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Get Rid Of Selfishness In Your Marriage

A marriage has an ebb and flow with giving and receiving. When one of the partners always gives more than the other, the relationship be comes unbalanced and needs attention, or it may drive that partner away. When one is so concerned and consumed in themselves, they forget to care about their life-long partner, disrupting the balance of married life. Caring about each other's needs and moods is essential in marriage.

Understanding Selfishness 

Selfishness is the tendency to act excessively or solely to benefit oneself, even if others are disadvantaged.

Selfish behaviors and attitudes are displayed by the following:

●      Lack of empathy

●      Prioritizing personal needs consistently

●      Disregard for partner's feelings and opinions

 Traits of selfishness in marriage:

      1. Acting in self-interest or feeling entitled instead of considering others' needs.

      2. No empathy for suffering people.

      3. No remorse when they've hurt others

      4. Use manipulation tactics and others to get what's wanted.

      5. Asking for favors but not repaying them.

      6. Unkindness, or kindness, has a price.

  Common examples of selfishness in marriage are:

●     When a partner makes their choices, desires, and decisions to benefit them only, regardless of how it would affect the other partner, it is selfish.

●     During arguments or a disagreement, both partners must be considerate towards each other's feelings; being one-sided is selfish.

●     In a marriage, family time should be a priority; getting so immersed in a career is detrimental that a spouse or family has lost their time and effort from that partner.

Causes of Selfishness 

Selfishness can vary with situations; everyone engages in this behavior to a certain extent.

Here are some factors that can cause selfishness:

Genetics: Family members with narcissistic personalities might make people more likely to display this trait.

Upbringing: Growing up with adult mentors who emphasized materialism and self-centeredness can influence selfishness in their child.

Stress: People may become selfish as a response to stressful events.

The Impact of Selfishness on Marriage 

Selfishness on the part of a spouse can cause their partner reluctance in thinking about their happiness. It can badly damage your love life if selfishness is repeatedly displayed. Physical intimacy, as well as emotional intimacy, is lost, and resentment can arise. Communication can break down, and trust weakens along with the couple's connection. Selfishness in a relationship might force the other partner to seek love outside the relationship.

Cultivating selflessness 

Here are some steps for couples to take:

●     Listen. Listen to grasp your spouse's feelings with as much accuracy as possible.

●     Validate. Respond verbally to your spouse with validation like, "I can see how you'd feel that way." while avoiding judgment and trying to fix.

●     Share. Put yourself in their shoes and look at the world from their eyes. Experience the anger, frustration, excitement, happiness, or feelings they express with an empathetic ear and a compassionate response.

●     Practice vulnerability. Empathy is built by both people in the marriage opening up about situations, feelings, and thoughts, and each responds similarly with empathy.

Overcoming Challenges

 Assertive communication is a skill that is valuable with selfishness. Practicing assertive communication allows setting clear boundaries, confronting selfish behaviors, and expressing feelings. Communicating in a way that will enable you to advocate for yourself while collaborating to find a middle ground with solving problems may be very effective with a selfish person. Using open and honest communication while sharing your needs, desires, and concerns and using skills such as active listening by focusing on what your partner is saying while showing understanding and validation is also helpful.

If you have a selfish person in your life, they've likely hurt you at some point, whether they realize it or not. Here are some tips to deal with the selfish people you have in your life.

Don't take it personally.

Understand that selfish people behave in their self-interest, regardless of how you act. Avoid taking their behavior personally or blaming yourself.

Set clear boundaries.

Sticking to boundaries may help you be less affected by the selfish person's behavior.

Practice acceptance

Understand that with mental health issues, there may be nothing you can do to change this person's behavior. If a confrontation doesn't change the person's behavior as you'd hoped, practicing acceptance in such situations isn't easy, but it may be necessary.

Get educated.

Knowledge of the root causes behind selfish behavior can help you empathize with the person and gain a deeper understanding that their behavior is not your fault.  

If you or your partner are struggling with selfishness, Marriage in a Box is an excellent resource for learning strategies and identifying selfish behavior patterns and communication skills.

Consider using Marriage in a Box to heal your marriage.

Marriage in a Box provides access to tools and techniques professionals use for relationship issues. You can set goals, earn rewards, and find marriage coaching on the site. Check out the available kit and sources of information online.

Posted 8/30/2023

Nip These 7 Marriage Arguments in the Bud Before They Ruin the Holidays

The holidays can be both a happy and stressful time of the year. With all the preparation activities like shopping, decorating, attending parties, and other holiday events. The holidays can be emotionally stressful for various reasons. Holidays trigger a lot of different emotions, both happy and sad. There can be happy childhood memories, and also losses.

 This article examines potential barriers to a pleasant and stress-free holiday and the topics and instances that often lead to the most stress and arguments during the season.

Seven Things couples argue about during the Holiday season.

1. Money

Increased spending can put a strain on things. Money is one of the number one causes of arguments during the holidays, and spending as a couple during the holidays can spur many issues and trigger debates.

2. The “Ex” Factor

Memories of exes or the stress of dealing with them and juggling visitation times during the holidays can intrude on the joy of holidays.

3. Childcare and Discipline

Sometimes, extended family members may judge your parenting style or try to discipline your child in a way you disagree with. It's essential to plan to avoid an adverse reaction, like pulling that family member aside to have a private conversation with them. Ask each other for support and be a team to set healthy boundaries and avoid tension because of toxic family behaviors.

4. Where to Spend the Holidays

Another of the most common arguments during the holidays is where you will spend them. Start discussing your holiday plans early, and agree to a little compromise regarding where you will spend your holidays.

 Consider both sets of family and friends, especially if one of you lives far away from your family. Friends, family, or just each other.

5. Which Holiday Parties and Events to Attend

A common argument for couples during the holidays can be due to unvoiced expectations. If one of you wants alone time and the other plans a party with all your closest friends, that can lead to an argument. The situation is easy to avoid through communication and planning to agree on what activities you will or won't attend.

6. Following Family Traditions

The holiday season involves multi-generational Family traditions. High expectations for these traditions to be carried out can spark squabbles when things change. Family traditions can bring joy to the family and create memories.

7. Cleaning and Chores

If you're hosting, you'll need to do a deep cleaning and decorating before the festivities commence. Other tasks will involve meal planning and preparation. Shopping for gifts and wrapping them and preparing for possible guests.

Tips on Avoiding Holiday Arguments Before They Start.

Set Spending Limits and Budget Gift-Giving.

You and your partner should agree on a spending budget. Money is another tricky topic within families. The idea of gifts and how much to spend can be challenging, especially during the holiday season. In some families, gift-giving is their way to express love. Communicate Expectations Before the Holiday Events Begin.

Talk to your Partner if Feeling Neglected.

With a to-do list that seems endless, the holidays can make you feel super stressed and neglected. After all, if you're taking everything on your shoulders to complete all the tasks, you will need to talk to your partner and family to ask for help and self-care time. You can find some downtime together to snuggle on the couch with a warm cocoa mug and listen to holiday music.

Work with your partner to decide where to spend the Holidays.

Sit down with a Calendar and Plan the events and activities you'll attend together so that your time can be shared with family and balanced adequately for your own time. You may need to plan for guests or travel, which goes more smoothly with planning.

Learn to Compromise on Family Traditions.

Instead of focusing on the family tradition, try focusing on what's important: spending time together. The purpose of having a tradition is to create memories with your family which will last forever. One strategy is to have each family member make a list of the rituals they enjoyed as a child and rank them in order from 1-10 to celebrate that year, but if your top picks conflict, you can switch off yearly, so everyone is happy.

Decide in advance who will discipline children at holiday functions.

Explain to children the rules at Holiday gatherings and the consequences for breaking the rules. Talk with the other adults about taking turns supervising the kids. Ask each other for support and be a team to set healthy boundaries and avoid tension because of toxic family behaviors.

Share the load during the holidays.

Try to figure out what needs to be done and ask for help. Encourage potluck involvement and try to save some tasks for after your guests leave so you are not stuck in the kitchen cleaning the whole time on Christmas or New Years’ day. Assign age-appropriate tasks to your team (i.e., your family), so you can do them with others. Try splitting your shopping list and chores with your significant other. Encourage your older children to help where possible.

Make time for self-care and deal with all the Holidays may bring.

Some tools for grief and self-care like journaling feelings, daily gratitude, regular exercise, getting enough sleep and sharing your thoughts with someone you trust. Take time out from the preparations to relax and focus on fun and joyful, comforting things.

If you're having difficulty getting through the Holidays while maintaining a peaceful relationship with your spouse, seeking outside support can help you make it through this season.

Marriage In a Box is a great resource that gives you access to the simple tools, techniques, and solutions that professional marriage counselors use for typical relationship issues. Marriage coaching is also available on the site. You can set goals and earn rewards. Feel free to check out the available kit and sources of information online.

Posted 12/7/2022

Do You Criticize Or Compliment Your Spouse?


It is not unusual for a partner to lash out by criticizing their spouse sometimes after a tough day. It is healthy to realize that something hurtful was said and apologize quickly. You may feel stung as a partner on the receiving end of the critical words, but hopefully, you can empathize with a hard day and accept a heartfelt apology. If criticism shows up occasionally like this in a relationship, it is not a cause for concern unless criticism escalates to becoming a habit where consequences can be devastating.

To compliment is an expression of esteem, respect, affection, or admiration.

To criticize is to find fault with or point out one's flaws.

The Difference between criticism and constructive feedback

For a relationship to function well, feedback must be given and accepted. There is a line between constructive feedback and criticism. Healthy feedback is about behavior and not a person. We can let our partner know what we think or feel without criticizing them individually. An example would be, "I'm worried about eating too much fat in our diet. Can we talk about how we might eat healthier?

On the other hand, criticism lends itself to commenting on a partner's character or personality and is often extreme and non-specific. For example, "You're lazy and always cook with a lot of fat, like fried food and food drenched with butter, and never cook healthily. You don't even care if it kills us!". Criticism usually contains words like always and never as part of the accusation.

This type of delivery kills our message's value and makes the feedback pointless.

The Effects of Criticism on your Marriage

Our critical side can raise its ugly head during stress or frustration, making it a difficult habit to break. Understanding the effect criticism has on your partner and the shared bond may encourage you to reexamine your ways.

It breaks down your partner's self-esteem.

As anyone who receives criticism knows, these statements cut deeply. Repeated criticism can shake one's confidence and cause doubt about the ability to perform. If criticism comes from someone who is supposed to love us, we begin to believe that what they say must be valid. It raises questions about our value and worth.

It erodes trust.

Frequent criticism feels like betrayal and violates the implied promise of protection from hurt made in the formation of the relationship.

How to break the cycle of constant criticism

  • Stop trying to change your spouse.

Trying to force your spouse to change can cause more harm than good. Couples changing and growing should happen naturally, not something you should push. Encouraging self-improvement is an admirable quality of a supportive partner.

  • Treat your partner with Respect.

Respect indicates that your feelings, happiness, and welfare are essential to your partner and promote trust, appreciation, empathy, and safety. A mission to change your spouse is disrespectful to them and your relationship. It can break down their self-esteem, hurt their feelings, and demean their sense of self.

  • Stop pushing your partner away.

Personal growth is fantastic. Everyone has things on which they could work. Changing behaviors and responses for your partner is sometimes a good thing. But if you constantly try to change your partner, you disrespect them and send a message that what they offer you isn't good enough, and distance is created.

  • Put yourself in your partner’s shoes

Realize that you wouldn't accept someone criticizing you. Think about how it would feel if your partner constantly told you that you need to change. Nobody likes to be picked apart and told what to do all the time. Demanding change from your spouse can leave them feeling unworthy and leave you emotionally exhausted and unsatisfied.

Tips to stop criticism.

The antidote to criticism is to use a soft, gentle manner to complain without blame.

Decide the kind of person and spouse you want to be and how you want that reflected in your marriage. If you are serious about removing criticism from your marriage, decide and commit to working on your part.

  • Discuss your feelings using "I" statements and expressing a positive need. Avoid using "you" statements and expressing negative judgment, which will make your partner feel attacked.
  • Focus on the positive aspects of your partner instead of the negative.
  • Do what it takes to stop finding fault, belittling, nit-picking, cutting down, or chastising your partner. It takes work to accept your partner, even their annoying traits, bad habits that aren't harmful, quirks, and idiosyncrasies.
  • Think about why you married your spouse and praise their good qualities.

Resign yourself to the fact that you will not change your partner. Observe any behavior changes in your partner. Without criticism in your marriage relationship, see if your partner is more interactive, lively, open, or spontaneous and seems more relaxed.

There are resources available from the Marriage in a Box website in the form of a toolbox, The Marriage in a Box toolbox and coaching can both help you and your partner change how you relate to each other. Marriage in a box tools and resources can provide tips to communicate effectively. Feel free to check out the available kit, resources, and counselors online at ttps://

Research shows that you will be on the road to change if you apply new behaviors for thirty consecutive days. Everyone deserves to live in a criticism-free environment.

Posted 11/16/2022

Is Your Spouse Keeping Secrets From You?

Everyone keeps Secrets, and research shows that people keep around thirteen of them on average. Researchers found that the most common secrets involve behavior or romantic thoughts about someone outside the confines of your primary relationship. But all secrets, big and small, profoundly affect you and your marriage whether you notice it or not.

Tip: 3 Ways to Spot a Secret

  1. You're hiding something on purpose.
  2. There is shame or fear about sharing it with your partner.
  3. It would upset your partner if they discovered that you hid it.

Secrecy is not Privacy.

Privacy is about having a life you don't share with others; secrecy is about intentionally hiding information. It is probably in the secret category if you feel shame or fear about something you're not sharing with your spouse.

Why Do Partners Keep Secrets from Each other?

Keeping secrets within a relationship can create conflict or embarrassment. People keep secrets because they fear that their partners won't be able to love them if they know the truth. People believe that the anger, shame, or humiliation their partner would feel would alienate them and push them away from the relationship. Secrecy deprives family members of the information that could have enabled them to act to prevent a future problem.

Keeping Secrets Could Destroy Your Relationship.

Typical secrets reported include money troubles, viewing pornography, and various forms of betrayal, such as infidelity. Experts agree that secrets can cause broken trust and are hard to repair. When your partner withholds essential information from you regardless of their reasons, it's normal to feel betrayed. For many, any form of deceit can be a deal-breaker. Feeling guilty or uneasy about not disclosing information to them is a red flag that you need to do so. When people keep secrets, they impede communication between themselves and their loved ones, creating stilted, unnatural conversations because so much overthinking is involved to ensure they are not revealing the lie.

Determine What to Share with Your Spouse and What Not To.

Things You Should Not Keep Secret from Your Spouse

Examples of these truths include job loss, debt, infidelity, addictions, health diagnoses, and any other information that could damage (or do further harm) the trust between you and your spouse. Often, people keep significant truths secret from one another because they don't want to harm others.

Private Issues That Could Harm Your Relationship with Your Spouse.

Privacy can be a boundary around one's thoughts, ideas, and past experiences that don't directly involve one's partner. A secret is misleading and intentionally kept hidden from them for fear of judgment or reprisal. It would affect their well-being emotionally, spiritually, physically, or financially. Privacy becomes harmful when your partner is affected by the secret.

Some examples of this:

  • They are not paying bills, harboring financial debt, or borrowing money without their knowledge.
  • Work issues include knowing you might be losing your job or considering a job change that will affect your shared lifestyle.
  • Addiction.
  • Health issues that will affect them.
  • Relationships or affairs.

This three-question test will help you decide whether you need to disclose information to your partner.

  1. How would you feel if your partner held a similar secret and didn't tell you?
  2. What is your motive for sharing, and what is your reason for not sharing? Are those reasons in line with your values?
  3. Have you discussed how you each feel and think about Privacy and secrecy? Can you discuss the information in mind without going into specifics so that you reach a mutual agreement on where you should draw the lines?

Some of the following issues may be better to keep to yourself such as:

  • Past lovers or times spent with someone else are better left unsaid. Many relationship experts feel that health is the only topic to discuss regarding past relationships, although some people love stories about old lovers.
  • Things that someone has confided only in you.
  • Thoughts about a best friend or a business colleague being especially hot are best unspoken.
  • Secret complaints about something their partner cannot change about themselves: body hair, introverted tendencies, or you wish they had gotten their teeth straightened when they were a kid.

Discuss Expectations and Boundaries about Honesty, Openness, and Privacy with Your Spouse.

 If you've never discussed expectations, boundaries, honesty, openness, and Privacy with your spouse, it would be beneficial to do so. As a couple, you'll want to establish boundaries and expectations that work for you. You can decide what life details you wish to share and what information might be better left unsaid.

If you feel uncomfortable or uneasy because you cannot trust your partner, then deciding not to take them back is logical. A quality life needs a sense of security. Keeping secrets or lying to a partner risks losing their trust and jeopardizing your relationship.

Marriage In a Box is a great resource that gives you access to the simple tools, techniques, and solutions professional marriage counselors use for typical relationship issues. Marriage coaching is also available on the site. You can set goals and earn rewards. Feel free to check out the available kit and sources of information online.

Posted 10/19/2022

Can You Change a Suffocating Marriage?

Signs of a suffocating relationship can take several forms. It can be that a needy partner craves so much attention that they can't see friends or family. A codependent relationship can excessively demand your time and energy. People may become resentful, feel trapped, and erect walls if they neglect personal wants in favor of their spouse. A stifling relationship can rob the joy of a healthy romantic partnership and become toxic.

Your Partner is Keeping Tabs on You.

Enmeshment in a relationship can have symptoms of blurred boundaries like micromanaging and excessive control. Indeed, you should always talk to your partner before making major life decisions, but you shouldn't have to speak to them about every detail. If you're in a relationship with an enmeshment style of attachment, set small limits on your partner's control by making small, daily choices without consulting them first. 

Your Partner is Jealous.

Jealousy is a feeling of anger when someone thinks another person is trying to get their partner's attention. Jealousy is a desire to control someone to whom you're attached. If your partner borders on irrational jealousy, it can become toxic if they obsess about who you're with when you're not with them. Jealousy can make your partner insecure and anxious about whether your feelings for them are authentic.

Your Partner Uses Manipulation to Get What They Want.

Manipulation is an attempt by an individual to influence someone's emotions to get them to act in a way to get what they want. Every human is subject to manipulating others to get what they want, especially in close or casual relationships. Using guilt or feigning illness are common tactics that prevent you from interacting with family or friends or enjoying time independently. The manipulator may be consuming all of your time already and may want to isolate you, which will cause feelings of suffocation.

Small Ways to Fix a Suffocating Marriage

Express your concerns to Your Partner

One of the most important things to fix the experience of emotional suffocation is expressing your feelings openly about violating your boundaries so they can see the relationship through your eyes. If your partner isn't aware that they're being suffocating, chances are they won't do anything about it. It can be even more significant if they're aware of your needs and aren't listening.

Open communication with mutual respect is essential to every healthy relationship. When discussing boundaries with your partner, be honest and understanding about what you and your partner are comfortable with or not. Consider writing down your expectations to see what you want when sharing them with your partner. Open communication about how certain behaviors affect you lets your partner know what's wrong so they can fix it.

Set solid boundaries

Each partner should set specific personal boundaries at the beginning of the relationship and when attempting to repair current damages. These boundaries need to be firm, without allowances for crossing the lines, or there is a possibility of ending the partnership.

Take back your privacy.

It's okay to celebrate milestones, special occasions, and even good news on social media if everyone agrees and knows it's happening. Decide what you will share with family and friends or on social media and what will be kept personal.

Work on re-developing a sense of independence.

Couples should make significant decisions as a team. If one person makes all the decisions, the cycle of feeling suffocated can start in a relationship. To break free from the pattern, limit your mate's "policing" capacity and choose to make daily decisions independently.

Encouraging your partner to have fun with friends or family or engage in hobbies or activities independently will display trust in your mate. Your spouse may see they can also trust you to do activities alone without the occurrence of anything improper.

Freely share your opinion.

It's healthy for couples to share their opinions on different topics and agree to disagree. Being able to share views is a beneficial element of good relationships. Loving couples disagree on many subjects, but it doesn't have to affect their feelings for each other.

Take time each day for yourself.

Pamper yourself and do things you enjoy to refuel positive energy and relieve stress (hobbies, sports, spa time, etc.).

Reinforce the Importance of Trust.

If you're in a committed relationship for a while and still feel it's hard to be alone, you may want to look at what's happening. Reconnecting to your individuality will be very hard if you continue this way, and it will feel impossible to respect theirs. Building a relationship of trust will help you avoid feeling smothered.

If your partnership is beginning to drain you or cause resentment towards your mate, consuming every moment of your time and having unreasonable expectations, you're experiencing a suffocating relationship. Partners can learn to effectively communicate their needs and wants and show mutual respect and commitment to one another.

Work on your relationship together in the privacy of your home! Download Marriage in a Box's e-book "Marriage: Fix it or Leave It" by Maria Sappe, LMFT. Marriage In A Box is also a great resource that gives you access to the simple tools, techniques, and solutions professional marriage counselors use for typical relationship issues. Marriage coaching is also available on the site. Check it out online.

Posted 10/12/2022

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