How to Fight Selfishness in Marriage

How to Fight Selfishness in Marriage

Marriage woke me up to a side of myself that had never before been so exposed.

It was there, lurking beneath the surface, working in my life in ways that were hardly visible. But in marriage, the veil ripped away and my selfishness became evident.


How to Fight Selfishness in Marriage

At first, it was the little things. “Let’s go see the movie of my choice,” or asking my husband to stay up late talking when I know he’s exhausted from a long day of work.

But as time went on, it grew.

I wanted my husband to communicate my way, to be intentional in the ways that I desired and in return for these requests, my own heart was complacent.

With each passing day, I was faced with a choice: to acknowledge and fight my selfishness or to turn my face and allow it to work within our marriage.

As hard as it is, we must take the first step. If we don’t, that selfishness will weave cracks into the very foundation of our marriages. And it will threaten the health and well-being of the sacred covenant we committed to.

So how do we deal with this invisible and yet achingly real threat to our marriages?

Acknowledge It

As we so often hear, the first step to any problem is admitting that there is a problem.

It can be so hard to step over our pride and admit to our shortcomings. But it is an essential part to fighting the threats in our marriages and in our lives.

How do you acknowledge the selfishness in your marriage when it has become so natural and so hidden in the everyday?

First, we must be willing to admit that it is there, whether or not we immediately see it’s working. When you do this, your eyes will be readjusted and you will begin to see everything in a different light.

Ask God to reveal to you any selfishness that hides within your marriage. Ask Him to show you where you can seek to follow His call more closely.

And most importantly, ask Him to help you set aside your pride in the process.

That was the hardest thing for me.

Our pride blinds us to the very things that cause our pain.

[bctt tweet="Our pride blinds us to the very things that cause our pain." username="NicoleAKauffman"]

Don’t allow Satan to have a foothold on your heart and in your marriage.

Acknowledge the selfishness in your marriage and you will see your heart and your marriage begin to transform.

Seek the Holy Spirit

The only one who can transform our hearts is the Holy Spirit within us. When faced with such an overwhelming transformation, it can be hard to believe that change is possible.

After all, we’ve lived this way for years. How can I suddenly expect my heart to change?

Don’t get discouraged as your eyes are opened to selfishness. We all face it in our lives and in our marriages.

We all must wait for the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts.

So, seek Him. Seek God’s will and His heart for you in marriage.

Spend time every day in prayer, asking for the Holy Spirit to transform your heart.

I began spending ten minutes every morning praying for my marriage and for my husband. As I did this, it became evident how essential it was for me to start praying for my own heart in my marriage.

I wanted transformation. I wanted deeper connection. I wanted greater intimacy.

And I thought that if I prayed for my husband to change that I would see those things grow in my marriage.

But it wasn’t until I began to pray for my own heart and my own transformation that those very things took root in my marriage and grew.

The Holy Spirit is guiding us to transformation, deeper connection and greater intimacy. Ask Him to work in your heart and you will see these things grow in your marriage.

Finally, Act

As much as I want those ten minutes of prayer to transform me, it isn’t enough. When we pray, we must then boldly act.

As I prayed for my selfishness to be exposed and my heart to transform, I suddenly saw more opportunities to serve my husband.

I noticed how tired he was after work and offered to go to bed early with him. I saw how willing he was to watch the movie of my choice and I instead insisted we watch his.

All of these opportunities, although seemingly small, began to appear throughout the day. And as the Holy Spirit began working in my heart, I felt called to act and to serve.

The greatest weapon against selfishness is service.

[bctt tweet="The greatest weapon against selfishness is service." username="NicoleAKauffman"]

I encourage you to look for opportunities to serve your spouse this week. Ask them what you can do to help them out. Offer to do the things that you know they like.

As we seek to serve our spouses, we will smother the selfishness out of our marriages.

And in doing so, we will bring the power of God into the very foundation of our marriage.



  1. Acting on love and putting your spouse’s needs above your own is a daily challenge for me. Easier said than done, especially when you have a husband like I do. He constantly looks for ways to be a blessing to me and his children. Thanks for sharing on the #LMMLinkup this week.

  2. Everyone told me that getting married would make you realize how selfish you were, but it didn’t really happen until we were two years in. Oh goodness! Thanks for your honest thoughts on this!

  3. Yes, yes, yes, YES! You hit a sore spot with me today…but I am thankful. You are helping me bring my selfishness to light, as much as I don’t want to admit that. πŸ™ I have been becoming more and more aware of my selfishness, but satan likes to take it and turn it around-showing me that my HUSBAND is the selfish one. Well, that may be correct, but how will that change? Just as you mentioned. Pray, the Holy Spirit, and intentional boldness on my end. I KNOW this works, as it has in the past. I’m just weak right now and need God’s help. Thank you for this validation! (Visiting from #livefreeThursday) Bless you!

  4. Nicole, there is lots of encouragement here for the wife in need of wise counsel. I am so glad you linked up for #ThoughtProvokingThursday. Looking forward to reading more from you in the week’s ahead.


  5. What a beautiful, soft heart you have, Nicole. I love the insight you share with this quote: “The greatest weapon against selfishness is service.” I wrote it down when I read it, so I could tweet it, and then noticed you have it as a tweetable quote. yay. πŸ™‚ Love you heart for marriage, thank you for sharing it with #ChasingCommunity. ((hug))

  6. Great advice Nicole! Even after almost 30 years of marriage I have to fight the tendency to be selfish. I find it’s one of those things that creeps right back in if I’m not diligent about it. Thanks for the reminder today.

  7. Hi Nicole: I’m new to your blog. I’m stopping over from the messy marriage linkup! I just knew that I would be clicking on your post because I want to combat selfishness in my marriage. I recently prayed for God to move in my marriage, and then a day or two later I stumbled upon our challenge. Just what Dr. Jesus ordered! I signed up! πŸ™‚

    Blessings to you,

  8. Great words, Nicole! Yes, selfishness and marriage cannot coexist. In many ways, selfishness is the root cause of the majority of marital strife. But marriage in God’s eyes is used to purge our nasty habit of looking to ourselves first by showing us the meaning of sacrifice towards our spouse which should then exude into other relationships. Again great post– I signed up for your challenge and look forward to hearing more of what you have to say. πŸ™‚

  9. Great word! I love your vulnerability! I write that way as well. God’s been dealing with me on these same things. My daily prayer is break my heart for what breaks yours God. It has brought about so much heart transformation for me. Keep writing!

    1. What a wonderful prayer, Joanna. God works wonders when we offer our hearts to Him in that way! Thank you!

  10. My favorite is the quote…. “The greatest weapon against selfishness is service”. You hit it right on the nose. Serving kills our selfish tendencies and draws us nearer to God. Great article.

  11. Congratulations on your challenge and course, Nicole! Praise God for how He is using the changes in you after yielding to Him. Overcoming selfishness is so important in marriage. Thank you for writing about this. Praying for your ministry.

  12. Selfishness is the major problems in marriage and any relationship. I used to think God should “fix” my husband and make him adapt to me and my ways. Each time I talked to God about it, He showed me I was the one who need to make changes in my heart and perspectives.
    Thanks for another reminder for me to re-evaluate and make sure I am not being selfish in my marriage.
    Have a super blessed day Nicole!

    1. Thanks! And yes, it can be so hard to see the changes we need to make when we are so focused on how we want our husbands to change! Thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

  13. I think my favorite part of this post is when you say that ten minutes of prayer isn’t enough. You’re right; we always need to change our own lives in accordance to God’s will.

  14. When my husband and I were first newlyweds, we were also pretty selfish…it took some time to step back and reflect back on putting the other ones needs first. Your post is such a great reminder to self reflect and put the other first.

    1. Thanks, Kaycee. It definitely takes an active effort to make this change! But the result is so worth every bit!

  15. When you talked about noticing how tired your husband was after work and changing what you wanted to do to make him feel better- it made me think about when I finally understood that my husband and I are differently designed and made, with different reactions and needs according to how God programmed us. I couldn’t expect him to respond like I would respond – because we aren’t the same – and it helped me to live more unselfishly by understanding our differences and how to take care of each other with those differences. It makes love and marriage a much more beautiful thing! Thank you for sharing. I wish I’d had some of these ideas about 30 years ago:) Shalom!

    1. I definitely agree! I have to often stop myself and consider how my husband is different and how to serve him accordingly! It takes practice, but it that little change is so powerful!

  16. It’s a standing joke that when I am most frustrated with my husband I iron his shirts – the initial reason was a desire to feel that I was better than him, but as I ironed (and told God how annoyed I was) I found myself remembering that I loved him. It is my way of reconnecting, of caring for him in a small way and letting things get back into perspective. Reading this challenges me to keep finding ways of smoothering the selfishness! Thanks

    1. It is so hard to acknowledge those things that Satan likes to keep us distracted from! But when we do, there is so much healing, transformation and power! Thanks, Sarah!

  17. I think we go into marriage with the sense of our own fulfilment but we soon find out God has other plans…’the greatest weapon against selfishness is service’ – so true! It’s also completely counter-culture.

    1. It definitely is so counter-culture, but God calls us to it all the same! That’s why it’s so important to be in community with those who can point us to lives in Christ! Thanks so much for stopping by, Carol!

  18. I’m so thrilled to read this. Beating selfishness in my marriage is something that I am always trying to fight against. I am convinced that selfishness is a large participant or cause of divorce (not the only one though). Thanks for addressing it in this post. Its a message that really does need to be discussed more.

  19. Great post! This Friday, 3/17 (also Saint Patrick’s Day) will be my 27th wedding anniversary. I’ve been with my hubby, Scott for 30 years in total. I tell you this only to say, I believe I’d recognize a good post on marriage πŸ™‚
    I especially like, “The greatest weapon against selfishness is service.” So true!

    Blessings on you and your marriage as you encourage others!
    Beckie from Spotlight:
    P.S. I found your blog on #LMMLinkup.

  20. I’ve been realizing my selfishness lately, thank you for showing me hope through prayer! I hope and pray I can serve my husband by the power of the Holy Spirit.

  21. Great insights! It can be so easy to be selfish in relationships and such a difficult dying to self so that we can better serve our spouses.

  22. This post speaks so dearly to my heart, Nicole. God exposed the hidden pride in me through my marriage. I often prayed for my husband’s heart to change, when really I needed to change as well. Great information on ways to remove the selfishness! Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. God does amazing work in our own hearts when we pray. Great to hear how much he transformed you, Mandy!

  23. Acknowledge, Seek, and Act- Important truths for a selfless marriage.

    Thank you for your great post, Nicole

    Diana @

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