The truth is... We were all selfish before marriage.
I always thought that I had been preparing to be a wife by dying to my flesh daily while engaged, but now that I'm actually in this lifelong commitment, I know that I was a long way off. I am still a long way off, even now, and I have a band on my finger!
I have found that during the times where our selfishness rears its head in marriage, we begin feel hindered from being a team. We usually view each other as being on the same team, but once sin enters, we become opponents, protecting and defending ourselves with one goal in mind: To win.
I want to preface all of this by saying one little thing... While we were on the alter, certain selfish sins died in both of our hearts. We don't know what happened, but something supernatural occurred in our lives. Sins we had made light of before marriage, became serious the moment we committed our spirits to God and each other. From the day we said "I do", those very same things we used to enjoy while dating, disgusted us. Though we are both thankful that those specific selfish sins are gone, we do know that we will never be immune to selfishness as a whole.
While my husband can be very selfish sometimes, I find that I'm the one that tends to become selfish more quickly. I'm not proud of it, but it's the reality. Here are some of the effects my selfishness has had on our relationship.
It makes my husband not want to be around me.
It creates resentment between us.
It causes major communication issues.
My spouse and my marriage is not pursued or cared for the way it should be.
It prevents growth and sanctification.
It stunts our ability to trust.
I bought into the lie, multiple times, that if I was selfish for just a few minutes- it was temporary and the consequences wouldn't linger long. Each and every time, I was so wrong.
These consequences lasted for days, sometimes weeks. I want to tell you why selfishness in marriage must change and how my husband and I have begun changing it, but first... let me fill you in on some ways that I've been selfish and maybe you'll find that you can relate...
My Double Standard: I have an Instagram. Ron doesn't. He thinks social media in general is a complete waste of time, but he joked one day and told me he was going to get up to date with the generation. I totally freaked out. Then it became a long, drawn out fight, trying to figure out why I was allowed to be all over the internet and I had a problem with him joining me. He's never given me a reason to worry, but this still seemed to really tick me off. I knew what I saw every day and how many girls avoided clothes in their pictures, and ultimately, it was fear causing me to lash out on him.
Video Games: I have so many hobbies that I like to enjoy, and Ronnie only has a certain few. One of them is video games. The PlayStation 4 didn't make it to our apartment when we first got married but the other day he brought up wanting to finally start playing again. At first I was totally on board and told him it would be fine to bring it over, but once I saw it sitting in our living room- I went totally nuts. I was so nervous that it would mean that I would no longer have his attention on me at all times, so the whole night I was really passive aggressive towards him.
My Expectations: If Ron is great in every other area, but kind of not awesome in ONE, I find myself magnifying that one, instead of praising all of the others. I complain and nag, making him feel like such a failure- when it's really me that's failing to recognize the blessing I have in front of me. For example, he will pray with me, slow dance with me, and send me sweet texts, but if he isn't on BURNING fire for Christ that day- then I can find a weird way to still be annoyed at him.
My Inability To Submit: Ron loves to tithe. He grew up with it and has really studied the importance of giving to our church. For some reason, though I know it's biblical and right, I still cringe at giving so much money to our place of worship. Horrible, I know. But in the end, I still let him do it. When Ron wants to give above what we normally tithe, to help even further, my impure heart starts to shine. I make an argument and try to convince him, with logic, why we shouldn't.
I know these four examples probably make me sound so horrible and evil. To be honest, I am hesitating to even post this blog because of how painfully transparent it is... But if you really take an honest look at your life and relationship with you significant other, I'm sure what I have shared can act like a mirror for you and your spouse.
So... How do we fix this? How do I fix this? What do we do? How do I cure my horrible tendency to just think about me?
After prayer, the only answer we can both come up with is: SURRENDER.
When I heard the word "surrender"in the past, it felt like it would constrict me from living. But in reality, it is absolutely freeing.
When we surrender, we are giving up our desires and putting each and every moment in the hands of our sovereign God. Ya see... I have this need for control because I'm so often paralyzed with worry and anxiety about not being in God's will. I want to be in charge and make everything go my way so that my life can be smooth and happy. I so often forget that God doesn't focus on making us happy. He focuses on making us holy. And His will is very different than ours. And His is always, always better.
I totally understand the concept of surrendering, but I never knew how to live it out in my every day life.
How I've been trying to do so is by understanding the times when I am selfish, taking every emotion captive, and giving it to God. At times, it's a serious battle. I have to tell Ronnie "Hey, right now I'm really struggling with selfishness and you need to give me grace, ok?" He always listens and respects that, leading me back to the cross.
It says in James 4:1 "What causes quarrels and fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?"
HELLO. My specific wants and needs inside of me are making their own demands on my marriage which causes so much discord. And I don't want to live that way anymore.
I don't believe that the battle over self will ever be over, but when we are willing to die to our flesh and carry our cross, we win. Friends, it is possible to win.
Let's keep our focus on the log in our own eye and deal with our hearts even when its tempting to want to point out the speck in someone else's eye instead.