What characteristic dominates your marriage: selfishness or love? It’s no secret that selfishness is a buzzkill in any relationship, but especially in marriage.

Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley share practical tips to help combat selfishness in your marriage.

According to Erin, the first thing we have to realize is that our spouse isn’t the only one who can be selfish at times.

“The key is to recognize that we are all capable of being selfish at times. We are human beings. We have a sin nature, and for some reason, especially in marriage, there is this capacity to have it displayed or to experience the feeling of selfishness. As you recognize your spouse’s selfishness, realize that you’re equally capable of being selfish.”

It’s easy to judge our spouse for being selfish, until we realize that we are selfish as well. Greg explains,

“As we’re thinking about this whole idea of selfishness, I think it’s so easy for me to think about Erin first. I review what she has or hasn’t done, but really this is about me evaluating me. Even if we’re in the middle of a really tough season, it’s important for me to ask God to show me how I’m being selfish. Maybe I’ve ignored Erin’s feelings or her interests and I’ve insisted on things being my own way.”

It’s important for couples to honestly assess if each spouse is having his or her needs met equally.

“Does our marriage skew to my side or your side? Do you feel things are pretty balanced? She said she felt things were pretty even for the most part, but she said she felt like things leaned more towards me in the evenings. I think that’s a way selfishness can rear up.”

Even when it’s not intentional, Greg says it’s easy for one marriage partner to have their needs and wants met at the expense of the other spouses needs and wants. Today, take steps to actively love your spouse by taking steps to be unselfish expecting nothing in return.


Dr. Greg Smalley serves as executive director of Marriage and Family Formation at Focus on the Family.  In this role, he develops and oversees initiatives that prepare individuals for marriage, strengthen and nurture existing marriages and help couples in marital crises. He also serves as a media spokesperson on these matters.

Erin Smalley earned a bachelor degree in nursing at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona.  She worked as a labor and delivery nurse for 8 years prior to going back to school for a masters degree in clinical psychology at Evangel University in Springfield, MO.

Key Scripture: Romans 8:6; 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Featured Songs: Open the Clouds – Unspoken; Joy – Johnny Diaz; Show em What You’re Worth – Mandisa

Fighting selfishness in marriage

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