The Emotionally Entitled Spouse

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We are all well aware of financial entitlement, but have you ever considered that some have an issue with emotional entitlement? You may also not be aware that this sense of emotional entitlement can cause great difficulties in any marriage or premarriage relationship.

 

Where Does Entitlement Come From?

 

It is very difficult to come from a place of financial neediness and not have some type of an expectation that others should be helping you. I know that I had to deal with this is my own heart as a young man in my twenties.

It is also rather difficult to come from a place of emotional neediness and desperation and not develop an expectation that those around you should be meeting those needs. In fact, we actually see many forms of this in the Bible, and it is interesting to see that, when this occurs, it always leaves a sense of tension on the scene.

When Lazarus died, Martha was overcome with grief. Consequently, we see her coming to Christ almost accusing him of tardiness and incompetence (John 11:21). Interestingly enough, this scene leads to one of the few places in the scriptures where Jesus wept (John 11:35).

In Matthew 20:12, we see the laborers in the vineyard come to their master with a sense of entitlement and demanding a raise. It is intriguing to see that their sense of need combined with a certain amount of expectancy led to a verbal altercation of sorts with the master of the vineyard.

 

A Destructive Formula

 

I have found that this little formula usually plays out when there are difficulties in any marriage or premarriage relationship: Desperation + Expectation = Altercation.

When someone combines the desperation in their hearts with an expectation for others to meet that need, an altercation usually ensues.

 

A Wake Up Moment For Me

 

It was a wake up moment for me to realize that though my wife and I have Biblical responsibilities toward one another, she is not responsible to meet my deepest emotional needs. Only God can do that.

However, in many a marriage, people enter with deep emotional needs and combine that with an expectation that the other should meet those needs. Consequently, the above mentioned formula eventually plays out. That is, it does not take too long for a sense of neediness to be mixed with a certainly level of expectancy which always leads to fights, arguments, and hurt feelings.

As spouses, we are to love one another, but our love toward one another is only so effective and satisfying. This is why we teach in chapter one of our marriage book that satisfied people have satisfied marriages, and only God can meet those deep emotional needs that are often prevalent in our hearts.

 

How To Spot Entitlement

 

You can spot entitlement a mile away if you look out for the right word.

Emotionally entitled people often use the word “should”. That is, they often take even Christian teachings and use them as a means to their own end by saying things like:

 

  • You should be loving me.
  • You should be showing me more respect.
  • You should learn how to better validate me.
  • You should be more aware of my needs.

 

Though these things are all important aspects of a good marriage, there is a sense where the needy spouse has a way of mandating these entitlements through anger, temper tantrums, carefully constructed arguments, and even the quoting of scripture.

 

Why Counseling Has Not Worked For Some

I am convinced that this is why many have read good books and sought out great counsel only to come up short in solving their marriage issues. They have taken what I call five smooth stones only to put them in a sling of hurt in that all the counseling in the world will not help if a person fails to find inner satisfaction through the great physician of the soul, Jesus Christ.

 

Food for thought – Dr. Force

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