How to Be Generous Instead of Selfish in Your Marriage

Are you being generous in your marriage or a doormat? Find out the difference, as well as how to be more generous in the best possible way at MM! #marriage #spouse #husband #wife #sacrifice #generous #boundaries #loving #Bible #verses #quotes #inspirational #inventory

I just knew that looking into this week’s focus—selfishness—would hurt! That’s because, when push comes to shove, I’ve often chosen to be selfish rather than generous with my mate. It would be easy for me to point to my upbringing as the somewhat spoiled youngest in my family.

My parents yielded to my way an awful lot of the time for various reasons. No disrespect intended!

Certainly, as an adult, I’m responsible for my choices and actions no matter how my childhood experiences shaped me. Much of the time, being selfish has won out because I’ve been afraid that giving to my spouse might enable bad behaviors or spoil him.

So before I dive into the inventory, I’d like to distinguish between being generous or sacrificial and acting like a doormat.

How Being a Doormat Differs from Being Sacrificial

A doormat chooses to keep the peace, especially if there might be fallout for you personally.

If you’re a sacrificial spouse, you know that being sacrificial doesn’t mean you’re required to sacrifice peace or integrity.

God calls us to lovingly confront when someone continues to sin against and take advantage of us. See Matthew 18:15 for proof.

A doormat feels obligated to give, rather than giving from the heart.

But, as a sacrificial spouse, you give to your mate from the reservoir of God’s love and generosity (Rom. 13:8; Eph. 5:21).

A doormat believes that turning the other cheek or doing good to those who hate you means completely turning your life and protection over to others.

The sacrificial spouse recognizes that there are healthy limits on how much you should give. So you always consider what’s responsible and caring for all who might be affected (Gal. 6:2-5).

How Sacrificial and Generous are You with Your Mate?

(Click Generous & Sacrificial Inventory to download). Hover over each Scripture to see where the questions spring from—scoring yourself using this grid: 1 never; 2 rarely; 3 sometimes; 4 often; 5 very often. 

1. I consistently avoid a competitive or superior attitude in marriage by generously giving to my spouse rather than trying to get something for myself (Phil. 2:3-4).

Unfortunately, I’m a “3” here, because I tend to be too competitive and sometimes too prideful. It’s probably because I’m somewhat insecure. But I have every reason to be the most secure person ever when I remember God loves me in spite of my pride and insecurities.

If this is a problem for you too, there might be a whole lot of arguing in your marriage or at least distance. No one wants to draw close to an “opponent” or a “know-it-all.” 

2. When my spouse receives something I’ve wanted, I don’t let this tempt me to envy him/her, but rather use this as an opportunity to praise and root for my mate (James 3:16).

Again, for me, this is a “3.” It’s that same ol’ competitive spirit wreaking havoc in my life and marriage.

If you struggle here, your spouse is likely missing out on the bond that can be felt when a joy is shared!

3. I’m keenly aware of how hard my spouse works and regularly look for opportunities to give to or serve him/her in some way (Prov. 11:25). 

Okay, this is getting embarrassing! Lol! I gave myself a “3” here too, even though I tend to do this more than numbers #1 and #2! Sadly, it’s still an area I need to improve on!

If you aren’t consistently doing this, your spouse may be growing resentful, especially if he/she is a very sacrificial person. Don’t wait till your mate finds someone else who will notice how hard he/she works!

4. I realize just how selfish I can be and work hard daily to counter this tendency by learning and applying God’s truths to my heart and life (Psalm 119:36).

Yay! I finally have one that I can rate myself a “5” for! 😉 But the credit all goes to God for a continual dose of conviction that comes as I daily study God’s word.

If you struggle here, the fix is simple—get into God’s word on a daily basis! Nothing will work to remove selfishness from your life better than God and His word!

5. When Christ asks me to sacrifice my interests and desires for my mate’s desires, I’m quick to follow my Savior’s lead out of gratitude to Him (Gal. 2:20).

This one is probably a “5” for me again, but only because I am a soft-touch with Jesus! When I sense He wants me to give more to Gary, I almost always hop to it!

If you struggle here, it might mean you’ve got more of a problem with Jesus than you do with your mate. Evaluate the spiritual condition of your heart.

6. I love my spouse as much as, or even more than, I love myself (Mark 12:31).

Aww, man! I was doing so well for the moment. ; ) But I’d say I’m a “3” here. Far too much of my heart is devoted to my own desires and concerns. 😦

If your feelings of love aren’t stronger, don’t grow frustrated. Get busy doing loving things, and the feelings will follow!

7. I work hard at being friendly and agreeable with my spouse, not for my sake but for my spouse’s sake (Prov. 18:1).

This one is probably a “3” for me, and my tendency to be selfish in this regard—how it benefits me—cannot be denied.

If you struggle here, change this up by being friendly and agreeable with your spouse out of your love for Christ. He’s the best Motivator there is!

8. I look out for my mate’s heart and desires first and foremost—not as a doormat, but out of my love for Christ (Rom. 12:10).

Again, “3” is all I get for this one! Too often I make things about me, until Christ convicts me. The transformation needs to come sooner—making this a worthy goal for me!

If you struggle here, look to God for His love. He will quickly extend love to you, so that you have more than enough to extend to your spouse.

9. When my desires conflict with my mate’s, I don’t push for my way, but rather make it a matter of prayer—trusting God to resolve the issue (James 4:1-3).

I was torn on this because I usually push for my way, but then usually surrender my desires to God. So maybe I’m a “4” on this one.

If you’re struggling here, get busy praying! You’ll be amazed at how soon this softens your heart toward your mate!

10. I’m always on the look out for a way to give to or do for my spouse because I know this, ultimately, blesses God (Luke 6:38).

Do I do this immediately or as often as I should? No. But God does motivate me quite often to bless my husband, so maybe I’m a “4.” Shwew! I’m so happy to be finishing on a slightly positive note! 😉

If you struggle here, remember that the best Motivator and Supplier of generosity in your life is God! Look to Him to supply all you need.

My application for this week will be to work on #8. I’m going to give to Gary, first and foremost, rather than worrying about protecting my interests. Click here to view/download the Generous/Sacrificial Inventory to know how to tabulate your overall score. Then choose one area of weakness to formulate an action point like I did and am!

Be sure to join me next week when I’ll be examining submission and unity in marriage. Click Insight for 2020 Series to find all the other posts in this series


What will you choose to work on this week in your life and marriage, and why?


What has made you choose selfishness at times in your life and marriage?

17 responses to “How to Be Generous Instead of Selfish in Your Marriage”

  1. Oh, Beth. I am afraid I was the spoiled youngest in my family too. I was used to getting my own way a lot. Selfishness is one area I need to work on in my marriage – still…after 41 years! My mom, while never a doormat, was one of the most generous people I ever knew. She was a wonderful example of how to behave in an unselfish way.

    I am going to save this inventory to remind myself of how an unselfish wife should behave! thank you.


    1. I love (!!) the explanation of doormat and sacrificial spouse! That really helped me understand and has been an ongoing topic of conversation between me and my friends. I definitely need to work on looking for opportunities to serve my husband better – thank you for the challenge!!


      1. Thank you so much, Erin! I do think it can be a confusing topic, especially among young moms who often take on the cares and concerns of everyone in their family! I hope you’re able to fulfill that goal! I’ll be praying that you can and do!


    2. Well, I’m glad about two things, Laurie. First, that I’m not alone in being a spoiled youngest, and second, that you had a great example of generosity in your mom! I do think we learn an awful lot about how to treat others from the way we were treated. So I be there’s more generosity in your attitude and actions than you might recognize. I think, just as selfishness is hard to spot in ourselves, so is generosity! 😉 Thanks for your encouraging words, my friend!


  2. Don’t know if I was self-absorbed
    when it came down to the test.
    Were her heartfelt needs ignored,
    or did I do my best
    to give to her the kind of life
    rightfully expected,
    that from the neighbours’ snarky knife
    was thoughtfully protected?
    Of did I simply blow it off,
    the need for reputation?
    Did I just do my thing and scoff
    from haughty elevation?
    It’s time to take myself to task,
    for answer’s known if I must ask.


    1. You bring up a good point, Andrew. It’s a hard but important question to ask not just of ourselves but of our spouses. That could have been a great question to include on the inventory–Do I ask my spouse to honestly tell me how I can give to them in meaningful ways or simply hope that I’m hitting the mark? I know I don’t ask often enough and certainly don’t fulfill that kind of desire of my husband’s often enough. Thanks for joining the conversation and adding a new perspective to the mix! Prayers sent on your behalf, my friend!


  3. I’m quite good at this nowadays, so I could give myself 4 or 5 for most of these — at least in the moment and in the run-up. I’m not so good at avoiding the waves of resentment that come afterwards (especially when my beautiful sacrificial attitude is not reciprocated!).


    1. You do seem and sound like a very generous person/spouse, David–from what I know of your life at a distance. And I join you in being not so good about the resentment piece either. I’ve talked about that here before. It’s a dangerous road to go down and one that I “think” I’m taking much less often. Still, these inventories are gutting me week after week! Lol! God’s got His healing scalpel out! Thank you for coming by and joining the conversation!


  4. This is so helpful! I think a lot of times I allow myself to be a doormat because I want to avoid conflict or fallout for myself. Thank you for your transparency in sharing your own scores. You’ve given me a lot to think about :).


  5. I am so blessed to be married to a wonderful loving man of God. I just reciprocate the way he treats me. I am so grateful to God for him. I love your quiz. It’s a great way to help us examine our hearts. Bless you ❤️


  6. Beth, I love how you wrote, “I’m responsible for my choices and actions no matter how my childhood experiences shaped me.” This is so true! So many people use those childhood experiences as a crutch. And you did an excellent job explaining the difference between being a doormat and being sacrificial. Thank you for your insight!


    Thank you for linking up at InstaEncouragements!


  7. I’m looking for ways to serve! I do it in ways that have become routine, but they are minimally sacrificial for me. Today he needed help with something (and I didn’t want to do it). But I didn’t say anything negative (yay!) and chose to do it just because it was a way to honor him.


  8. We’re such strange creatures! We would “take a bullet” in a heartbeat for our dearest ones, but don’t ask us to veer from our precious schedule!


  9. I’ve been so worn out lately that it’s been hard to prioritize making those sacrifices. Sigh. You give good advice here to distinguish between sacrifice and doormat.


  10. Another powerful marriage inventory, Beth. These are good for me even if I say “ouch” every time. 🙂 And I love how you distinguish between being sacrificial versus a doormat. It’s all about our heart motive. We were wired by the Creator to be sacrificial and generous, yet, we learn how to be selfish through our human nature and culture…”Look out for YOU, first!”


  11. […] myself a 3 on this one. That’s because I’m far too selfish and me-focused. Still working on that week’s emphasis! […]


  12. […] How to Be Generous Instead of Selfish in Your Marriage, Messy Marriage […]


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