Tag Archives: Family of Origin

Take Off the Blindfold: Is Your Selfishness Destroying Your Relationship?

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When you think about the word selfish, certain images (or people) probably come to mind.  I want to take a few moments and address selfishness in terms that you may not have considered before.  Where does it come from? How early does it begin to take root? Can something be done about it?  Let’s draw out the aspects of selfishness and develop a different perspective of its meaning through a brief scenario.

Imagine a child about two years old, with no discernible expression on his face. He sits quietly in a corner watching the hustle and bustle of the room around him. Father comes into the room, looks at his watch, then sits on the couch. The child rises and moves toward his father, arms outstretched. The father suddenly remembers the task that needed to be completed before he rushed off to work. Up he bounces, moving quickly past the child.

The child’s expression is distinctly noticeable now. His big brown eyes look sad as he lowers his arms and whimpers quietly. His eyes light up as he notices Mother, who has stepped out of the bedroom. His arms extend once more, craving a hug, some sort of affection from his mother. She stands by the couch and continues chatting on her cell phone. She proceeds down the hall into the darkness, as if not even noticing the child. The child’s arms and head both lower. He drops to the floor and sits quietly. Can you imagine what the child is feeling at this moment?

Dad is very involved in his work, keeping food on the table and a roof over the family’s head. Mother wants to do better, but Dad is so obsessed with his work that she has sole responsibility of the household, to say nothing of the fact that she too holds down a job. It’s tough to make ends meet these days. In fact, Dad is so caught up in his work, spending time with his guy friends, and keeping up with the latest sports scores that Mom feels neglected. His lack of attention makes her feel unattractive.

As time goes by, Mother becomes more irritable and less interested in making the marriage a go. She certainly can’t do it by herself. She can feel everything slowly slipping away. Some of  her downtime leads her to partake in a drink or two. This is a convenient way of numbing the pain. The frequency of her drinking increases as her disillusionment increases. Everyone is so caught up in themselves that there doesn’t seem to be much time for that poor child. All he wants is some love and affection, the security of someone who cares.

The family behaviors continue through the years. The little boy continues to reach out to his parents for that love in a variety of ways. Nothing seems to change for the long term so the child, now ten, comes to accept his fate. He begins to close off. He stops expecting. Many of you can feel for that child and understand his plight. Some of you may be able to relate on a very personal level.

How do you think this process develops over the years?  What do you think this dynamic looks like in adult relationships, in marriage? Do you think that it is important to adjust your perceptions of the adult world as you transcend your childhood upbringing?

A failure to update your script results in a child’s need for self-sufficiency in order to overcome the pain of not receiving what you were entitled to as you were growing up (love, affection, nurturing and affirmation, hugs, acceptance etc.) turning into adult selfishness. When I say adult selfishness, I  mean that you still view the world through your childlike perceptions.

In a marriage it is essential to develop an attitude of selflessness. Let’s take a few moments and think about the state of your current relationship. It’s easy to say that when we are steeped in turmoil and conflict that the entire problem is the other person’s fault. Perhaps your spouse has done some things that have hurt you very deeply. You are two different people and you are bound to do things that ruffle one another’s feathers. Fact is, it takes two people to make or break a marriage. It’s an issue of dynamics. I want you to meditate before the Lord and be honest. Ask Him to show you the areas in which you have helped to create or facilitate the current dynamics of your marriage. This will be a demonstration of taking responsibility for your part in moving the relationship in the direction it is currently. Taking responsibility is a major step toward change and healing, it is also a step toward growing beyond our own selfishness.

You’ll find more insights, exercises and techniques to work through selfishness in Marriage By Design which can be ordered through Amazon.com and B&N.com, more information available on this site.

You will be blessed as you grow your marriage.

©2017 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted. 

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Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Family of Origin, Misconceptions, Selfishness, selflessness

Let God Fill the Gap


When children come into the world their primary emotional need is the love and affection of their caregivers, their mother and father. Unfortunately, all too often in my counseling career, when sitting down with a young man, one scenario repeats itself. When I ask “Did your father love you?” they look quizzical as they contemplate the question. “Well, sure. My dad always made sure that we had a roof over our heads. Gosh, he worked all the time. I wish he’d had more time to go to my baseball games, but he did what he needed to do. We never went wanting. Yeah, it would have been nice if he had been home more often, but, hey, what are you going to do? You can’t have everything, right?”

I repeat the question. “Take a minute, there is no rush to answer. I asked you if your dad loved you.” The pause that occurs as they contemplate the question for a second time is quite telling. All too often the response cycle goes something like this. A look of confusion, as if to wonder why I asked the question again. They often look down for a moment. The message is sinking deeper. A look of slight anger registers on their face; next comes sadness, then the realization. Now they really understand the question.

I’ve gone through years of psychology classes. I understand the theory. I know why counselors and therapists are told to maintain a healthy distance from those they counsel—I get that. As the tears of realization flow from the eyes of the biggest, proudest, toughest guys you might imagine, I am not worried about containing myself. They need to understand that I understand, and more importantly that God understands. On many occasions I share in the grief and loss they experience in that moment of time—the moment they recognize that the need for love was never met. At which point my goal is to get them realigned with the Father who never ignored them, nor left them.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.          -John 3:16

What is evidenced in that scripture is this: God loves you and wants nothing more than to spend eternity with you!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Family of Origin, Grief, Parenting, Restoration