Last week Elizabeth posted The Worst Marriage Advice (Straight From the Comments) over at Warrior Wives. Apparently, she has a commenter who is saying, “Don’t serve your husband. Don’t respect him. Don’t consider him. Do what you want. Let him take care of himself.” In other words, be selfish.
I’ve had similar comments from men on this blog from time to time. Behind the words what they’re saying is “be selfish”.
My assumption is the husbands and wives who make such comments are in horrible marriages. They feel neglected, unloved, wronged, and so on. Maybe they’re mostly innocent, maybe they’re mostly to blame, but they’re miserable and they’ve decided the best course of action is to be selfish and just take care of themselves.
I get it, I really do, but it’s a strategy guaranteed to make the marriage worse. If both spouses respond to selfishness by becoming more selfish, the marriage goes into a death spiral! The only way to break such a cycle is for one person to make the unilateral decision to be less selfish. Start to give when there’s no reason to give. Be generous when there is no expectation your she will be generous. Give the benefit of the doubt even though your spouse has proven she doesn’t deserve it.
I will admit there are times we must be a bit selfish to protect ourselves. Even when this is valid, the selfishness makes the marriage worse, and it needs to be a short-term thing, not a new way of life.
The bottom line is selfishness is a poison that kills marriages. Both husband and wife have a responsibility to deal with their selfishness, but I think as head the husband is called to lead by example in this.