5 Ways to be Less Selfish in Marriage

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. - Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)


Six years ago, when my husband and I were first married, I began working at a hair salon with some of the meanest women I had ever met. They regularly insulted me and tore me down, but at the time, I didn't really mind. Since they were my co-workers, I put on my rose-colored glasses and gave them the benefit of the doubt. Plus, I was used to being teased. I had been bullied in both high school and college, so being bullied by these women was nothing out of the ordinary for me.


That year on my birthday, my husband got me a charm. It was a tiny, silver, Ace card that had a little heart on it. I thought it was super cute and was excited to wear it out the next day.

The card charm

When I got to work, the ladies did not appreciate the little card charm as much as I did. Instead, they insulted it and my husband. They said things like, "I don't get it, why would your husband get you that thing?" and, "He tried, I guess." I sat there silently. My rose colored glasses were ripped off. I didn't mind them bullying me, but bullying my husband was crossing a line. However, in spite of my anger, I said absolutely nothing. I even laughed it off. To this day, It is one of my biggest regrets. I wish I had stated to them that I loved the charm, that my husband was thoughtful, wonderful, and a great gift-giver. Rather, I permitted these women to insult my husband out of fear of not fitting in. On top of that, I allowed what they said to affect me in a negative way. I became embarrassed of the little charm and rarely wore it after that. It was a really selfish and misguided thing for me to do.


After that, that job became dreadful for me. I stuck it out for another month as I looked for new work.


The charm my husband gave me is now one of my favorite pieces of jewelry. It signifies to me that I have a devotion to my husband, that I need to be less selfish in marriage, and that my husband is someone worth fighting for.


My husband and I have been married now for almost six years. It has definitely been a growing experience for the both of us. It hasn't always been easy. Sometimes, it has been downright hard. But as I learn how to navigate through marriage, I have grasped a few ways to be a more thoughtful, less selfish, and more caring wife.


  • Learn to listen

There is a stereotype that says men are the ones who don't know how to listen. But from my own experience, I have found that to be the opposite. My husband, who is softer spoken than I, often sits there patiently and listens to me as I selfishly prattle on and on and on about my life. Sometimes, I am so passionate or enthralled in my own stories that I don't even think to ask my husband how his day went. This has caused communication problems in our marriage, and has even made my husband feel unloved on many occasions. I have found that taking a just few moments to listen to my hubby speaks volumes about my care for him.


  • Learn his personality type

One day, I was a little bored and decided to take a personality test called the Enneagram. I asked my husband to take the test as well. (I'll spare you the results of my test and focus on my husband.) That personality test gave me so much information about my husband that I never realized before. The test said that he was a "Giver," meaning that loves to give gifts. What I didn't know is that he becomes elated for days when the receiver loves the gifts he gives them. If the receiver doesn't like the gifts however, my husband has a tendency to fall into a depression.


Gift-giving is something God literally formed into my husband's makeup. It's his personality! Since then, I learned that all I need to do is be a cheerful receiver, and my husband's love-meter is filled.


  • Stick up for your man

When those ladies at the salon were sitting there insulting my husband, I should have shut that down very quickly. When I say, "Shut it down," I don't mean violently. I mean that I should have told those women that I loved the charm, that it had meaning to me, (because it did. My husband and I used to play rummy all the time) and that I thought my husband was sweet for giving it to me. I should have stood by him, rather than giving into peer pressure and allowing other people to talk poorly about him.


  • Memorize Scriptures about love, patience, and forgiveness.

This step is probably one of the hardest for me to swallow. When my husband and I are not on good terms, the last thing I want to do is to recall Scripture that tells me to forgive and be loving. I would much rather stay angry, justify my actions, or fight. But I have learned the hard way that nothing is accomplished when I do that. Much, much better results come from forgiveness and love. It's almost like the Bible knows what it's talking about.


One of my favorite Scriptures I use when my husband ticks me off is this one: Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. - Colossians 3:13 (NLT)


Here are three more verses that might interest you:


Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. - Ephesians 4:31-32


The heart of her husband trusts in her,

and he will have no lack of gain.

She does him good, and not harm,

all the days of her life. - Proverbs 31:11-12


Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. - Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)


  • Learn to wait

I'll admit right now that I'm still working on this step, and I usually don't get it right. Sometimes, silence is the best way to handle an irritating situation. (And when I say silence, I don't mean passive-aggressiveness or the cold shoulder.) When my perfect husband does something irritating, I am learning that I need to wait. I need to wait for a good moment to talk about it with him. This does two things:

  1. It cools my frustration and anger. In fact, I sometimes find out that it was nothing to be angry about in the first place.

  2. It makes him more open to conversation. When my husband is in a good mood, he is much more likely to listen respectfully and take in what I have to say.


Above all, I need to remember that God gave me the husband I have. It is important to pray for him, to thank God for him, and to take steps to becoming a better wife to him. After all, my husband is mine, and he really is worth fighting for.


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