“The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort, and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish,” John Paul II.
Selfishness has been described as one of the major enemies of eros love and of love within the family. This description is psychologically correct because selfishness, while falsely appearing to have many benefits, actually turns the person in upon himself, thereby interfering with healthy self-giving which is the essence of the relationship you are trying to have with your partner. Subsequently, this personality weakness creates significant pain and suffering in your intimate relationship and families. It is a major cause of spousal anger, permissive parenting, addictive behaviours, infidelity, separation and divorce. Unless it is uncovered and addressed, selfishness will lead spouses to treat loved ones as objects and not as gifted persons.
What is happening with most individuals is not uncommon to a relationship especially going through the power struggle stage where it is now more than just about the excitement of sex, going out with friends, seeing a movie together, you are now looking to build a life together, and how to handle a selfish partner is not necessarily to attack their personality but in helping them to grow.
Here is a list of things to bear in mind:
• Lack of self-giving
• Failure to attend to the friendship and romantic love
• Treatment of one’s spouse as a sexual object
• Preoccupation with oneself and a failure to think “we” rather than “me.”
• Lack of respect
• Overly controlling behaviours
• Overreactions in anger
• Failure in treating one’s spouse as one’s best friend
• Failure to wish the best for one’s spouse
• Weakness in giving praise
• Excessive anger when everything doesn’t go as expected
• Insistence on having one’s own way
• Strong desire to do what one’s feelings urge one to do
• Focus on one’s own happiness and not one ’s spouse’s happiness
• The tendency to avoid responsibility in some major area of life
• An exaggerated sense of self-importance
• Loss of kindness and thoughtfulness
• Immature and excessive comfort-seeking behaviours
• Obsession with working out, physical appearance and possessions
• Controlling behaviours
• Excessive self-indulgence
• Blind ambition for success
• A focus on the impression one produces rather than on one’s work
• Loss of faith
• Lack of motivation to resolve conflicts
• Lack of openness
• Lack of a sense of oneness and shared mission with one’s spouse
• Lack of sacrificial giving
• Use of pornography
What needs to happen now is for you both to have a conversation, this conversation is about rules set and a conductor for the relationship to survive. This should be approached by you suggesting, now that we have been dating for a while, this is the stage where we have some ground rules moving forward so that the relationship at no point is taken for granted and you are both on the same page. The list above can guide the conversation.
Instead of telling your partner that they are selfish, you talk about ways in which the relationship can grow, a relationship where both persons are nurtured and feel cared for.
How to change the narrative of the relationship?
First, you have the conversation that is saying we have done well so far, now to ensure that our relationship is full proof, here are some things we need to do in keeping the flow. It may sound mechanical at first, however, after a habit is formed it will get easier over time. Some couples will agree never to go to bed angry, some will agree to always pray when leaving the presence of each other, some will do a kiss on the mouth when parting, some will organize a special time when they will normally meet no matter what. If it works, whatever it is, then do it for the sake of the relationship. Do not force your interpretation on each other, but patiently and cautiously grow in grace with each other. It is the attitude that you take to your relationship that will give it life. Trust the path, give your all, be hopeful and a healthy relationship will be your result.