It's not uncommon in a relationship for one partner, due to experience and life situations, to have more maturity than the other. This imbalance can be a source of friction, misunderstandings, and arguments if not approached correctly. Unfortunately, the beginning of relationships are based more on emotion than logic, so maturity imbalances don't manifest themselves until much later, as couples learn to live with each other. Much of that learning begins with understanding how to communicate with each other.
Begin a conversation with your partner about how to communicate maturity needs and wants in your relationship. Set up the conversation in a structured manner, allowing each partner to speak and then listen to the other. Allow the other partner to speak first. Listen carefully and do not interrupt.
Take notes with a notepad and pen if it helps to remember what your partner said. Yet don't treat the discussion clinically. Joke, laugh, sympathize, ask questions and seek explanations when you don't understand a statement clearly.
Explain your needs and desires for maturity in a relationship. Try to point out the issues that concern you without being accusatory. Clarify your statements or restate them if your partner doesn't understand you or what you're saying.
Try to find common points between each other as you listen and explain. Don't try to make everything in your relationship serious. Take a look at the roles each of you play in the relationship, such as who manages the money, who speaks for the couple, and how you deal with friends. Decide which relationship roles you can give up and let your partner control and those you can be responsible for.
Identify the areas of immaturity in the relationship you can tolerate and live with. Make sure both of you have "safe zones" in the relationship where you can be yourself without worrying about upsetting your partner. Repeat these five steps regularly to maintain mutual communication in the relationship.
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- Try to avoid being critical of your partner. Your partner can perceive this as "nagging" behavior.
- Avoid always trying to be the one who wins the argument, has the answer, or fixes things with a solution. While it may just seem to you like you're being helpful, to a partner it can come across as annoying, and like you're too much of a know-it-all.
Since 2009 Tom Lutzenberger has written for various websites, covering topics ranging from finance to automotive history. Lutzenberger works in public finance and policy and consults on a variety of analytical services. His education includes a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science from Saint Mary's College and a Master of Business Administration in finance and marketing from California State University, Sacramento.
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