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Your Selfishness as a Spouse Has a Three-Fold Negative Effect

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No reasonable parent would defend a selfish child who is refusing to share any of his toys with his siblings. Similarly, few are the people who would not be bothered by a selfish business owner who was not wanting to share any of the company’s abundant profits with the hardworking employees who made it all possible. In almost any situation, selfishness is not something people will stand for.

Did you notice I said in “almost” any situation?

Because the truth is, selfishness in marriage is something far too many not only allow to pepper their relationship with their spouse, but they actually set out to be the selfish one themselves! When a person disagrees with their spouse and holds to their position until they get most or all of what they want, they are being selfish—there’s no better word to describe it!

But the selfish spouse would be wise to tread carefully. How sad that this person married under the expectation that the two of them would be a team but then choose to fly solo in all decisions, refusing to consider their co-pilot. While it may appear to the selfish spouse that getting their way in all conflicts and indecisions has been providing for them everything they seem to want, they are actually being extremely shortsighted. For there is a three-fold negative effect that their selfishness is actually having in their life. And though these effects may not be as evident now, they will certainly rear their ugly heads in the long-term. 

The effects of our selfishness on our spouse: When we continue to act only in our own interests and not in the interests of our spouse, refusing to propose win-win solutions that satisfy both of our interests, we will hurt, frustrate, and anger our spouse. Maybe you claim your spouse is “easygoing,” and “just wants you to be happy,” and never seems to mind succeeding to your will. But from my experience, I have found that not a few spouses grow to resent and distrust their selfish spouse over time. Everyone has their breaking point. When will your continued selfishness push your spouse past theirs? 

The effects of our selfishness on us: What is remarkable is that the selfish spouse, though they may be “getting their way” all the time, is not even serving their own interests long-term. Because long-term they are producing an unhappy marriage. They end up being more dissatisfied from the constant disharmony and strife within the relationship than they are satisfied with what they seem to gain by getting their way during disagreements. At the beginning of their relationship, they fell in love with and married this person different from them because they loved the team the two of them made. But their selfishness and insistence on always getting their way has destroyed that team, bringing an unhappiness to them that their shortsightedness did not see. 

The effects of our selfishness on God: When we are selfish, we also send the Lord a message about our immaturity. If we cannot delay our gratification, which is a sign of maturity, to achieve win-win solutions with our spouse (which, if we think about it for just a moment, isn't that worth a short delay of gratification anyways?), can He trust us when He calls us to give, for instance, a percentage of our income to His purposes? Painfully, what we are showing to God with our selfishness in marriage is that we will also do toward Him what we do toward our spouse: disagree and make our own way. And if that is what we are showing God what we will do, how likely is it that He will continue revealing to us His call for us in life? What a shame. 

I have found few people genuinely seeking to serve Christ who refuse to find win-win solutions with their spouse. How such a person treats their spouse reveals a great deal about their relationship to Christ. I take the position that those who love and reverence Christ will evidence this by loving and respecting their spouse. And, finding win-win solutions by turning to the Lord for wisdom, as the Bible promises, is not only doable for them, it is comforting and energizing.

Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

Questions to Consider

Think of a way that you have been selfish in your marriage, not seeking a win-win solution. How has it had a long-term negative effect on your spouse? On you? On your relationship with God?