How to deal with a selfish spouse? Any relationship can prosper only when the two partners walk equal steps towards making it work. However, if you are the only one endeavoring in all aspects of your relationship, it may leave you thinking, is my partner selfish? Ideally, both partners must share equal responsibilities when staying together. Nonetheless, when one is left to hold all the load of a relationship alone, they may begin to feel unappreciated and lonely. If you connect to these feelings and constantly have concerns about a selfish partner, continue reading this post as we help you identify signs of a selfish wife or husband, some possible reasons for such behaviors, and ways to handle them.
Signs Of A Selfish Husband/ Wife
Your spouse might be laid back and lazy but this alone is not enough to conclude that they are selfish. While such behavior can be pretty annoying, selfishness is a trait that is rooted deep. Here are a few signs of a selfish partner.
- They expect you to clean their mess. After a long day at work, you come to a house which is an absolute mess — the kitchen sink is filled with dishes and the place is unkempt while your partner has been ‘relaxing’ since morning. You are the only functioning adult at home and need to take care of everything.
- They lecture you about your duties. Whenever you tell your spouse about their negligence or lack of contribution to the family, they emotionally blackmail you and make you feel guilty. They find excuses to justify their selfishness. They lecture you about your duties, and how sacrificing they have been.
- All that matters is their comfort. Your spouse is ready to move mountains for themselves and their family, but won’t even lift a needle for you. For example, they drag you to visit their family on every holiday, but they find excuses to meet your sick parents. In a relationship, you might have to do things that are outside your comfort zone, but that should happen from both sides. A selfish husband/ wife simply ignores their spouse’s happiness.
- They always come first. No matter how busy you are or what priorities you have, your spouse thinks that they have to be your first priority. They demand your attention, expect you to treat them like royalty and always follow their orders. For example, both of you are running late to work, but your spouse insists you to drop them at their office and then go to your workplace, which is on the other side of the city.
- Your life is filled with their choices. Right from the day-to-day decisions like what you can buy for your birthday to major ones like which career to choose — all decisions are taken by your spouse. If this is how your life is, then your spouse is running your life. Your spouse has every right to make suggestions, guide you and help you, but a selfish spouse decides things for you in such a way that they are more beneficial to them than to you.
- Your vacations are for their happiness. Vacations and holidays are for everybody to unwind and relax. It is a time when you take a break from the routine. But not in your case because your spouse leaves you to take care of the kids while they go around the city trying a beauty salon or a bar. Worse still, they always plan their vacation with their friends, while you stay back at home.
- They lecture about savings, but won’t follow. It is good to have a budget and save money. It is equally important for both the partners to be mindful of their expenditure. But in the case of a selfish spouse, cutting back on expenses is your responsibility while they do not compromise on their spending.
- Demand physical intimacy: Physical intimacy is a beautiful feeling when both the partners are in the mood. But for a selfish spouse, it doesn’t have to be consensual as they expect you to oblige every time they have the mood.
- They neither support nor appreciate: A selfish person always thinks they are the best and no matter how much you do, they will always find faults with it. They do not appreciate your efforts but think that you are just fulfilling your duty as a spouse.
If you are able to relate to most of the above signs, then your spouse could be selfish, and there can be some reason for their selfishness.
Possible Reasons Behind Your Spouse’s Selfishness
Selfishness is a trait imbibed in all humans. All of us are selfish to an extent. But when two people are in love, they tend to support and be there for each other. If you are missing this in your spouse, it could be due to their inherent nature or certain developments in life (1). Here are a few reasons why a person can be selfish.
- Childhood experiences: They play a significant role in shaping a person’s character. If your spouse has been a single child, they would not know about sharing and caring. If a person has too many siblings, then they might have learned to compete with them to always be the first. Also, if they were raised by a selfish parent, they may have been modelled by the parent.
- Cultural impact: In some cultures, men are treated superior to women. Husbands do not find it wrong to dump the household burden on the woman or discourage her from taking up a career. They might not also realize that they are being selfish.
- Past failed relationships: A failed relationship makes people be careful about not doing anything that they have done in the previous relationship. If your spouse was in a relationship wherein their benevolent nature was taken advantage of, then they could turn selfish this time.
- Controlling nature: Some people have the tendency to take everything into their control. They like to have their way around and rarely compromise or agree to the partner’s wishes. Such nature can lead to selfishness.
A selfish spouse is hard to deal with because they seldom listen to you. Also, taking care of all the responsibilities single-handedly can take a toll on your physical and mental health. Confronting them will only make matters worse. So, how do you deal with them?
Ways To Deal With A Selfish Spouse
Remember that selfishness could be inherent in their behavior or they may have been like that since their childhood. Therefore, it is not easy to change them overnight. But do not give up without trying everything possible. Here are a few ways to handle a selfish spouse.
1. Discuss, do not complain
One of the biggest mistakes we do is to complain. No matter how disappointed you are or how inconsiderate your spouse is, never call them selfish. That will only make them defensive. Instead, try to convey your expectations.
If it is your husband’s turn to take kids to the swimming class and he has conveniently dumped it on you, then explain to him that you cannot do it as you have to be at work, and that is important.
2. Focus on the positives
There could be 99 incidents where your spouse proved to be selfish. But there might also be one incident where they put you and the kids first. This means there is still scope for change. Instead of reflecting on their selfish behavior, try to focus on that one generous incident and encourage them.
For example, your wife does not usually involve herself in matters concerning your parents. But on one occasion if she offers to take care of them, then appreciate her for the gesture. Such small things can bring in a big change.
3. Let them take the responsibility
You might be unknowingly taking care of every responsibility, giving little chance for your spouse to do anything. This might make them laid back or hesitant to take up responsibilities. Therefore, clearly demarcate the responsibilities and let your spouse do their part for the family.
4. Take yourself seriously
Turn attention on to yourself. You do not have to ignore your needs and desires and replace them with that of your partner. This will not make them realize your sacrifices but fuels their selfish behavior. Focus on your wants, aspirations, and happiness while fulfilling your responsibilities towards your family.
5. Speak up
You cannot keep quiet and hope your spouse to change one day. If their actions are making you suffer, then speak up. But take care not to be aggressive as it will end in a bitter fight. Be soft but firm. Do not yell at them or blame. Use your words carefully but make sure they are powerful.
6. Understand the root cause
There could be an underlying reason for your spouse’s behavior. Dig a little deeper into it and understand why they are being inconsiderate. It will help you tackle the problem better. Sometimes, the apparently selfish behavior could also be a result of something you are doing. Whatever it is get to the bottom of it.
7. Take a final call
While it is important to be patient with your spouse, you cannot be tolerant forever. Do not allow them to take advantage of your good intentions. If your spouse resists all your attempts to change them, then there is nothing much you can do about it. If they continue to be self-absorbed and also turn abusive, then, maybe, walking away from them is an option.
But before you take any drastic decision, make sure you are right in assessing your spouse because you cannot conclude that they are selfish based on a few incidents.
What Is Not Considered Selfishness?
Do not brand your spouse as selfish just because they like to have some me-time or go out for a party now and then. Here are a few such instances:
- Your partner is able to make time for their friends and hobbies after taking care of their responsibilities at home. That does not make them selfish. In fact, you get inspired from them and find some me-time for you too.
- Your spouse is strictly against your decision (to work, travel, seek help from a particular person, etc.,) because it would adversely affect you or the relationship or goes against their principles.
- In certain situations, they might have to put their friends or family ahead of you. You need to understand their fair intentions and support them.
- Your spouse doesn’t approve of doing everything for your children and pampering them so much that they are always dependent on you. They are setting the right example by saying ‘No’ to kids.
Therefore, give your spouse a benefit of doubt, and understand their perspective too.
Love and selfishness cannot co-exist. When you truly love a person, you cannot see them suffer because of you. And if your spouse is in the habit of ignoring your needs and expectations, then it is time to stand up and tell them what you think. Also if your spouse complains of you being selfish, it is important to see whether you have any behavior patterns.
Do you have any tips to deal with a selfish spouse? Let us know in the comments section below.