Confronted by My Self-Centeredness

When I came face-to-face with my selfishness...


I’ve often said that I am on the same journey of healing our marriage as many of you are. That doesn’t mean that I like coming face-to-face with things I still need to work on.

But that’s exactly what happened today.

I’ve been praying for God to show me where I needed to grow as a wife. I confess it was a half-hearted prayer. My prideful self thought that I had all this wife stuff figured out. I was praying it just for show—which is absolutely ridiculous. Who did I think I was fooling? Certainly not God—who gave me exactly what I asked for despite the fact that I didn’t think I needed it.


We have our 25th anniversary coming up, and I’d thought it would be nice to make a list of 25 things I love about Big Guy. Rather than just make a list from memory, I decided to actively pay attention for a few weeks.

My list has been taking shape. Big Guy knows my favorite cookie and brings it home for me from the grocery store some times. He cleans the hair out of the bathtub drain because it makes me gag. He reads my blog posts and says nice things to me about them.

This morning I posted this on Instagram. It’s an image that shows me several things I can put on my list.


When I came face-to-face with my selfishness...

The caption reads:

This cup has so much love in it. Every night, Big Guy prepares the coffee and programs it for the morning. When he leaves in the morning, he sets the coffee maker to stay hot until I wake up. He got me this cup for Valentine’s Day because he wants me to start my day knowing how beautiful I am. My cup of hot coffee warms me in both heart and body.

As I posted this, I thought about my list. I wondered if I should include “makes coffee,” since he does that for himself, too. But then it hit me what that means: the other things he does only for me.

My husband does things solely for the purpose of loving me.

I had never realized it before, but he absolutely does. He goes out of his way to do things just so I can feel loved.

How had I not seen this before?

I came to a sobering realization: despite all the work I’ve done on myself, I am still self-centered in my marriage.

Two things in particular led to this realization:

#1: I am not doing anything that is just for the purpose of showing him I love him.

My husband does things for me simply for the purpose of showing me his love for me. Yet I couldn’t think of a single thing I do for him for that purpose. I wash his laundry and cook most of his dinners, but those are things I’m doing for myself anyway. They are not things I do only for him. The only thing I could come up with was that I put his pills in his pill box every week. Even that, though, is a task that has to be done. It adds nothing to his life other than the few minutes he no longer has to spend arranging his pills on his own. He says it is the thing that makes him feel most loved, and that’s good—but that’s all I have.

My husband goes out of his way to do things just to love me, and I can’t think of anything I do for the purpose of helping him feel loved and cherished.

#2: I think of my love for him in terms of how he makes my life better.

He buys me cookies. He cleans the drain. I do love that he does those things—but ultimately, those are things about me, not about him.

Big Guy asked me what I wanted for Christmas last year, and I told him I wanted only one thing: I wanted him to write me a love letter.

Writing about his feelings is way outside his comfort zone, but he did it anyway. He did it because I wanted him to and because he knew that would speak love to me in a way nothing else would.

He gave me a wonderful list of the things he loves about me. While some of the things on the list are things I do for him, many of them are just things about me that he loves. His list shows that even as he sees the ways our lives have meshed together, he also sees into my heart. He sees my character. He sees the things that matter to me

He sees me.

I am ashamed to admit that my list was not really things I love about Big Guy. My list was full of things I loved that he does for me.

What he does for me is not who he is.

Intimacy is knowing and being known. Recognizing the things my husband does for me is appreciating him—but it isn’t seeing him and knowing him. It certainly isn’t loving the man he is.

Here I am married for almost 25 years, still learning what I have to work on as Big Guy’s wife.

It was a very humbling answer to the prayer I wasn’t really praying. It’s an answer to the prayer I should have been praying.

As I am writing this, Big Guy is out in the kitchen getting me a bowl of ice cream that I surely don’t deserve.

And after the ice cream? I’m starting a new list.

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11 Comments on “Confronted by My Self-Centeredness”

  1. This may well be the most important realisation you have ever made!

    Forget the list and just start doing those special things just for your husband and I bet you’ll be amazed by the results.

  2. Kudo’s to ya, for being able to recognize what’s going on in your heart. I think most or all of us wrestle with seeing the differences between just plain old-fashioned love vs some practical help your spouse gives. This recognition that you came to, and described so well — that has often seems to me to be very elusive, and a real important first step to either offering just plain old love, or receiving and recognizing it and appreciating it for what it truly is. We’re coming up on 37 yrs married, 40 yrs knowing each other, and we still find it some days, and can’t find it other days.

    Bless you in your own journey and in your writing!

  3. Chris, I wouldn’t sell yourself that short. From reading this blog, it’s clear that since you started trying to repair your marriage, that you have done things for the Big Guy to show you love him. Just of the top of my head, this:

    I mean, yes, I get that you did that because you wanted to for the sake of improving your marriage, but the thing is, that’s how this all works. People do things to show love in part because it is what they want to do. That is, in a way, the definition of sincerity.

    Now, I am not saying that it isn’t an area you could improve on, because you know that better than I do, but I wouldn’t say that you are “not ever doing anything for the purpose of showing love.”

    1. Thanks for saying this. Now that I see sex as for me as much as for my husband, I’m not sure if that counts. Even if I’m doing things that he desires, I know I will benefit, too. I guess if something is for us and not just for him or me, that’s a good sign of being one flesh, right?

  4. Spot on today Chris. Your words opened my eyes and my heart again today. I am loved by a wonderful man and my love language is way into acts of service. His is touch and affirmation. While he speaks my langauge so very well now after our time of struggle, I still find I lack in his. The things he needs to truly feel love for me. I am going to work even harder to be intentional in this area, he is working 1000 miles away in VA while I am here in WI so my words are even more important now.
    I started reading your blog some time ago at a time we were lost in the rough waves of the relationship sea. Your blog, some christian counseling, and a huge amount of work on both our parts have made us stronger today than ever. This is allowing us to get thru this season of being apart and relying on phone and internet for keeping our marriage strong. And its so hard… the strongest time in our marriage of 23 yrs and now its long distance for this season. Its doing wonders for our communication skills however 🙂
    Keep writing, and know there are SO MANY more like me… lost on the sea and clinging to the light, from the lighthouse in the distance, knowing the shore is not so far away.

    God Bless you and Big Guy. Keep shining your light- we see it and we are grateful.

    1. Thank for the encouragement, Michelle. The communication skills you’re building now surely will make things even better when you’re back together. And yay for someone else in Wisconsin!

  5. As a husband, if I’m honest while I love doing things to make my wife feel loved, and appreciated, there is always a level at which, I hope it will engender a loving response from her. I think that this is just human nature. Even in my relationship with God, there is a level in which, I hope that the way I conduct myself pleases Him. Granted this is always tempered with the realization that apart from Him I can do nothing. So I think this is a sign of growth, to even be aware of your selfish nature, that we all share. Romans 12:10 speaks of outdoing one another, in showing honor. While strictly speaking, it is applied to brothers and sisters,that are not married, I think it also applies to those of us who are married.

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