My Husband Is Selfish. What Should I Do?

479971873_10ef8c7085One of my closest friends recently confessed to me that she and her husband are having problems. Or, more specifically, she’s having problems with him. I was really touched that she told me. Married people have so much pressure on them to paint a perfect picture of their marriage and pretend like they’re always 100% happy in their partnership. Here’s the real talk on marriage, though: No one’s 100% happy. Marriage is a lot of compromise and struggle and you just have to hope that the good outweighs the bad. And there will be some days, week or maybe even years when the bad feels heavier than the good, but hopefully long-term, you can switch those scales. I just think we need to discuss this a bit more so people don’t panic when they find themselves in a tough spot with their spouse and feel like their marriage is a total failure. That doesn’t mean that your marriage is a failure. That means your marriage is a marriage. Anyway, my friend told me that her husband was being really selfish and that she didn’t know what to do. I’m going to share with you all the advice I told her, just in case it’s helpful to anyone out there.

Identify specific examples

When you start to notice a problem with your partner, it’s easy to let it take over your total opinion of him. You start to think things like, “My husband is always so selfish,” and “My husband never thinks of the kids or me.” Thinking like that is just going to make the problem worse. Instead of thinking in terms of “always” and “never,” find a few specific examples of times he was selfish and then think of reasonable alternatives for how he could have acted. Practice talking about these moments and your suggested alternatives in the mirror and try to get to the point where you can discuss them without being emotional. That’ll help with the next step.

Talk to him

No surprise here. My advice was for my friend to talk to her man and share her feelings. Communication is the most important element of a successful relationship. So, find a quiet time to bring up these issues. Instead of accusing him of being selfish, bring up the examples you though of before and then tell him that you’d really like him to focus on thinking of you as he makes decisions in the future. Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t take this well right away. It’s tough to hear that your character isn’t perfect from someone you love. But, let him mope for a bit and nurse his wounds. That means that he heard you.

Don’t expect everything to change

Nothing happens overnight, especially nothing as massive as a perspective shift like you’re requesting here. Don’t get frustrated if your husband needs a little time to warm up to this new way of thinking about you and your family. As long as he is changing some of his behavior, you’re on the right track.

Celebrate his good behavior

When your man does do unselfish things, make a big deal of it. Let him know how sweet you thought it was that he let you pick the restaurant for your date this time. Or that he arranged his work schedule so that he could be home to watch your show together. Don’t let any good behavior go unnoticed. The more positive reinforcement you give him, the more likely it’ll happen again.

Remember the good things

Of course, even with all of the communication and positive reinforcement in the world, your husband is still going to mess up. He’s a human! (Unless you married a robot. You’ll need more than just my relationship advice to deal with that situation!) So, be sure you don’t let your brain only focus on the crappy stuff your husband is doing. There are a lot of amazing things your husband has done for you and wonderful qualities about him. Remember those before you get too frustrated with him. He’s a good guy, remember?

That advice seemed to help my friend, so I hope it helps you all too! Sending you (and your husband!) much love!

Photo credit: nuriko san / CC BY