Have you ever thought that love and hate are two sides of the same coin? I might have at one time, but marriage has taught me a lot about love. Hate is not the opposite of love, selfishness is the opposite of love. And selfishness is killing marriages. It is the root cause of many marriage problems–problems that are ending in divorce. A decade ago the number one cause for divorce was financial problems. Today it is irreconcilable differences. That sounds like selfishness. Our human hearts are naturally bent towards getting what we want, when we want it.
Today’s culture creates an atmosphere of self-focus. Social media, although great sometimes, is often just a way to compare ourselves to others. We see what others have and we think we should have it too: the perfect husband and kids, the clean house, the fulfilling job. But what we see is not reality. Our head may know it’s not reality but the discontent it breeds in our heart eats at us and grows until our unhappy heart demands — get it right now and to heck with the consequences!
Just because we desire something doesn’t necessarily mean that it is good for us. Ultimately, love means not feeding those selfish desires. They are like sugar, as soon as you eat that first bite of a donut you just have to finish the rest. The next thing you know, you and your spouse are growing apart.
Successful couples choose to love each other first and themselves second. They choose to head off selfish marriage problems each and every day and choose to sacrificially and selflessly love one another.
This is a super simple point, but it’s also really important. Some of us don’t even realize we are being selfish when we are. Mark and I have to work on this everyday. Take this time to really consider, “am I being selfish?” so that you can get that root cause of your marriage problems resolved.
Answer the questions below to gauge your own desires.
- Do I want to win more than I want to understand? In an argument, are you more interested in winning or understanding your spouse’s emotions and feelings?
- Are you lecturing more or listening more? Are you thinking about your response more than pondering your spouse’s words?
- Do you maintain physical distance from your spouse except for when you want to be physically intimate?
- Do you spend most of your resources (time, talent, treasure) on your spouse or yourself?
- Would your spouse say you love things and use people, or love people and use things?
- Do you try to influence your spouse to solve problems, or manipulate your spouse to satisfy your own agenda? Are you influencing to your side or focusing on resolution?
- Does your checkbook and your calendar say that your spouse or yourself is most important to you?
If you answered yes to any of these questions don’t beat yourself up. We are all human and all flawed. You’re off to a good start by recognizing that the root of your desires are selfish, and now you can do something about it!
Consider these truths about selfishness:
- When selfishness has a seat at the dinner table, it always demands to be fed first.
- The human heart is naturally bent towards selfishness…it wants what it wants, now.
- Selfishness is a root problem. Most major problems at the root of crumbling marriages, even extramarital affairs, are rooted in the rotten core of selfishness.
- Selfishness is all about getting, but real love is all about giving.
- Selfishness assigns value to a spouse for what they do, but real love grants honor for who a spouse is.
That’s why I believe selfishness is our greatest threat. And it’s living large right under our roof, every day and night.
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