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Fighting Selfish Desires in Marriage

The character Veruca Salt was immortalized for her selfish attitude in the original “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory” movie when she yelled, “I want it NOW!” (And by the way, “Veruca” means “wart”). From the seagulls in “Finding Nemo” to children in preschool, the word “mine” reveals selfish behavior.

Let’s face it, through the course of time starting with Adam and Eve to your marriage and ours, selfishness undermines every good thing that God intends for us to experience. It’s tough because often we DO want our way. We want to be sure we’re taken care of, pampered, protected, indulged, favored, empowered, honored, respected. We often think our way IS best, so why give in?

In his first letter to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul writes that “love…does not insist on it’s own way” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Resist the urge to show that verse to your spouse 🙂 and instead ask the question, “How do I fight my selfish urges and become non-insistent with my spouse?”

Here are three ideas to put into practice this week:

1. Appreciate the Benefits

When we choose to yield to our spouse, our marriage benefits. For example:

  • We are showing our spouse that our love is unconditional. We aren’t yielding to their way only when we feel like it, or when it benefits us. We are practicing putting them first because our love for them comes first.
  • We are tearing down walls that selfishness constructs. We communicate that the relationship is about “we” not “me.”
  • We protect our marriage from resentment being established in our spouse’s heart.
  • We cultivate an expectation in our spouse that assumes the best of our intentions. They are reassured that they can trust our heart.

2. Follow the Example

In another letter, Paul wrote, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). The pattern he gives for us to follow is Jesus’ example.

When you consider His selfless sacrifice on the cross for you, it removes any ground for selfishness in your marriage. Say a simple, bold prayer: “God, show me how I can remove selfishness from my attitude and actions toward my spouse.” Then follow through with what is impressed on your heart.

3. Cultivate “Spouse Eyes”

What does the world look like through your spouse’s eyes? What are their needs? Dreams? Fears? In points of disagreement, work hard to understand their perspective. In doing so, you’ll find that your need to control the outcome dissipates and your willingness to lovingly yield will increase.

What if your spouse’s “way” doesn’t end well? The car they wanted is a lemon. The restaurant they chose was a massive fail. The investment they lobbied for lost money. Then what?

Then you give it to God and have self-control. It’s not to be leveraged as a teaching moment, an “I told you so,” or an opportunity to pout. You say nothing, show grace, and love your spouse just as Jesus loves you when you fail.

What are some ideas for how couples can yield to their spouse? List them in the comments below! See what happens in your heart as you choose to yield your way as you build your marriage!