This isn’t a pleasant topic to write about, but if each of us addresses this with a focused, dogged commitment it can transform our marriages. Whether your marriage is strong and healthy or on the brink of collapse this message is one that every married person needs to read and use as an ongoing self-assessment and correction.
In our work with couples—and in our own marriage—the root of our struggles is found in the struggle with an over-estimation of ourselves. It’s pride, or as Merriam-Webster defines it: “inordinate self-esteem.”
What Pride Creates
The dark side of pride sows the seed for the weeds of conflict to take root and spread through a marriage. The Bible says that “Pride only breeds quarrels” (Proverbs 13:10a). If it pride is left unchecked, it can eventually lead to an absolute loss of intimacy, communication, and connection between a husband and wife. Ultimately its tendrils can choke the life out of a marriage and cause the end of the marriage. As King Solomon wrote, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).
- Pride is revealed in an “I’m right and you’re wrong” theme in a relationship.
- Pride is demonstrated in verbal cuts and put-downs to elevate or set-apart the aggressor.
- Pride is a driver of entitlement. It reveals an “I don’t deserve this, so I deserve to compensate with that.”
- Pride is centered on self and rarely serves another unless there is self-interest involved. (i.e. “If I’m nice today perhaps we can make love tonight” or “If I say nice things, perhaps I can purchase ___.”)
The First Step of Humility
Humility is the anti-pride. The apostle Paul wrote, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
So how can you tell if pride has taken root? By asking:
Ask God. Sincerely say a simple request to God. You might pray something like, “Father, you said that your Spirit is the Spirit of truth. I’m asking that your Spirit would reveal to my awareness any areas in my marriage or life where I have allowed pride to reign.” Then be still before God for a few minutes. You may want to have a paper and pen handy to write down anything He brings to mind.
Ask your spouse. Set it up. Tell them that you want to live humbly in your marriage. Ask them to think and pray about any area in your life where you have allowed pride to take root and affect your marriage. Then listen. Don’t defend yourself or explain why they are wrong. Simply listen, say thank you, and ask, “Would you please forgive me?”
Addressing Our Pride
Remember: your response is your responsibility and this is true when it comes to learning humility. Take the pride list that God revealed to you. One by one, go through each item and agree with God that it is sin (confession) and ask for His help in treating your spouse—and others—as better than yourself. If you read all of Philippians 2 in the Bible you’ll read how Jesus modeled this for you.
Of course there is a healthy esteem one can have. You ARE dearly loved! Jesus DID die for you! You ARE a child of God! So take the steps of humility as you reflect Christ and build your marriage!