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‘You can be judgmental, self-absorbed, controlling, selfish and defensive.You’re like the very young, who become distressed if their gratification is delayed irrespective of the reason.The recent breakdown of Johnny Depp’s marriage to Amber Heard gave a brief glimpse into life with a man who has never had to grow up. And needs all the help he can get…’A ‘little lost boy’.The clues were already there: Johnny’s preference for playing wild, fantastical characters in children’s films (Jack Sparrow, Willy Wonka, Mad Hatter); his struggles with alcohol, substance abuse and what he has called his ‘hillbilly rage’; the rock band, Hollywood Vampires, he formed last year (aged 52); Amber’s bruised face. And then every 3 or so month [sic], I’m in the exact same position.’ Stephen writes, ‘He was appalled. But what does it mean to be married to someone who has failed to grow up?Anger is a very physical emotion.’Of course, these are lessons best learned in childhood.For parents keen to nurture emotional literacy in children, Dr Rudd has devised board games such as Rainbow and her EQ card game which encourage children to voice and understand their feelings and those of others.This can ruin relationships – and it is also potentially very dangerous.’But once children enter the picture, this becomes harder to maintain.‘Having a child is a huge test of anyone’s maturity,’ says Bristow.
‘You can’t change your partner; you can only change your role in the relationship,’ advises Bristow. ‘If he’s having a tantrum, deny the payoff by walking away. If you’ve always given in before or raged back at him, or distracted him and “managed him”, you’ll certainly feel a pull to do that, and you may even feel guilty, but hold yourself firm.’If you’re the person who needs to do the growing up, therapy can be a helpful option.
‘He seemed to resent every sacrifice, every adjustment,’ she says.
‘He sulked for days when we had to get rid of our old car – a coupé that was completely impractical.
Each day brought either a row, a tantrum or some kind of sulk, and by the time our son was six months old we were barely communicating.
All the qualities I’d loved in James – his boyishness, his free spirit – I now despised.
‘I see so many women who’ve had a baby and their relationship has gone to pot.