SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, coaches Kim Giles and Nicole Cunningham explain the real cause of selfishness in a relationship and how to change it. Question: My wife and I can’t seem to get along. No matter how hard I try to please her, she […]

I found this today from well known relationship coach Kim. One of the aspects of every relationship, be in marriage or any other relationship, is that one partner inevitably believes the other is being selfish. It’s a trick dynamic, as many times both partners believe the other is the selfish one. Sometimes this means the “fix” is difficult to negotiate.

Below I’ve taken the best bits of the article to summarizes Coach Kims argument:

Coach Kim: Is selfishness the problem in your relationship?

Question:

My wife and I can’t seem to get along. No matter how hard I try to please her, she says I am selfish with my choices. I am unaware of how my behavior is selfish and have taken great offense to being called this by her again and again. We have been married eight years and I am afraid this may be something we can’t come back from I’m feeling very resentful. Frankly, I think that she is the selfish one, only concerned with herself. Can you give us any advice?

Answer:

It is hard to feel safe and have good connection in a relationship if you feel your partner is only concerned with their own needs and is not showing up for you. Most of us tend to pull back and focus on ourselves when we feel this too, which means we can become selfish. This is a recipe for disaster in a marriage, because if everyone is focused on what they aren’t getting — no one is giving anything.

The question you must ask yourself is how much of the time are you thinking about what you aren’t getting and how often are you focused on meeting your spouse’s needs and giving to them? (The right answer is not what you might think. Being totally focused on the other person isn’t healthy either. It’s co-dependent and this creates problems in relationships too.) The right answer is to have a good equal balance between taking care of yourself and showing up for your spouse.

Having said that, most of the time selfishness can be fixed if you both recognize your fears of failure and loss, and learn how to get out of them. We believe many of us withdraw when we are triggered by the fear of failure in a relationship, as we feel it’s safer to be alone and protect ourselves, especially if we receive criticism or feedback that is negative.

Many of us are ill equipped with how to see behavior accurately, communicate and ask for what we need in our marriage in a healthy way. Instead, we create hidden expectations that our spouse is supposed to fulfill. When we don’t communicate them well and they aren’t met, we may end up disappointed and even angry at our spouse. Where does the fault really lie for this? We believe it takes two scared people to create this dynamic, so you both have some work to do.

Here are Coach Kim’s best ideas and advice for the selfishness paradigm:

1. Make time and space for some loving conversations and ask your partner how you could show up better for them. Let them ask you for what they need. Ask, ‘Honey, in what way can I support you right now and make you feel more loved?’ Ask your spouse this weekly.

Logical and normal. You must communicate

2. Make a rule that neither of you will bring up past bad behavior, but focus only on the good behavior you want and need moving forward.

Look forward, not backwards

3. Pick one thing to work on doing to love your spouse better this week.

Don’t be a scatterbrain, focus is key

4. When you feel the triggers of self-pity, criticism or fear show up, remember your value can’t change and is the same no matter what and this is just this week’s lesson the universe has provided to give you a chance to practice being more wise and loving. We are on this planet to grow and learn. We believe you and your spouse can help each other grow to become more mature, wise, strong and loving.

Believe you can and will make it better, and move into that special realm of the relationship!