for a parent? Did you have to grow up too fast?
3. Let him take responsibility for his actions:
If your husband messes up, you’re probably already in the habit of covering for him or correcting his mistakes. As hard as it is, don’t. For example, if your husband agreed to clean the house and he didn’t, you have to be okay with the house being messy. If you want more help, you need to give time and space for your spouse to learn to complete these tasks. If you continue to get frustrated when your spouse tries, he’ll resist trying and leave the task for you to take care of. Or if he forgets to do something, and you always fill in for him, he’ll just continue. According to IMom.com, “Let’s say your husband goes out drinking with his friends and doesn’t get up for your daughter’s soccer game the next morning. While you might want to cover for him and make excuses to your daughter, let him take responsibility for his choices and talk to her himself.”
4. Stop acting like his mother:
Yelling and nagging may have become second nature by now, but be the bigger person. According to IMom.com, “Don’t sink to his level of immaturity. When your husband starts yelling or blaming, you might want to dish it right back and tell him he needs to act like an adult instead of acting like a child. Don’t. Stay on the high road. Tell him that you’re choosing to handle disagreements in a mature way and that when he’s ready to do the same, you’re all ears.” I know, this is so much easier to say than to actually practice, but if you’re refusing to be mature, how can you expect your husband to be mature? Lashing out isn’t a sign of strength or maturity.
5. Seek help:
You’ve probably read time and time again that seeking professional help is vital in cases like this. But, a man-child rarely wants to talk to a therapist. That’s fine. Again, you can only work on yourself. Seeking therapy for yourself may help you deal with issues that have gotten you in this dynamic in the first place. Working on yourself is part of working on your relationship. Try online therapy if you’re too busy or counseling at community centers or churches if you’re on a budget.
6. Keep your word:
A lot of the times, we set boundaries but we allow them to be flexible. You need to set clear boundaries and expectations and hold your husband to them. If you set a boundary to be kind and respectful while discussing something important, don’t stick around if your husband doesn’t keep his end of the deal and starts raising his voice or lashing out. If he’s agreed to take out the trash or to do the dishes, don’t take over that chore if he’s not doing it. Picking up the slack is what got you in this position in the first place. If you’d prefer, perhaps ask for help in areas that are small at first and won’t affect you if they don’t get done right away or correctly. Do not nag, instead show appreciation if your spouse shows any sign of improvement.
It important to note that relationships with this dynamic rarely improve or get better and in most cases they have a high rate of divorce if it isn’t resolved. So it’s vital to identify how you both got here, take responsibility for your role, and to find ways to improve. It is not something that can change overnight and it isn’t about one partner changing but both partners must make changes.
**If you are in an abusive relationship or feel unsafe, please seek help immediately from a professional, friend, or family member.