Selfishness—the Destroyer of Marriage

Selfishness—the Destroyer of Marriage by Dr. Randy Gilchrist, LDS Psychologist (FREE LDS online dating site)

When it comes to marriage, selfishness is the great destroyer. Selfishness is defined by as “devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others; manifesting concern or care only for oneself”. Primarily caring about oneself in a marriage often leads to neglect, hurtfulness, and a lack of consideration towards the other person. Keeping a relationship together when one partner is acting selfish in these ways will usually last…about as long as the second partner is willing to put up with it. And when the partner primarily on the receiving end of this finally grows tired of it and stands up to the other, the demise of the marriage usually follows soon thereafter.

Church Quotes on Selfishness:

President Spencer W. Kimball

“It all comes back to one word, doesn’t it: Selfishness” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 313).

“Every divorce is the result of selfishness on the part of one or the other or both parties to a marriage contract. Someone is thinking of self—comforts, conveniences, freedoms, luxuries, or ease. Sometimes the ceaseless pinpricking of an unhappy, discontented, and selfish spouse can finally add up to serious physical violence. Sometimes people are goaded to the point where they erringly feel justified in doing the things which are so wrong. Nothing, of course, justifies sin.

“The marriage that is based upon selfishness is almost certain to fail. The one who marries for wealth or the one who marries for prestige or social plane is certain to be disappointed. The one who marries to satisfy vanity and pride or who marries to spite or to show up another person is fooling only himself. But the one who marries to give happiness as well as receive it, to give service as well as to receive it, and who looks after the interests of the two and then the family as it comes will have a good chance that the marriage will be a happy one” (“Marriage and Divorce,” 148–49).

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“Selfishness so often is the basis of money problems, which are a very serious and real factor affecting the stability of family life. Selfishness is at the root of adultery, the breaking of solemn and sacred covenants to satisfy selfish lust. Selfishness is the antithesis of love. It is a cankering expression of greed. It destroys self-discipline. It obliterates loyalty. It tears up sacred covenants. It afflicts both men and women” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1991, 96; or Ensign, May 1991, 73).

Ideas to Overcome Selfishness:

Overcoming selfish tendencies is a challenging, stubborn goal, but a goal that can be achieved with some committed, focused action. Here are a few ideas:

*Others-Oriented Self-Talk. When making any choice that notably could affect another person, ask yourself some key questions inside relating to the other person’s welfare. For instance, you can practice asking yourself things like the following:

--“How would the other person feel about this?”
--“How would my actions affect someone else?”
--“How would I feel if the other person did this to me?”
--“What matters more: getting my way or considering others?”

After asking yourself these kinds of questions, give yourself answers that help you develop consideration, empathy, understanding, and sensitivity to others. If you determine making a choice will notably hurt another, don’t do it.

*Learn how to pray to receive the blessings of sensitivity, consideration, empathy, sacrifice, giving, charity, and respect towards others. A great resource to ask for spiritual help and get these results is contained step-by-step in the classic book, “Drawing on the Powers of Heaven” by Grant Von Harrison. Highly recommended. Remember that miracles are possible, and spiritual help is an essential avenue to develop sensitivity to others.

*Practice asking the other person in the relationship questions to understand and consider how they feel before, during, and after all matters that could notably affect them. Simply getting into the habit of asking and trying to understand where the other person is coming from goes a long way to not only considering where they are coming from, but these efforts also shows the other you are genuinely trying. And remember, getting along is usually more important than getting your way. That is, if you value keeping the relationship together.

Final Thoughts

The prophets have defined selfishness as the great destroyer of marriages. Beware of this problem and work to eliminate selfishness out of your relationship and life. Balance your needs and feelings with the other person. Make your future marriage succeed. Because "…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:11).

Dr. G

*To submit a question for a future Q & A column or to request a possible future article subject, contact me at
**Do you struggle with pornography or another addictive tendency? Do you struggle with eating issues or want to lose weight? Anxiety issues? Other issues, challenges, or problems? Consider my special custom hypnosis recording service for fellow LDS members only, available worldwide by online delivery. A powerful, effective, convenient tool for change. Learn more now at or email me questions at Completely private and confidential.

2018-07-02 Randy Gilchrist Healthy relationships

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About the author

Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (, practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at; email me questions to