I think one of the single biggest fears we bring into our mixed faith marriage is that we are being SELFISH. This is a really bad word  in LDS lingo. It is especially bad when we are talking about marriage.

We often use a word like selfish without really having a clear understanding of what we mean and if our ideas even make sense.

So let’s take a closer look at this word and what it means and how it is impacting your mixed faith marriage.

One common definition is to put yourself (needs and wants) above others’ (needs and wants).

Many people would agree that it is a really good thing to NOT be selfish. That being unselfish is something NECESSARY for a good marriage.

We think that if we EVER take our wants and needs into consideration we are being selfish. So we put others first ALL THE TIME. Even to our own detriment. We neglect our self development, our maturation, our desires (the healthy ones that are part of being a being alive on this planet). We become a shell of a person. We forget to take care of ourselves, under the fear that we will be selfish. We become a people pleaser thinking our purpose is to help others feel good about themselves but really showing them that taking care of ourselves is selfish.

We become a doormat.

We make ourselves INFERIOR in an effort to not be selfish. We then create a relationship based on inequality. That creates resentment, frustration, unmet expectations. It is not healthy nor enjoyable (even if it feels familiar).

With that being said, I think the first definition of selfish is NOT  HELPFUL.

I suggest this definition –  when you put yourself above others because you think you are better and more important that them.

This means that we are not all equal.

I 100% agree that under this definition that it is a really good thing to NOT be selfish. That being unselfish is something NECESSARY for a good marriage.

I like to create definitions that foster equality because that fosters  true partnership.

Does it feel like your marriage is a one up and one down dynamic. Or that someone has the power and gets to call the shots?

There was a time when my husband and I both thought this about each other at the same time.

We were both trying so hard not to be selfish (under the first definition) that we became expert people pleasers – so we were both miserable and resentful of the other. (I am doing all this for you and you can’t do ___ for me) It was ironic and a bit of a farce. We were not creating equality or partnership.

We wanted to avoid marriage issues by being unselfish and ended up creating them because we are ultimately not showing up a an equal partner and at times devolved into a victim.

I consider this to be one of the not so obvious problems in mixed faith marriages.

Is this you? Are you selfish or just super afraid of being selfish?

I have a whole exercise I do with my clients around the concept of selfishness.

This is a issue that needs to be addressed to have a marriage that thrives.


Talk to you soon,

Brooke Booth, JD
Certified Life Coach