How to Overcome Selfishness in a Marriage

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Selfishness can be toxic in a relationship. One partner may feel neglected and forgotten when the other focuses only on personal desires. Through communication, understanding and patience, a couple can overcome the pitfalls of selfish behavior. A selfish person who desires to chance can do so with the love and support of a spouse.

Everything Is Not Your Fault

A selfish spouse can attempt to make the other partner feel guilty during a disagreement. A selfish person does not claim responsibility for personal actions but blames the other partner for marital problems, according to psychotherapist and marriage educator Richard Fitzgibbons in his article "The Selfish Spouse/Relative," published on the Institute for Marital Healing website. It is important for both partners to realize that not all marital problems can be blamed on one person. Marriage is a partnership, and both people share equal responsibility for the state of the marriage.

Communicate With Loving Intention

Selfish people are often insecure and can have low self-esteem. If you wish to discuss your partner's selfish ways, approach the conversation at a time when you are not angry or hurt, advises assistant clinical professor of psychiatry Srini Pillay in his article "Debunking Myths of the Mind," published by "Psychology Today." A selfish person can become defensive when feeling attacked or criticized. Approaching your partner in a loving, supportive manner helps to get your message across without wounding an already fragile self-esteem.

If at First You Don't Succeed

Dealing with selfishness in marriage can take time and several conversations. If a conversation goes poorly, stop, re-think your approach and try again, says psychologist Brent Atkinson in his guideline titled "When Your Partner’s Actions Seem Selfish, Inconsiderate, Immature, Inappropriate, or Bad in Some Other Way," taken from Chapter 8 of "Developing Habits for Relationship Success -- Edition 4.2." A selfish person often takes comments very personally, even if that was not your intent. Your partner can end up with hurt feelings and become defensive. Do not stop communicating -- just change your delivery and try again.

The Root of the Issue

Your spouse may always be selfish. You can choose to live with it or not. If you look at possible causes of the selfishness, you may have more success in understanding your partner, says psychologist William Cottringer in his article "Making Relationships Less Difficult," published on the online self-improvement website Your partner may have experienced childhood issues that led to the selfish behavior. Maybe a previous failed relationship created anxiety in your spouse that has manifested as selfishness. Change your focus from changing your spouse to understanding your spouse. This can create greater patience for you and your partner.