The #5 most referenced reason marriage gets messy is Selfishness.
Just this week I caught myself being selfish. Again.
I put on a pouty face when my husband said he’d be late getting home. Worn thin from three busy weekends in a row, I just wanted him to take the boys to basketball practice. I had been looking forward to a few quiet minutes to tame the dirty dishes and get caught up on blog content. That all seems pretty reasonable, right?
Only, he is just as exhausted from three busy weekends in a row. Not to mention traveling for work two out of the last four weeks. And he is the one who had to stay late at work.
I’m too tired.
I don’t want to.
I know all the experts recommend using “I” statements for effective communication, but if you find yourself using them without a counselor’s prompting, you might being seeing the signs of selfishness emerge.
The world tells us we have to look out for number one and to stand up for ourselves because nobody else will. Nobody else will be as concerned with our well-being as they should be, so we must demand to be treated according to our worth. Certainly, there are those who will take advantage of selfless servers and popular culture seems to accuse us of self-loathing if we stay in an unfulfilling marriage. The world tells us we deserve to be served.
But the world doesn’t know God’s Word.
Our incalculable worth is established by God’s Word not what our spouse does or doesn’t do for us. That same Word also calls us to serve, to esteem others above ourselves, and to forgive as we’ve been forgiven. Focusing on our own needs and desires makes a mess of marriage. For our marriages to thrive, we have to die to self. We must think less of ourselves and more of our spouses.
Our marital covenant isn’t contingent upon our partner’s conduct. Marriage should never be about what I can get for myself or what I deserve, but rather what I can give to my spouse. Instead of living life under the law, let’s govern our marriages by grace and gratitude, drawing strength from the grace God has given us.
Here are 3 strategies to squelch selfishness in your marriage.
Say You’re Sorry
Take time to see where you’ve been selfish in the past. Then ask your partner for forgiveness, pledging to forgive your spouse’s past selfishness, too. Allow each other to start over with a clean slate, not keeping any record of past wrongs. It’s hard to hold hands while you’re holding a grudge. And when you’re not holding hands the devil will move in a make a mess of things. But by letting go of past grudges and freeing each other from the guilt and shame of selfishness, we establish a connection the enemy can’t conquer.
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.
See where you’ve been selfish and say you’re sorry.
Seek the Spirit
My ability to reply sweetly to my husband was not my own. That kind of strength comes from the Spirit alone. I wanted to shout and cry and maybe even cuss a little. But God. In the span of one brief prayer sighed out before Him, helped me to see things from my husband’s perspective. Reacting in my flesh would have caused bigger problems in my marriage. Seeking the Spirit’s strength gave me the grace to respond in love.
Only the power of the Holy Spirit can take us from selfishness to selfless service. Won’t you seek that strength today?
Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.
1 Corinthians 10:24
Seek the Spirit’s strength to unselfishly serve your spouse.
Serve Your Spouse
For marriage to be the masterpiece God designed it to be, both partners must be willing to give their all for each other. I’ve discovered the less selfish I am, the more supportive he is. Yup, you read that right. The more I do for him, the less I feel the need to nag. The less I demand for myself, the more he gives freely. Waiting for him to give me what I think I deserve before happily consenting to serve him, has only proven detrimental. But when I serve him first, I find my needs are often met without even asking. We focus on what they need first, then have faith that fulfilling our needs will follow.
I love how Nichole Kauffman points out that, “the greatest weapon against selfishness is service,” in her post, How to Fight Selfishness in Marriage.
I’m most likely to be stingy serving my spouse when his affection feels scarce. But I’m prone to generosity when I feel my needs are met. What if the same is true for him? What if all I need to do is let go of my selfish desires and serve him first? What if serving him first is the way to get what I need most?
Do unto others as you would have them do to you.
Generosity solves scarcity induced selfishness.
To minimize the messes selfishness makes in marriage, say you’re sorry, seek the Spirit, and serve your spouse.
Don’t miss the other posts in this series:
and the #1 reason marriage gets messy is because God Isn’t Invited
Liz’s printed workbook, When Marriage Gets Messy is now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble on-line. It’s an 11-week workbook for wives who want to overcome 10 common messes married couples make. The comprehensive workbooks contain daily prayer, reflection questions to help you dig deep into heart issues, word studies, Bible Study material, date night ideas, memory work (not what you’re thinking), additional resources, and of course S-E-X! It makes a great individual or group study, or even a wedding gift!
Linking Up With
For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne Eller, Thought Provoking Thursday, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith and Fellowship Friday, Grace and Truth Friday, Good Morning Monday, Soul Survival, Monday Musings, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His Story, Woman to Woman Wednesday, Women With Intention Wednesday, Sitting Among Friends, Testimony Tuesday, Planting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday.