NOT Selfish: Love Marker #5

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Are you selfish in your marriage? Are you selfish in the Church? Do you think needs and desires matter most? If you and I are honest, we’ll admit to selfishness. Awfully humbling, isn’t it? The following list of 7 signs of a selfish spouse will direct you toward the unselfish life God desires.

Based on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, these love markers describe true love in the Church and also between spouses. Read “Patience: Love Marker 1” and “Kindness: Love Marker 2” and NOT Jealous: Love Marker 3 and NOT Proud: Love Marker 4.

Do you want to grow in your marriage? Enjoy these blog posts by guest author Pastor Matthew Black of Living Hope Church in suburban Chicago. Pastor Matt kindly let us excerpt sections of a chapter in his forthcoming book The Marriage Enrichment Book. –Ed.

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7 Signs of a Selfish Spouse

This list is adapted from an article by Preeti Tewari.

Healthy, happy marriages are based on caring, cooperation, and commitment. Your spouse and relationship must be a top priority as you serve the Lord. Selfishness — or being overly concerned with your needs, wants, and feelings — prevents you from honoring the Lord and enjoying the Lord’s blessing on your marriage.

Many people don’t recognize when they’re being selfish because they operate inside a bubble of me-first thoughts and beliefs. Putting yourself first becomes a habit. In your marriage, it creates hurt and resentment.

Recognizing your selfish side is the first step. Then repent and seek change. You might begin this this prayer:

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139-23-24).

Here are seven signs that you may be a selfish spouse.

#1 You’re Too Lazy to Serve Your Spouse.

Are you usually excited to do something you enjoy? But if it’s something your spouse wants, do you get bored or easily restless and try to squirm out of it?

Perhaps you like romance but you don’t like dishes. Perhaps you are willing to help make dinner but not help put the children to bed. Godly, married couples should help each other. To weasel out of this is laziness.

Wise Solomon said, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox” (Prov 14:4). You can avoid the mess by being lazy and have an easy life, but you will also miss the benefits. Marriage is no place for laziness.

#2 You Believe Your Position Is Superior.

You may have a great job or get a big paycheck, but that doesn’t mean you should get preferential treatment in the relationship. If you truly believe that you’re more important and your opinions matter more, you’re being conceited.

Far more important than money or position is how you use your position or stewardship for God’s glory. Both husband and wife should see their roles as ordained by God and equally valuable. All that we have is a gift from God (1 Corinthians 4:6-7), so if you think you are more important than your spouse, you have a selfish mindset.

#3 You Want Things Your Way.

Do you almost always like doing things your way even if your spouse wants to do something different? If your spouse gets their way, do you sulk or pout? If your spouse gives in to your bidding, do you cheer up instantly and cozy up with your spouse.

Your spouse may feel good at that moment when you display your affection to them, but the truth is, you are acting more like a spoiled child than a maturing Christian.

If selfishness is the core motive of your heart, you are willing to sin in order to get your way. You may be rude, or call your spouse out in front of the children or friends. Regardless, it is wrong. If you are willing to sin to get your way, you are proud.

God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 5:5).

#4 Your Ego Controls You.

You may believe that losing an argument is a sign of weakness. You may use unhealthy communication like raising your voice or putting your spouse down. The truth is you don’t like being a good listener. As a result, you may sulk or punish your spouse in numerous ways by blowing up or clamming up. Mischaracterization and twisting of words are a good sign that you are a selfish person. Nothing good ever came from having an ego.

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice (James 3:9).

#5 You Don’t Ask for Forgiveness.

Do you get a hard lump in your throat each time you have to ask forgiveness to your spouse? You may say you’re sorry very often for trivial things, but when it’s something that really matters, do you hold yourself back or defend yourself even though you know you’re on the wrong? This is a sure sign of pride and selfishness.

On the other hand, do you get angry or upset if your spouse doesn’t ask for forgiveness for a sin they committed? You may not think much of this behavior of yours, but your spouse would definitely think you’re selfish and conceited. As a growing Christian you be willing to admit when you are wrong.

Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another (Jas 5:16).

#6 You Use Emotional Manipulation.

Emotional manipulation is always a selfish low-blow. Do you withhold sex or give the silent treatment when your spouse doesn’t do something your way?

Hurting the one you love by manipulating them is a selfish way of winning arguments. Holding grudges is a sure sign of selfishness too.

All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ (Eph 4:31-32, HSCB).

#7 Constructive Criticism Is an Attack to You.

Are you defensive when your spouse tries to give you constructive criticism? Do you often interrupt corrections by erupting in defense? Do you have trouble sharing constructive criticism with a loving, caring tone? Have you given up trying to give constructive criticism?

Consider some of these symptoms of the thin-skinned spouse that stop healthy communication in marriage:

  • Denial of responsibility
  • Stonewalling silence and retreat
  • Angry outbursts
  • Defensiveness and overreaction
  • Blame-shifting
  • Accusatory responses
  • Partial acceptance
  • Taking things personally
  • Distorting the message

If you exhibit any of these signs, you are likely making emotional and relational growth next-to-impossible in your marriage. If you often have difficulty with listening to correction, there are some major areas of selfishness in your life. “Whoever loves correction loves learning, but he who hates constructive criticism is foolish” (Prov 12:1).

In summary, marriage is no place for selfishness, but is instead like a great chamber orchestra: in order to be in harmony, spouses must selflessly follow the director of the orchestra. For the Christian, that Director and Master is Jesus.

As you and your spouse get your eyes off yourself and look to Him, your marriage will be harmonious and unified.

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