Two Ways Selfishness Hurts Marriage
Selfish people usually don’t stay married long. And if they do, their marriage is fraught with disagreements, heartache, and hostility. Is that what you want in your marriage? Probably not. Your intention for marriage is to grow old with your partner, and live the best life you can live. While that intention is admirable and right on, it won’t happen automatically … especially when there’s selfishness involved. In this post I’m going to define selfishness, describe two ways selfishness manifests itself in marriage, and give a solution for getting beyond this marriage-wrecking attitude..
What is Selfishness?
Based on this definition, selfishness is me being so wrapped up in myself that I fail to recognize or flatly ignore the needs & desires of my wife. Selfishness gives me this false idea that what is going on with me is most important, and the concerns of my wife are a non-essential side issue. While the average person wouldn’t say, “Yeah, that’s right. It’s all about me no matter what is going on with you,” actions tend to speak louder than words. Selfishness is real, ugly, and a destroyer of marriages. Let’s look at two ways it manifests itself.
What About ME?
If selfishness had a Twitter account and completed its bio, it would read, “What about ME?” Selfishness is overly concerned with making sure it is catered to, satisfied, accommodated, aided, has things go its way, and is never disturbed. In other words, selfishness is all wrapped up in itself. When husbands and wives practice selfishness, they risk alienating their one another. And, if the selfishness is prolonged, they risk losing one another.
I’ve witnessed unfortunate cases where a husband was completely caught up in himself, his money, his looks, his comfort, his everything; and nearly destroyed his marriage. Had it not been for a very patient & prayerful wife, he would be single today. Whether he meant to or not, he took advantage of his wife and made her life difficult. When he finally got a revelation of his “What about ME?” attitude, it was almost too late.
“What about ME?” as an attitude in marriage is detrimental, and leads to serious trouble. Every married person would be wise to move away from that attitude at the first notice of it starting to set in.
Selfishness Plays the Victim Role
In addition to constantly crying, “What about ME?” selfishness plays the victim role whenever possible. Selfishness always puts itself in a position where it is being hurt, disadvantaged, treated unfairly, and being dumped on. From time to time it’s easy for any of us to get into this depressing mode and sulk. However, playing the role of a victim has never made a marriage work. Instead, it’s caused many marriages to not work because of the frustration and anguish it gives the spouse who’s always apologizing for making his/her spouse feel like a victim.
One time Cetelia and I coached a couple where there had been infidelity in the relationship. Mark (not his real name) had been cheated on by his wife, and she had acknowledged it, sought forgiveness, and tried to heal the marriage. However, Mark would not be content with her apology. He continually revisited her infidelity and played the role of the victim. While it was true that he had been disadvantaged, it was unprofitable for him to live in that space. Every time his marriage would start rolling down the road, he’d flatten the tires by playing the victim role.
Playing the role of the victim marriage is bad theater, and leads to a bad marriage. Again, every married person would be wise to move away from that attitude at the first notice of it starting to set in.
Selfishness destroys marriages, and it often happens through the “What about ME?” attitude victim role. The best way to eradicate it from your marriage is to have a giving attitude that is concerned with making your spouse’s load lighter. It’s not always easy, but it works wonders. Make a decision to sidestep selfishness in your relationship so that you’ll have a marriage that works, and stands the test of time.
Kevin B. Bullard, the husband half of Marriage Works!, is passionately taking a stand for healthy and functional marriages. He and his wife, Cetelia are seasoned marriage educators in North Carolina, and are parents of three young children.