The Greatest Enemy of Every Marriage

opposite of love

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 [Tweet this].
  • 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:

What other ways do you see selfishness tearing apart marriages? What helps turn a selfish heart around?  Share your comments below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Single Dad

    Agree 1000%, couldn’t have been said any better or clearer. Been there, experienced that.

  • Rolando Gómez

    It seem to me that the only true way to a live of selflessness life and the most effective way to a daily combat against this natural tendency of ours is a Christ-centered live. In my experience most of the self-centered people I know (and I used to be one of them/us) do not know Christ. By say this I am not saying that those of us who know Him are totally free of this natural tendency, what I am saying is that with Christ on our side, as a Friend and Guide, as Light and Lord of our lives, this enemy of ours has no room for survival.

  • thanks for your encouragement

  • Good point. Thanks for sharing, Rolando.

  • madeleine

    the worst thing a wife can do is accuse her husband of selfishness—–the best action is to pray for her husband—constantly and let God take over!!

  • James Kunkel

    Great observations Mark. The information in this article should be part of pre-marriage counseling for all couples. If you don’t stay constantly aware of how selfishness is impacting your marriage, your relationship will drift into some rocky shores. The only tool I’ve found to defeat selfishness is regular prayer.