Oh Hey, It’s Me Again: Confronting Selfishness in Marriage

Written with love, by Karley Kiker

A week goes by fast, y’all! Last week’s topic was easy: I figured I would officially introduce myself by sharing my heart for marriage and hopes for this column. Done and done! Now it’s time to dig into the nitty-gritty, the feels, and all the “real deals” of this marriage thing. And that, I’ve found, is quite a bit harder to write about.

I think that’s because, like most of us, I’m used to showing one side of my life and marriage to the world—ahem, Instagram—and that would be the pretty side. The one where we’re laughing and holding hands and staring lovingly/longingly into each other’s eyes. But last week I dedicated this corner of the internet to openness, honesty, and other good things, which leaves me no choice this week but to follow through. So today, let’s talk selfishness. Yuck! I was hoping this topic might come up later down the road, but since it was the very first issue Taylor and I confronted after saying “I do”—and continues to be the most reoccurring—it makes more sense to lead with it.

Miss Jee's Photography

Miss Jee's Photography

Here’s the thing: I just wish Taylor could read my mind sometimes. I wish he could see that the kitchen is a mess and volunteer to clean it up himself. I wish he would awaken to the fact that his sweaty socks have been on the floor for five consecutive days, and that he would take the initiative to go ahead and pick them up. I wish he would notice when I’ve had a particularly difficult day and offer to give me a back massage. I want him to put his arm around me when I’m meeting one of his friends for the first time, and to tell me I’m beautiful when I’m feeling exactly the opposite. I want complete understanding even when I’m being completely unreasonable. I want an extra measure of patience, over-the-top love, a generous helping of forgiveness; for him to retain self control when provoked and to overlook offense when I lose my cool anyway.

I think you’re probably getting the point by now, and yet...those aren’t the only things I want. See, I’d really appreciate it if he could support every single one of my dreams—and, if necessary, to willingly sacrifice a few dreams of his own to bring them to life. I’d love it if he could just live up to his vows to “love [me] as Christ loves the Church, giving [his] life for [me]” 100 percent of the time. If he would pour time, attention, praise, and affection into me so that I can grow into the fullness of all that I’m meant to be; until every last one of my gifts and talents has blossomed thanks to the richness of his love.

If he could just be perfect, our marriage would be too. Right?

Of course, Taylor has a wishlist of his own. He wishes I’d remember that he just did the dishes AND the laundry yesterday...without me saying anything about it. He wishes that I’d ask him questions about his day instead of immediately diving into everything that went wrong over the course of mine. He wants me to listen more intentionally, to put down my phone and be present, and to be more realistic about when I’ll actually be ready to walk out the door (just five more minutes, I promise).

He’d love it if I would get excited about his dreams instead of squelching them because they don’t correspond with my vision of the future. Everything would be better if I could live up to my vows to “hope all things and believe all things in [Taylor] and for [Taylor], turning [his] eyes constantly to Him who gave us one another” 100 percent of the time. If I would set aside my insecurity for long enough to let him open up and share a painful memory from his past, without making it all about me. If I could deliver the right words at the right time—the ones that have the power to mend every place of brokenness in his heart. If I could meet or exceed his expectations in every circumstance. Trust him completely. Respect him absolutely.

If I could just be perfect, our marriage would be too. Right?

There’s just one problem (give or take about a hundred). This side of heaven, perfection does not exist. We were not designed to be completed by another human being. “Absolute” statements can’t usually be trusted (re: “I always” or “You never”). Also, cliche but true: there is no “I” in team. And in marriage that’s what we are. Teammates. For better or worse, richer or poorer, until death do us part.

Here’s an “absolute” statement that can be trusted: To date, I have never loved Taylor in the fantastical way that I described wanting him to love me. And while I’m learning more and more each day how to give him my best, I have never given him perfection. But really, isn’t that the true beauty of marriage? That in the midst of the ugliness that’s revealed—the broken pieces, the hurt, the pride, the selfishness—we keep choosing each other. What’s even better? As we do so, all of our rough places start to become smoother. And, little by little, we both begin to look more like the people we were created to be.

Miss Jee's Photography

Miss Jee's Photography