118 Beyond Your Wedding Day Podcast-What To Do When Your Spouse Is Selfish

by mike on June 5, 2013

118 Beyond Your Wedding Day Podcast-What To Do When Your Spouse Is Selfish

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In this episode of the Beyond Your Wedding Day Podcast, we discuss chapter 15 “Resolving Conflict With A Boundary-Resistant Spouse” from the book “Boundaries in Marriage” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.

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 Boundaries aren’t always welcome in a marriage

*People who like to control others or who are irresponsible usually are not going to be big fans of boundaries

*It will be a stretch for these types of spouses to start accepting boundaries in their marriage, but it will bear much fruit in the end!

*There is a big difference between saying “this boundary thing is going to be hard” and saying “I will not accept this whole boundaries thing”

It generally causes large amounts of stress on a marriage when one spouse refuses to “play along”

A boundary resistant spouse generally has an attitude of life that they should be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want

Sometimes a spouse may just be ignorant of their selfishness

A boundary-loving spouse will change their behavior when it is pointed out to them in a loving way

Be careful not to become a holier-than-though spouse if your spouse is the boundary-resister

*You have to show mercy to your spouse

*You could be doing things such as pretending that everything is all right, not speaking the truth, being emotionally absent, not following up on consequences, nagging, being passive aggressive, and many other things that make you not perfect

There are multiple causes of boundary resistance

Empathetic Failure

*Sometimes people just have a lack of being able to see what their actions do to others

*They often don’t do feelings much at all in their lives, they are much more rational and logic

*The best way to open your spouse up to these feelings is to say things such as “I feel______ when you ________.”


*This is generally blaming someone else for their problems or failures

*For example, a husband who bounces around from job to job (not being able to provide for his family) constantly blames the boss, the job itself, etc. for his failure

*This person needs supportive, but firm people around him (like a Bible study group)

Control of others

*This person tries to manipulate , control, or dominate their spouse at all times

*Passively aggressive behavior such as pouting or blaming the other person for their own problems

–Such as a spouse saying that her husband going out with his friends every once in awhile means he is unloving

*Aggressiveness such as yelling, threatening, etc. is an extreme example of this control

Denial of imperfection

*Refuse to admit weaknesses or faults

*These spouses may:

-Deny they have crossed a boundary “I didn’t yell at you.  I never yell.”

-Rationalize or minimize the offense: “I didn’t yell at you, I just raised my voice.  You’re overreacting.”

-Blame the spouse: “You frustrate me so much that I have to yell.”

-Reverse the issue: “But what about how much you yell?”


*For example, a husband may go buy a boat to teach his wife what its like to overspend all of the time

*This never works


*This is when you transfer your problems with other relationships onto your marriage relationship

-For example: your father was always super critical, so you get very touchy when your spouse brings up anything remotely critical

If it’s not just ignorance, but a character issue, you have a lot of work to do

*DON’T deny or minimize the situation if it is a significant boundary problem.

*DON’T ignore the situation, hoping it will get better or go away

*DON’T become more compliant and pleasing, hoping love will fix everything.

*DON’T nag.

*DON’T be constantly surprised at your spouse’s behavior.

*DON’T blame.  Very few times are problems in marriage all on one spouse

*DON’T take total ownership of the problem.

**The things you should do we will discuss next time!

Would you like to work with Mandy and Mike one on one?  Check out the Beyond Your Wedding Day Marriage Prep Course.

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