Being Selfish Is the Secret to a Happy & Long Marriage

Love & Learn 6

elderly coupleI recently read a post by Seth Adam Smith who, after a year and a half of marriage, has declared that marriage is not for you. He says it's not something you do to make yourself happy. This declaration struck me as odd because, at least in some part, marriage is for you. When you marry someone, you are not doing him or her a favor to your own detriment, and if that’s what you think, then you probably shouldn’t be getting married to that person or maybe anyone, for that matter.

Smith says his father shared this piece of wisdom with him when he was having second thoughts about getting married:

Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.

While I believe that we marry the person who we want to spend the rest of our lives with -- waking up to, kissing good night, raising children, loving and weathering the hard times with -- I believe we choose for us. We choose someone who will make us happy, most of the time.

The person we can tolerate when we can’t tolerate anyone else. I have expectations of my marriage. I expect unconditional love always; at my best and at my worst. I expect a soft place to land when I fall. I expect a shoulder to cry on. Arms to hold me when the pain of the world is too heavy to bear. I expect someone to listen when I need to talk and understand when I make no sense. I expect everything and I give absolutely everything in return.

Smith goes on to say that he has realized that,

No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?”, while Love asks, “What can I give?"

I don’t know if I agree that true love is never about you; it has to be sometimes because if you don’t care about your own needs and wants, how is anyone else supposed to?

Love is not about keeping track of who does what for whom, who is giving and who is receiving. Marriage is about loving. Picking up the slack when your partner needs you to. It’s about lifting your partner up with your words and actions. It’s giving completely and knowing that you are receiving everything you ever need when you need it.

Marriage is about never being alone; in your joy or your misery. I married my husband because he made me a better person, made my life better. With him in it, my life is a better version of what it would have been with anyone else and I’d like to think his is too.

We both got a partner whom we love and they love us back unconditionally. It is a partnership in life, parenthood, and a best friend. It's not about marrying the person who just benefits you the most. It’s the privilege of spending your life loving someone who loves you back just as hard.

What do you think the goal of marriage should be?

Image via Candida Performa/Flickr



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Valerie Metzger

I think you're absolutely right. I do feel that it could potentially work in a marriage, the problem is both people in the relationship would have to start living this, and that's not always realistic. No one is perfect. If you give EVERYTHING to and for your partner, and they're not doing the same, your needs will not be met, and you will end up empty, not fulfilled.

nonmember avatar riffage

scab trying to latch onto the publicity the other article recieved.

Andre... Andreamom001

I think in an ideal marriage, each person seeks to love (the verb) the other person, build them up, make them feel cherished, serve them, etc.  If the wife is focused on doing what she can to make her husband's life better, and the husband is focused on doing what he can to make his wife's life better, there is no need for selishness!  Communicate, be honest, make your needs known, and the other does his/her best to meet them.

No other person can make you happy.  If you look for that, you will end up divorced and looking for someone else to make you happy.  You don't have to lose yourself or deny who you are in order to put your spouse first in the marriage, and it doesn't mean you have to pretend you have no needs.  It doesn't mean you never ask for what you need, either.

nonmember avatar yinka

And that ladies and gentlemen is the difference between men and women. A man teaches his son to give and this woman is trying to teach her sisters to take. I dont think a marriage where one person thinks "give" and the other thinks "take" can last very long. it is when both parties think "give" that everything works.

nonmember avatar Peter Pan

I agree with both Deborah and Smith- you're in essence saying the same thing- one is from the man's point of view, and the other from the woman's of view. A woman comes into a marriage expecting to be 'loved unconditionally'; who do you think is going to do all that loving- the man. And that was what his father was trying to tell him. 'I married my husband because he made me a better person'- sure sounds like your husband is doing what Smith's dad advised.

While I'm not saying that women don't give or do anything in marriage. Traditionally and also in modern times there certain things women expect a man to do in a relationship- from flowers, to paying for dinner dates and unexpected gifts of love that a reasonable man shouldn't expect in return.

nonmember avatar Peter Pan

If you heard a man say: I want a wife who will make me happy. If I don't think about myself who will. I want a woman who will love me unconditionally. I want a wife who will make me a better person. I want a wife I can tolerate when I can't tolerate anyone else and all the other stuff you said about yourself. What would you think of him? Regardless of how much women say they want to be equal- due to their choices/needs many gender roles are still alive today simply because women will have it no other way.

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