How To Be Less Selfish In Your Marriage

Prioritizing how to be less selfish in your marriage is crucial to building a strong relationship. You can’t have a healthy long-lasting marriage with an inconsiderate spouse. Once you commit to marriage, it’s time to put aside the ME mentality and instead focus on the WE.

If you or your partner has a tendency for selfish behaviors, keep reading to learn 7 tips on being less selfish in your marriage. I’ll also touch on common signs of selfishness, how it impacts a marriage, plus various ways to overcome it. 

Common Signs You’re Being Selfish In Your Relationship

For many, how do you even know if you’re being selfish? Maybe your spouse has called you out for being selfish, but you thought they were just upset and overreacting. The truth is humans are naturally selfish and especially so prior to being in a committed relationship. 

That all changes after a wedding. Instead of thinking about yourself (the one and only!), you have to shift your mindset to thinking about what’s best for you AND your partner. It’s about compromise, an equal give and takes, to put your family’s needs above yours. A great marriage is truly about being selfless. 

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It’s quite common to ignore the signs of selfish behavior when you’re not fully aware of them. Especially, early on in a new marriage. So, let’s touch on the common signs you’re being selfish in your relationship. 

You Don’t Apologize After An Argument

Arguments and conflict are bound to happen in any relationship. However, apologizing is crucial to making amends and getting back on the same page. Even when it’s not your fault, don’t let an argument take a turn for the worse by not apologizing. Find a way to resolve every disagreement together. 

Lack Of Manners Or Commonly Disrespectful

A simple thing that can be overlooked is a general lack of manners or just being disrespectful. Pay attention to how you treat your friends, wait staff, family members, etc., and always say “please” and “thank you”. 

You Won’t Listen To Them But Expect Them To Listen To You

A healthy relationship always has two sides. If you expect your partner to listen attentively to you but you don’t care to do the same, that’s selfish behavior. This is more about respect than anything else. Have the respect and decency to give what you take. 

Avoiding chores is a common sign that you’re being selfish in a relationship

Avoiding Chores

It’s hard to believe that anyone actually likes doing chores. However, it’s a necessity that we all have to live with. Discuss and share the responsibilities of household chores to avoid one spouse doing more than the other. 

You Think You Are Always Right

It’s ok, in fact, it’s necessary to admit that we are wrong sometimes. As humans, we’re not perfect so it’s unrealistic to always think that you’re right. Admitting your wrong takes courage and vulnerability, but it will strengthen your relationship to do so. 

Dominant All The Time

Being too controlling or dominant of your partner can lead to unnecessary tension, isolation, and loneliness. Take turns and share the responsibility of certain tasks to help balance this. 

You Don’t Appreciate What Your Partner Does

Lacking appreciation for what your partner does is a sure way to cause trouble. Appreciating your partner shows how much you care, love, and respect them. Find small ways to show your appreciation, like surprise tickets to a show or a nice spontaneous dinner, so it doesn’t go unnoticed. 

You Constantly Refuse To Accept Your Own Mistakes

Owning up to your mistakes is an act of maturity. When you accept your mistakes you take responsibility for your actions and find ways to make amends. Mistakes happen but how you choose to respond to them are important. 

Prioritize Yourself Over The Relationship

A committed relationship involves two separate individuals. It’s ok to ask for some space every now and then to prioritize your own needs. However, if you frequently prioritize yourself over your spouse then you’re being selfish. Strong relationships need balance to prioritize each other and your individual needs. One should not take precedence over the other. 

You Threaten To Leave Your Spouse

Marriage is hard, so threatening to leave your spouse when things get difficult is a terribly selfish thing to do. If you need some space to cool off during or after an argument, that’s one thing. However, if you’re fully committed to each other, threatening to leave should never be on the table. 

How Selfishness Impacts Your Marriage

Selfish behaviors in a marriage can be severely damaging. First and foremost, it can lead to a loss of trust, poor expectations, disrespect, and even resentment. An inconsiderate spouse can affect the happiness of the relationship causing additional stress, more intensely heated arguments, constant belittling, and preventing you from growing as a couple. 

So, what can we do to be less selfish? 

How To Be Less Selfish In Your Marriage 

Becoming less selfish in a marriage takes practice! Transitioning from “I” to “WE” is a lesson to be learned within the first few years, so don’t be discouraged. We are all guilty of making selfish decisions at one point or another. Putting in the effort now to listen to and prioritize your partner’s needs is a great place to start. Here are 7 tips on how to overcome selfishness. 

Admit and own the fact that you have been selfish

Remember those common signs of selfishness I outlined above? Well, the first (and hardest) step is to admit to yourself and your partner that you’ve been selfish. If you’re unable to admit it then you’re unwilling to prioritize your relationship above your own needs. 

Asking your partner for their honest opinion, then actively listen to them is one way to be less selfish

Ask your partner for their honest opinion, then actively listen to them

Honest communication is vital in building a strong relationship. Be open to listening to what your partner has to say about your selfish behaviors. Then be willing to set expectations on responsibilities so you’re both putting in equal effort. 

Empathize with your partner and encourage unity

Think about it from your partner’s perspective. Is this how you would want to be treated? Would you feel good if they acted this way? Understanding and empathizing with your partner is a wonderful way to encourage unity. You are a team after all. 

Pause for 10 seconds before responding

Before you start placing blame or criticizing your spouse for something take a pause. This will allow you to properly assess the situation and think about your response, instead of instantly reacting. For example, was it actually your turn to take out the trash but you forgot? Most of the time you can avoid unnecessary arguments with this tip. 

Take the focus off yourself and put it on your relationship

It’s time to start focusing on what makes your partner happy, rather than what makes you happy. The next time you’re faced with a decision, ask yourself what your partner would prefer. 

Be patient and prepare for compromises

Compromising is everything in a relationship. If you chose the restaurant for dinner the last time, let your partner decide the next time. It’s a constant give and take, so be prepared for the unexpected when things don’t go your way. 

Surprise your partner with something nice

Be generous and giving with your partner. Surprise them with flowers or their favorite snack/dessert from the store. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or even bought. You can surprise your significant other with a small love note in their bag that they’ll find when they’re at work. Anything extra to show your love and appreciation. 

Learning how to become selfless in a marriage takes time, patience, and a bit of self-work. You need to be willing to put in the effort and start viewing things from the perspective of your spouse. Instead of “I want, I need” ask yourself “what does my spouse want and need?” If you can begin to question yourself before taking action, you’ll start to prioritize your relationship over your own needs and desires. 

As you focus on becoming less self-centered, be sure to leave your ego at the door. Your partner will appreciate your vulnerability, which will strengthen your intimacy, communication, and bond. Now that you’re aware of the common signs of selfish behavior and how to overcome it, you can start building a supportive and encouraging environment with your partner. 


About the author 


Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

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