Recently I posted a quote on my personal social media from Pastor Jimmy Evans about marriage and I was surprised at the enormous amount of response and shares it received. He said, “Marriage is brutal on selfish people, and insisting that you get to do your own thing—rather than sharing interests with your spouse—is selfish behavior. Marriage is not about independence, but interdependence. If you want to be independent, stay single.” It seems like selfishness is an overwhelming force in marriage and the pain that many married couples feel. Webster’s Dictionary defines selfishness as “concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others”. Selfish behavior is destructive to any type of relationship, especially marriage. Why is selfishness so destructive to marriage? The definition that Webster gives us can offer some clear insight to that.
It Is Excessive
Selfishness avoids moderation and creates an excessive amount of focus on a specific person or need. When we speak in terms of something being excessive we rarely think of it in terms of being positive. We talk about excessive force or excessive talking or some other negative connotation. Selfishness is an excessive focus on oneself which means that something suffers. In marriage, it is our relationship that bears the weight of excessive focus on yourself.
It Is Exclusive
Selfishness causes exclusivity. When we are exclusive, we keep others out that very well may have value to add. Exclusivity pushes others away by making them feel inferior and unwelcome. This is toxic in a marriage. Though the marriage relationship should be exclusive in some ways, selfishness creates a personal exclusivity that pushes our spouse away and often has the same effects of inferiority on them. Marriage is about becoming one, not being the one.
It Concentrates On Personal Advantage
I have heard it said that some people are more interested in making a point than making a difference. That is a destructive trait to have in relationships. When our goal is to always have the advantage, win the argument or get our way, we undermine the continuity of marriage and make us the “only” one instead of the two becoming one. The goal should be to create an advantage for the relationship even if that eliminates personal advantage.
It Concentrates On Personal Pleasure
We all want to experience pleasure, but when our personal pleasure becomes the focus of our life, we make it difficult for others to experience pleasure in the context of relationship with us. Our desires and wishes are important but they cannot be the only consideration, especially where marriage is concerned. The sole pursuit of pleasure can be unhealthy at times from a personal standpoint but offers even more obstacles in achieving a healthy relationship.
It Is Oblivious To The Well-Being Of Others
It is clear that selfishness puts too much emphasis on oneself, but it also leads to being oblivious to the well-being and needs of others. When we are so consumed with our own welfare and the constant attention that it takes, we ignore the needs of those around us. Becoming one in a marital relationship requires us to be aware of and work to meet the needs of our spouse. One of the greatest ways to grow personally is to be aware of the needs of those around us. It is also one of the critical roles for us in a marriage relationship.
Selfishness, if not dealt with, will breed bitterness and poor attitudes, and in marriage, will often lead to divorce. Selfishness is not something someone else can conquer for us. It requires awareness of our shortcomings and faults in this area and intentional effort to overcome it. Selfishness is not something that is normally changed quickly, but over time with a constant examining of personal attitudes and behaviors and a willingness to allow others to speak into our life, it can be overcome. Selfishness, if left unchecked, will bring destruction. Overcoming selfishness will be one of the most rewarding victories of your life and your marriage will benefit greatly.