When Marriage Gets Messy - Selfishness

When Marriage Gets Messy – Selfishness

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.

But I…

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.When Marriage Gets Messy Selfishness

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.

James 3:16

See where you’ve been selfish and say you’re sorry.

See where you’ve been selfish and say you’re sorry. #whenmarriagegetsmessy #selfishness Click To Tweet

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.

Seek the Spirit’s strength to unselfishly serve your spouse. #whenmarriagegetsmessy #selfishness Click To Tweet

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.

Luke 6:31

Generosity solves scarcity induced selfishness.

Generosity solves scarcity induced selfishness. #whenmarriagegetsmessy #selfishness Click To Tweet

To minimize the messes selfishness makes in marriage, say you’re sorry, seek the Spirit, and serve your spouse.

When Marriage Gets Messy Selfishness

To minimize the messes selfishness makes in marriage, say you’re sorry, seek the Spirit, and serve your spouse. #whenmarriagegetsmessy #selfishness Click To Tweet

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Don’t miss the other posts in this series:

     10. Finances

     9. Unmet Expectations

     8. Adultery

     7. Outside Influences

     6. Complacency

Coming Soon:

     4. Misaligned Priorities

     3. Yoked Unequally

     2. Communication Breakdown

and the #1 reason marriage gets messy is because God Isn’t Invited

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When Marriage Gets Messy - Selfishness

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Linking Up With

For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne EllerThought Provoking ThursdaySusan B. MeadFaith Filled FridayGrace and TruthFaith and Fellowship FridayGrace and Truth FridayGood Morning MondaySoul SurvivalMonday MusingsRah Rah Link UpTell His StoryWoman to Woman WednesdayWomen With Intention WednesdaySitting Among FriendsTestimony TuesdayPlanting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday.

23 thoughts on “When Marriage Gets Messy – Selfishness

  1. Such a great post and series! Selfishness obviously puts the focus on us when marriage is meant to glorify God through our choice to love our spouse. It is so detrimental to marriages. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Everything we say and do ought to bring glory to God. But too often I fall short. And it seems it happens most with those to whom I’m closest. Such a shame. Thanks for your encouragment, Melissa!

  2. “And when you’re not holding hands the devil will move in a make a mess of things” The simplicity of this statement with the knowledge that it is deeper then it seems on the surface really caught my attention. I have a feeling as I continue my week, I will be doing a check in my own attitude of selfishness.

    1. So, true, Sheryl! The enemy is always on the prowl to find a way in. We must not let him wreak the havoc he desires on our marriages! Blessings!

  3. It’s so easy to be selfish, isn’t it? More and more the Lord is showing me how each time that I allow selfishness to rise up, that I am allowing my flesh to win and not the Holy Spirit. Daily life must be the act of laying aside my wants and desires for the desires of Christ. When I do that, I find I am much better at approaching my husband in a Godly manner. Great post!

  4. Oh my, did you unmask some stuff here! It’s so easy to think about our needs above our spouse’s needs. I love how you said, “For marriage to be the masterpiece God designed it to be, both partners must be willing to give their all for each other.“ Marriage is not 50/50, it’s give 100% on each side. Great post, Liz! ❤️

    1. Yes, absolutely, Alisa! It is so easy to simply want what we want, tho, isn’t it! I pray the Spirit will guide me toward selflessness in a mighty way! Blessings!

  5. Marriage certainly has a way of exposing those less than stellar parts of ourselves. Thanks for the tips for keeping marriage on track when my selfishness rears its ugly head.

    1. Oh, gosh! Doesn’t it? I love the subtitle of Gary Thomas’ book, Sacred Marriage…”What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More than to Make Us Happy?” I know marriage shines a light on all my less than holy places… and I pray I’d be sensitive enough to the Spirit’s lead to transform them! Blessings!

  6. Marriage certainly has a way of exposing those less than stellar parts of ourselves. Thanks for the tips for keeping marriage on track when my selfishness rears its ugly head.

  7. Messy always comes from selfishness. And I️ know we’re not to say words like always. I️ had to say I’m sorry and seek the Spirit just last night and I’m grateful I️ had a chance to serve him tonight. A great and practical post my friend. Will share.

  8. All three above overflow with wisdom. Selfishness creeps in rather easily, at least it does with me. It’s one I have to watch for and keep leaning on Jesus concerning…and probably need lean a little more if truth be told. Enjoyed your piece, Liz. Visting from #chasingcommunity.

  9. I’m always amazed at how the Spirit can come in and calm my Spirit—reminding me of my husband’s struggles and that it’s not all about me. — Thanks for sharing this series, Liz. (And, Nicole’s stuff on marriage is always so good, isn’t it? 🙂 ) xoxo

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