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Stubborn, Immature, Selfish Jerks
March 31, 2011 Marriage

Disclaimer:  I am not married to a stubborn, immature, selfish jerk, though I may be one on occasion.
Love you Angel.

Angry Woman

For my first post I want to talk about the most difficult thing to deal with in any marriage and that’s a spouse that chooses to be a stubborn, immature, selfish jerk.  In future postings, we’ll borrow from Dr. Emerson Eggrichs book Love and Respect (affiliate link), and categorize this type of spouse as a non-good-willed spouse, as opposed to a good-willed spouse that is interested in personal and marital growth.  A non-good-willed spouse is a spouse that chooses not to take responsibility for their part in the marital issues.  They will provide excuses, justifications and plenty of blame for others, particularly their spouse, but will take little to no responsibility themselves.

How does one determine if there is a stubborn, immature, selfish jerk in their marriage?  Well, think about the troubles you have in your marriage and how you personally handle them and contribute to them.  Now think about the troubles in your marriage and how your spouse handles and contributes to them.  Now, if you were unable to take any personal responsibility for the troubles in your marriage but applied a long list of responsibilities for your spouse then you are probably the stubborn, immature, selfish jerk in your marriage.

I want to point out that the vast majority of marriage books make the assumption that there are two mature adults in the marriage.  Very few books deal with the difficult subject of being married to a stubborn, immature, selfish jerk.  If you are looking for strategies in coping with being married to a stubborn, immature, selfish jerk first I’d suggest counseling.  Either marital counseling or, if the stubborn, immature, selfish jerk won’t go, then personal counseling.  While I’ve never read the book (it’s on the list) I’ve heard that Boundaries in Marriage (affiliate link) by Henry Cloud and John Townsend offer solid strategies for dealing with this difficult situation.

I’m sorry but you cannot change your spouse.  The only person you can change is yourself.  If you continue to respond and react to your spouse in the same ways they are likely to continue to react and respond to you in the same way as well.  What you have control over is your actions, reactions and responses.  If you continue doing what you are doing, you will continue to get what you are getting.


One of the things I know for certain is that there is no perfect spouse.  As a Christian, with a Christian worldview, I believe that every single marriage has at least two sinners in the marriage.  No more.  No less.  If you are one of those sinners and you are willing to take responsibility for yourself, your actions and your re-actions, and you are ready to personally work toward a more mature response toward the issues and conflict in your marriage then you are on the right track for personal and marital growth and can consider yourself a good-willed spouse.

It’s time for us to grow up and take personal responsibility for our marital relationship.

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"1" Comment
  1. Thank you.
    I keep hearing that I can only change myself. My wife just doesn’t seem to understand that we can develop our marriage. I spend hours reading marriage blogs and writing down things I could do or say but when it comes to actually saying something I don’t seem to be able to get started. We’ve been like this for so long (nearly 3 decades) that our way of relating has become ingrained and in my heart of hearts I don’t believe anything can change which is pretty depressing.
    The encouragements I am currently thinking about are:
    1) that change happens together as we talk together prayerfully (rather than barging in telling my wife what needs to change)
    2) there is no non-communication in marriage. (I like that) because everything we do or say communicates something
    3) I’m challenged by your strap line – we’re either growing together or apart. (Ouch!)
    4) This one is what I took away from 6 months of personal counselling: Cement the feeling of being enjoyed by God.

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