7 Ways To Deal With A Selfish Husband/ Wife

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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.

In This Article

Why Is It Important To Identify The Signs Of A Selfish Partner?

Selfish behavior undermines empathy, trust, and emotional closeness. These behaviors cause resentment and discontent in the relationship. It triggers strain and emotional turmoil, creating an unhealthy dynamic. Flagging selfish actions is vital so your partner can understand their mistakes and mend their ways before sabotaging the relationship. It also helps you make informed decisions and promotes a more balanced partnership. However, coping with a selfish partner may not be easy as it demands understanding underlying dynamics. This includes setting boundaries and countering emotional manipulation. By addressing selfish actions early on, you can share your expectations and promote understanding.

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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
Spouse giving constant reminders

Image: Shutterstock

  1. 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. It is important to find a balance and both partners should be willing to adjust. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

Laura Doyle, an author, reflects on a time when she felt overwhelmed with responsibilities while her husband disregarded her efforts. She shares, “So it was me–I was the one who took on too much responsibility, which made me feel overburdened and, in turn, critical of my husband for just coasting along. I was the one who sold myself down the river. So all I had to do…was stop. Once I did, my husband seemed a lot less self-centered and willing to pitch in more. Especially because I was in a better mood (i).”

Spouse not supporting

Image: IStock

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.

  1. 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 modeled by the parent.
Single child experiences

Image: Shutterstock

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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

Supporting spouse

Image: Shutterstock

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 make 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, pacify and 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 manage to do it due to your work commitment. Take the opportunity to converse with your spouse to address and assuage your concerns.

protip_icon Quick tip
If you are unable to resolve the situation amicably, consider seeking professional counseling support. The counselor may be able to help your partner identify and correct their issues.

2. Focus on the positives

Achieving a healthy relationship

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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, it is essential to appreciate and assure her for such a kind 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.

Therefore, it is essential to clearly negotiate and demarcate responsibilities, allowing your spouse to fulfill their part for the family. It is vital to collaborate and cooperate with each other to work towards a healthy relationship.

4. Take yourself seriously

Pay attention to yourself. You don’t have to ignore your own needs and desires and replace them with those of your partner. It’s not necessary to willingly concede your own aspirations to accommodate your partner’s selfish behavior. 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 will 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 or blame them. Try to find a solution or remedy that can pacify both of you. Use your words carefully to address the issue and ensure they have an impact. You can sit down and have an open dialogue to share your concerns in a reconciliatory tone.

6. Understand the root cause

There could be an underlying reason for your spouse’s behavior. It is important to contemplate and 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. Ultimately, the decision to yield or to pursue a different path should be based on careful consideration and the best interests of your well-being.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can selfishness ruin a marriage?

Selfishness is a significant enemy of a happy married life. It affects communication, responsibilities at home, conflict resolutions, and the time spent together. Instead of letting us grow together, it continuously creates distance between spouses. It harms marital relationships to a large extent.

2. What is the difference between a narcissist and a selfish person?

While on the surface, selfishness and narcissism may seem similar, the main difference between the two is that a narcissist lacks empathy and self-awareness. In contrast, a selfish person is considerate of what others feel. Narcissists only care for themselves and feed on receiving praises and compliments. They will inevitably turn every conversation to themselves and cannot care for the other on a deeper level. A selfish person can care for others.

3. How to love a selfish person?

The key is understanding and willingness to change. The person struggling with emotional issues will need guidance on being a partner who does their part in the relationship. On the other hand, the person at the receiving end of this selfishness will also need to work on acceptance, patience, appreciation, and compassion for their partner. Set boundaries, talk to them about their roles, and give them time to change.

4. Is it normal to dislike your selfish husband?

It is normal to dislike your husband for being selfish. You may also resent him for his behavior. After all, you cannot keep giving without getting anything in return. Relationships are a two-way street; at some point, you would need the other to be mindful of your desires and show you the love and care you deserve.

Dealing with a selfish partner is an exhausting and challenging task. Their lazy attitude may even affect your ethics. But if you wish to work on the bond between you, the ways mentioned above may help you deal with a selfish spouse. While trying to change their behavior, ensure you effectively communicate your needs and understand the reasons behind their selfish nature. Alternatively, shift the focus onto yourself. If none of your attempts succeed, even if you genuinely love them, you may need to decide where the relationship is headed.

Infographic: Dealing With A Self-Centered Spouse

In any relationship, both partners must be equally invested in each other and ready to work towards improving the relationship. But what do you do if your spouse is self-centered and does not think about your opinion? We have put together a list of tips to help you deal with a self-centered spouse. So read on and do not forget to save this infographic.

dealing with a self-centered spouse (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

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Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • There could be quite a few signs of your spouse’s selfishness like prioritizing their comforts and chastising you on every little thing.
  • There could be many reasons for this behavior such as childhood trauma or the burden of previous relationships.
  • Having open communication with them and also understanding what is not selfishness will help you deal with their problem efficiently.

Does your partner display selfish tendencies? Discover effective strategies to navigate and address this complex situation in this insightful video.

Personal Experience: Source


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1.Selfishness; Good Therapy

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