Marriage would be easy if your spouse wasn’t involved. And he or she probably thinks the same thing. In reality, marriage is straightforward, but when you introduce the human dynamic, things always get challenging in a hurry.

Marriage is simple in theory but difficult in application.

The theory of marriage is simple: don’t make it about you. The moment that you make marriage about what you get out of it, you set yourself up for unmet expectations which can easily lead to justifying the absence of your own efforts to meet your spouse’s needs. If you could stop being selfish, your marriage would get a whole lot simpler.

Selfishness blinds me to the needs of my spouse. It causes resentment to build up when my expectations are unmet. I justify what I say and do because my feelings take priority. I elevate my opinions to the status of truth. I can get emotional about our decisions when I prioritize my preferences regarding agendas, careers, finances, families, and hobbies.

The Secret of Marriage

The secret of marriage? Stop being selfish. Do you see why marriage is easy in theory but difficult in application? You married a sinful person and so did your spouse. You married a selfish person and so did your spouse. You married a needy person and so did your spouse.

The epitome of a godly marriage is when two people decide to put the other’s needs ahead of their own. Since both are needy people, the needs must be addressed, but what would happen if they each prioritized meeting the other’s needs rather than their own?

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others (Phil. 2:3-4).

If you could put these verses into application, most of your marital issues would begin to resolve themselves. In fact, selfishness is so dangerous because it can impact the marriage emotionally, physically, sexually, and spiritually. Selfishness can rear its ugly head in every room of the house and dampen every activity within the marriage.

Stop Being Selfish

Every single one of your marital disagreements is because one or both of you are behaving selfishly.

Test that claim. I guarantee you cannot discover one issue that you have that is not exasperated by selfishness. When I see my needs as more important than the needs of my spouse, my marriage cannot thrive. The only way my marriage can improve is if I change my thinking. I must show preferential intentionality to my spouse’s needs. More than just lip service, I must change my way of thinking.

My spouse’s needs must become greater than my needs. I must view my spouse as more important than me. My spouse’s interests must have a greater priority than my personal interests.

Simple in theory. Difficult in application. There are two legitimate set of needs that need to be met everyday. If not handled carefully, both will lose out. But if two needy people who are married decide to make it about the other person every morning, by the end of the day, both parties’ needs have been met, no one has been selfish, and God has been honored in their marriage. I should make my spouse’s needs my concern over all else apparent needs. If my spouse does the same, all needs are covered.

Obviously, you shouldn’t bend to something unbiblical. We also must beware of unrealistic expectations. But both of those scenarios are the irregular scenario. Most of our issues comes because we are simply trying to get our way.

How are you slipping into selfishness within your marriage? What specific needs does your spouse have that you could prioritize over your own?

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.