Navigating Selfishness in Marriage: Warding Off Divorce

Navigating Selfishness in Marriage: Warding Off Divorce

Navigating Selfishness in Marriage: Warding Off Divorce

In the intricate tapestry of marriage, couples often encounter challenges that test the strength of their bond, even leading to divorce. One such hurdle is dealing with a selfish spouse. It’s important to remember that selfishness, although frustrating, is a human trait that can be addressed with empathy, patience, and understanding. In this blog post, we explore effective ways to deal with a selfish spouse and nurture a healthier, more fulfilling relationship in an effort to avoid divorce.

The American Psychological Association (APA) dictionary, defines “selfishness” as: “the tendency to act excessively or solely in a manner that benefits oneself, even if others are disadvantaged.”

A spouse may demonstrate selfish behavior in the following ways:

  1. Having no regard for how their behavior impacts their spouse;
  2. Consistently acting in their own self-interests instead of meeting the needs of the marriage;
  3. Showing no remorse when they’ve hurt their spouse;
  4. Using manipulation tactics to get what they want;
  5. Always asking for favors but never repaying them;
  6. Being unkind, or their kindness comes with a price;
  7. Using their spouse to get what they want;
  8. Not giving back to their spouse;
  9. Feeling entitled to always getting what they want, even if it means that the spouse will be negatively impacted.

Remember that how you deal with a selfish person will impact you and the relationship based on the approach. It’s important to begin with acceptance. Accept that the self-centered spouse might never consider your needs first. As much as your spouse means to you, know that they have no regard for others’ feelings or welfare. They can have moments of generosity and charm, but for the most part, they simply lack the skill or willingness to be thoughtful and considerate. This knowledge will give you a clear understanding of the dynamic and help you cope with the selfish behavior.

Once you’ve accepted the reality of your spouse’s selfishness, keep a few suggestions in mind as you navigate the marriage to a selfish spouse.

  • Communication is Key:

Open, honest, and non-confrontational communication is the foundation of any strong relationship. Express your feelings calmly and assertively, using “I” statements to avoid blame. Encourage your spouse to share their perspective too, fostering a safe space for both of you to be heard.

  • Cultivate Empathy:

Try to understand your spouse’s perspective and motivations. Empathy bridges the gap between differences and can help you see situations from their point of view. When you truly grasp their feelings and concerns, it becomes easier to find common ground.

  • Set Boundaries:

Healthy boundaries are vital in any relationship. Discuss and agree upon boundaries that respect both partners’ needs and emotions. Clearly defined boundaries can help prevent misunderstandings and conflicts arising from unmet expectations. For additional information on boundaries in your marriage check out Boundaries in Marriage by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.

  • Practice Self-Care:

Taking care of your emotional and mental well-being is not selfish—it’s necessary. When you are emotionally balanced, you are better equipped to handle challenges within your relationship. Encourage your spouse to practice self-care as well; a happier, healthier you benefits the marriage as a whole and will help you better navigate negative experiences.

  • Seek Professional Help:

If communication has broken down significantly or if you find it difficult to navigate the issues on your own, seeking the guidance of a professional therapist can provide invaluable support. A therapist can offer objective insights and teach effective communication skills tailored to your specific situation.

  • Lead by Example:

Demonstrate the behavior you wish to see in your spouse. Acts of kindness, generosity, and selflessness can be contagious. By exemplifying these qualities, you inspire your partner to follow suit, gradually transforming the dynamics of your relationship.

  • Focus on Gratitude:

Remind yourself of the positive aspects of your spouse and your relationship. Gratitude can shift your perspective and help you appreciate the good qualities in your partner. Express your appreciation for the things they do that make you happy, reinforcing positive behavior.

  • Foster Individual Growth:

Encourage each other’s personal development. Support your spouse’s goals and aspirations, and they, in turn, may become more supportive of yours. When both partners are growing and evolving, it can lead to a deeper sense of fulfillment and mutual respect.


Remember, navigating a relationship with a selfish spouse is a journey that requires patience, understanding, and effort from both partners. Change is a process and emotional growth in a spouse takes time. By practicing empathy, open communication, and self-care, you may overcome this challenge and create a more loving, balanced partnership.

Sometimes a separation becomes necessary when navigating a relationship with a selfish spouse. If you find yourself contemplating this step, contact us today at (405) 843-1000 and let us help guide you through the process. We’re here to help navigate the family law process with reconciliation in mind where possible.

*Note: This blog post is anecdotal, it’s important to remember that addressing complex relationship issues often requires personalized guidance from a licensed therapist or counselor. This blog post serves as general advice and may not apply to every individual situation.