What’s wrecking our marriages? I find these 2 traits in varying quantities in nearly every couple that enters my office! They usually come as a package and when both parties have an extreme case of both, the marriage is pretty much doomed unless they see it and change it – fast!
Two things wrecking our marriages today are Self-Centeredness and Pride.
Self-centeredness is putting ourselves before our partner. We subscribe to WIIFM – what’s in it for me? We look at what we can get vs. what we can give! We are dependent lovers – giving only when we are getting something in return. In the beginning, when it is easy, we gave freely, but when the love flows less freely, we withdraw our love and pout because we’re not ‘feeling the love’.
Self-centeredness focuses on our needs, our wants, our dreams, our feelings, what we want to say, our expectations, our way of doing things, etc., instead of changing our thinking to include the person we vowed to love for eternity. Even those who give, give, give in the marriage and have the appearance of being selfless, are usually very subtly self-centered because they expect love, praise, appreciation, etc. in return! Shame is extremely self-centered because it causes us to constantly look at our self-image. Victim thinking is self-centered, too, focusing on every way that we were slighted. And if you think this might be present in your relationship, look out! It’s surely plaguing every relationship you have!
Doesn’t look so lovely, does it? Now look at its nasty sidekick – pride. I’ll define pride as needing to look good or be superior at all times.
Pride causes a battle of wills – to be right or to “win”. Pride demands the last word. Pride is a hot desire to paint ourselves as good and refuses any suggestion we might need improvement. Yet, pride judges others, usually harshly. Pride forces us to defend ourselves at all costs, even when we are wrong. Pride won’t apologize. Pride needs to control what’s going on around them.
Pride won’t allow us to ask for our needs to be met for fear of rejection. Pride assumes other people’s thoughts and emotions and determines reactions based upon them. Pride holds grudges. Pride lashes out. Pride keeps score and demands fairness. Pride retaliates to even the score. Pride won’t allow anyone else to look better than us. Pride demands an attentive audience. Pride keeps secrets and lies (tries to control what the other person will think or feel by withholding information, secrets also maintain our good self-image). Pride convinces us we “deserve” things. Pride is content to blame others to keep from looking bad. No one wants to admit to these hideous traits, yet if we are honest, we’ve all got it to some degree!
The worst part about both of these cancerous infestations is that they will not allow us to see them in ourselves! Others may try to point them out, but we are blind to it! But if we don’t look, we don’t see that they crowd out love and humility – necessary components for wonderful, fulfilling relationships! Having self-centeredness and pride does not mean we are bad people. They are not all bad – we need some of each to be healthy, but it is human nature for them to take on a life of its own if we don’t keep it in check!
If you examine these two areas of your life and catch even a glimpse of yourself, you need to dig deep! I promise it will not kill you! Selflessly giving to others is the path to finding the greatest pleasures on this planet! And learning to set your pride aside not only allows you the freedom and self-satisfaction of being the best person you can be, but it also makes you more lovable to those around you! I challenge you to hand this article to your loved ones (even your older children) and ask them to point out any areas they see that apply to you. Are you mature enough to handle the truth? Can you hear it without attacking them for speaking the truth? It may hurt in the short term, but it will hurt way less than what’s coming down the pike if you choose to live in denial!