Written by Special Guest Contributors: Gio and Suzy Llerena.

Suzy and I have been married almost 27 years. If we were to try and pinpoint the one area that Satan has used the most to attack our marriage it would have to be selfish- pride.  John Maxwell puts it this way, “This kind of pride is based on self-centeredness, and it's destructive.  Selfish-pride is especially destructive to relationships. That's because the opposite of loving others is not hating them, but rather being self-centered.”

This pride has repeatedly reared its’ ugly head during our three decades of marriage in so many ways.  Pride has shown up in trying to manipulate each other to get what the other wanted. Or putting our own goals and dreams before the other, or having the attitude of “my way or the highway”!  It has also crept up in our finances, parenting, leisure time, and several other areas.

Six months into our marriage, we found out we were expecting our first child.  We were super excited and anxious at the same time.  As a first-time Dad I was completely unaware of this thing called morning sickness.  I personally do not do well with the sounds and smells of what comes with this morning sickness. 

Whenever Suzy would wake up and say she wasn’t feeling well, I would make a quick exit from the apartment and be gone until I felt it was safe to come back.  What I didn’t realize was that my selfish-pride was causing me to neglect the needs of my wife.  She needed someone to comfort her and help her through that process.  She felt alone and I was the cause of that.  It caused emotions that later translated into a phrase that rocked my world, “I hate my life right now and it’s because of you!”

What we have realized over the years is that this selfish-pride is not a glaring sin, but rather a subtle one, much the way Satan works.  I loved Suzy, but truthfully I was more concerned about myself and my well-being.  By thinking this way it was easier to justify leaving the apartment.  After all, I don’t do well with being around sickness, so why would I stick around?

God desires for us as a couple to move towards oneness.  He wants us to love each other with the same agape love that He modeled for us.  Selfish-pride will lead us in the opposite direction.  It fuels grudges, anger, bitterness, sadness, loneliness, hatred, and so much more.  These actions will keep us from reflecting the image of God and the Gospel message of Jesus and the Church.

We, as humans, possess a nature that craves sin.  David says in Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”  We were born into sin, and our desire is to do what the flesh wants.  This is why we are prideful and selfish.  We are constantly looking out for ourselves. 

Before we look into working these things out with our spouse, we must first focus on our vertical relationship with God Himself.  A healthy, sacrificial love for my spouse will ONLY come from a strong understanding of God’s love. The agape, or unconditional, love we saw when God the Father sent His Son Jesus to sacrifice everything for us to have life and have it abundantly. 

The scriptures tell us in Romans 5:8 that “God demonstrated His love towards us that while we were still sinners Christ died for us”.  The self-sacrifice Jesus displayed in humbling Himself and giving up the glories of heaven for us to have eternal life is mind blowing. 

A constant reminder of this powerful message of love will help us view ourselves in light of who Jesus is in our lives. There is no need to be prideful or selfish when we see how much God loves us already. We have nothing to prove. We have everything we need. From this place of being loved we are then able to see how we should view and treat others, especially our spouse. 

As I mentioned earlier, selfish-pride is subtle.  Sometimes we can’t see it in ourselves.  Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?”  Many times we are blinded to our selfish actions. Everyone around you can see it, especially your spouse, but we can't see it.

David, in the Psalms, also realized that he was not a good judge of his own heart. So he asked God to expose it to him so he could get it right.  Psalms 139:23-24 “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

This recognition and confession of our selfish-pride will not only help in strengthening our relationship with God, but will help us view our spouse through the same lens God views us. The lens of unconditional, sacrificial love!

“Fellowship with God – that special intimate communication with Him – is not optional if we want to succeed in marriage.  Scripture describes this daily fellowship as “living” or “walking” by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16).  Because sin drives us away from each other and God, couples who desire to be one should aggressively learn to walk by the Spirit of God.”

Don and Sally Meredith from the book Two Becoming One

This is our goal as we continue to navigate the subtle lies of selfish-pride. The devil tries to trip us up with with these lies, but we can overcome him as we move towards oneness and reflecting the image of God!

Practical Steps:

  1. What subtle ways has Satan used selfishness and pride to invade your marriage?

If you are having a hard time pinpointing it, do what David did in Psalms 139:23-24. Pray for God to expose it and help you heal from it.

2. Are you inviting your spouse to speak into this area of your marriage? 

Give them the freedom to share how selfish pride has entered into the marriage and how it is affecting your relationship.

As you walk through this process, be reminded of God’s sacrificial love to you. Remember how that love brought you freedom, and then provide the same love to your spouse. Read Galatians 5:16 and be reminded daily to walk in the Spirit! 

Christian Family Life is a marriage discipleship ministry. We are here to offer resources and support no matter what condition your marriage is in. Our passion is to Build, Enrich, and Reconcile Marriages. Find out more at https://www.christianfamilylife.com/

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