What is the opposite of Love? If you said Hate, well, I hate to disagree with you, but I’m convinced that the opposite of love is really selfishness. And in marriage, selfishness often makes you the worst threat to your marriage.
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.
Through the years, Susan and I have found that many things we fight about in our marriage are rooted in selfishness. In our quest for love, selfishness is an issue that won’t go away.
Ultimately, love means not feeding selfish desires first; it means choosing to starve our selfish desires each and every day, and choosing instead to fulfill the needs of our spouse.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to see if selfishness is at the root of some of your marital challenges:
Do I ask for my spouse’s help more than I offer myself to help them?
Do I maintain physical distance from my spouse, except for when I want to be close or intimate?
Do I spend most of my resources on my spouse, or myself?
Do I base praise and criticism of my spouse on what they do for me?
Would my spouse say that I use people and love things, or love people and use things?
Do I try to influence my spouse to solve problems, or manipulate my spouse to satisfy my agenda?
Does my checkbook and my calendar say that my spouse, or myself, is most important to me?
If you see yourself answering “Yes” to any of these questions, realize that 1) you’re human, 2) your natural bent is towards selfishness, 2) you’re in better shape for seeing your selfish struggles, and 3) you need to keep learning to love your spouse well.
Here are some steps you can take:
- Ask some key questions of your spouse to help evaluate your relationship.
- Talk with your spouse about your commitment to make war on your selfish tendencies, and give them permission to point out when your selfishness hurts them.
- Consider how you become a better listener to your spouse. Selfishness often shows up in the inability or unwillingness to hear the other person.
- Work on filling your spouse’s heart with good things. I have suggestions here for wives and for husbands.
What other ways do you see selfishness tearing apart marriages? What helps turn a selfish heart around? Share your comments below.