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The Anti-Narcissist Spouse 

On my grandfather’s 60th wedding anniversary, I asked him “What one piece of advice would you give husbands to make sure their marriages last and thrive?” He looked at me, smiled and said, “Brad, just do what she says.”

I laughed, but as I reflected, I saw his wisdom. Marriages thrive when humility reigns and service is prominent. Marriages break down with pride and selfishness.

I listened to a Ted Cunningham sermon recently.  He said that his mentor told him he had three words that would make all his marriage books and sermons useless.  Those words are “Don’t be selfish.”

If spouses carried that out, marriage problems would wither. Try waking up in the morning and considering your spouse’s needs and wants over yours all day. Then, see how much your marriage struggles.

Plus, you’ll find yourself happier serving and blessing your spouse than hoping your spouse will serve and bless you. The words of Matthew 10:39 will prove true, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will gain eternal life.”

We are in a find yourself, improve yourself, be fulfilled, bless yourself,  and find-your-voice culture. The Gospel is a lose yourself, fulfill others, bless others, and listen to others’ voices message.

A narcissist is defined as “a person who has an excessive interest or admiration of themselves.” We are repelled by narcissists but live in a culture that encourages us to focus more and more on ourselves and our happiness.  Don’t become what you hate. Instead, lay your life down for others as Christ laid His life down for you.

Now, I get it, we have flesh, and this isn’t easy. When Marilyn tells me to do something, my natural reaction isn’t just going full-send-all-in to bless her. It is to put it off, make excuses or do something else. But we are called to live in the Spirit and not in the flesh.

Jesus didn’t love us and die for us because we treated Him so well. In fact, He was ridiculed, betrayed, tortured, and nailed to a wooden cross. So, if we are to love one another as we have been loved, we are to love our spouse even when our spouse is having a bad day.

Now, I do want to make something clear: This does not mean you tolerate abuse or infidelity. In these situations, prioritize protection and get help. Plus, it doesn’t mean avoiding issues. Often, the best thing you can do for your marriage and your spouse is to courageously address hard issues.

Remember, Jesus came “to serve, not to be served.” So, listen to my Granddad and serve your spouse. Consider their interests over yours. Then, power struggles will be replaced with a battle to “outdo one another in giving honor.” Romans 12:10.

I heard it said in that sermon I referenced and elsewhere, “You’ll know you are a servant when you don’t mind being treated like one.”

So, accept the amazing sacrifice and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Marinate in the depth and width of his love. Then, offer this love to your spouse and the world.

If you’d like to join us in investing in marriages, visit us at and get the book, The Grace Marriage and go through it with your spouse.