Truth: The days in marriage when I feel most “in -love” with my husband are the times it is easiest to dwell on his strengths. Likewise, those days when I am frustrated with my husband, it is easy for my mind to focus on all the areas I believe him to have faults.
Last week, I found myself frustrated with Jason and within a matter of minutes my thoughts spiraled out of control as I made a mental list of all the areas where I felt my husband was being selfish:
- Our local science museum is a hosting movie nights this summer where they are showing classics such as The Princess Bride and Jurassic Park on their IMAX screen. I mentioned to Jason, twice, that I would like to go, and he voiced, twice, that he had no interest. His selfishness struck me, so I dwelled on it and held it against him.
- After the children had gone to bed, I had high (unspoken) hopes of watching a movie with my husband. When I ask him what his plans for the evening hours were, he shared with me his desire to spend time in his music studio (which doesn’t exactly include time with me). His selfishness struck me, so I dwelled on it and held it against him.
- Jason grew tired during the day and wanted to take a nap. I played the “victim card” and made myself into martyr because I, too, was tired and wanted to take a nap, but couldn’t because he was sleeping and, well, someone had to watch the children. His selfishness struck me, so I dwelled on it and held it against him.
I replayed Jason’s self-centered moments over and over in my mind. For two days, I was grumpy and short-tempered with him because, with every decision he made and every word he spoke, all I could see was his selfishness. As we were outside playing with the children, I asked him if he wanted to take a family walk. He said no, that playing baseball in the yard should be our family activity. I immediately found myself rolling my eyes and grumbling,
Ugh! He is so selfish!!
At that moment, the Lord very clearly spoke into my heart a truth that made me (quite literally) stop in my tracks. He said, “Darby, when you complain, ‘He is so selfish.’ What you are saying is ‘I am so selfish.’ You complain that it is always about what your husband wants, but really what you mean is ‘Why can’t it be all about what I want?!'”
Talk about a humbling moment.
When the Lord reveals to you a sin… it is hard to deny to justify your behavior. I sat, humbled, at the truth of His conviction. I was frustrated with Jason for “being selfish” because I can’t control my own selfishness. Jason never demonstrated evil intent behind his words or behaviors, but I couldn’t see that because I focused on the fact I had to deviate from my own desires.
- I thought an IMAX movie would be a fun date night, but I didn’t take into account that my husband, as long as I have known him, does not enjoy watching a movie more than once. All of those old-favorites of mine would have been repeats for him and something he wouldn’t enjoy.
- I wanted to spend quality time with my husband after the children went to bed, but I didn’t consider that my husband is not a mind reader and may not have known my desires. I didn’t pause to think about how he worked all day, came home and played with the children, and how he, as an introvert, might desire a moment to himself to do things he enjoys (or that he may have things he needed to do such as pay bills or send e-mails).
- I am a mother, which requires that I am at peace with being tired. Rather than growing upset with Jason for wanting a nap, I should understand his desire and consider it a privilege to gift him with a nap as a simple way to express my love.
Now, I realize, that there are some husbands out there who are incredibly selfish. Their actions are painful to their entire family and, for that, there is no excuse. If that is your case, please don’t assume I am calling you selfish because I am not. I can only speak for myself and the marriage that I am in. Your case may be different, but for me, the Lord made it clear that in my moments of frustration, I need to realize that Jason is no more selfish than I am.
If I would gouge out my own selfishness with the same zeal that I want to gouge out my husband’s selfishness, imagine the freedom from anger I would experience and the grace I would be able to show my husband! If I focused less on myself, my wants, and my way – I would be able to see how my husband isn’t the selfish monster that I sometimes make him out to be. I must remember that being frustrated with my husband’s selfishness is truly a mirror to my own selfishness.
Do you ever blame your husband for your own selfishness?