Pride is the poison that kills relationships
According to the dictionary pride is a “high inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.” People can be proud of their looks, their family background, their academic achievements, their careers, their material possessions, etc. However, pride is not limited to those who have the things listed above; there are people without anything special who are still very proud. Whist the opposite of pride is humbleness, somehow it is even possible to be proud of being humble.
The Word of God says that “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” – Proverbs 16:18. When it comes to relationships it can be said that “pride goes before the destruction of a relationship, and haughty spirit before a fall of marriage.” When we look at the origin of sin we realise that pride was at the centre of it all. The same can be said about the origin of many marital conflicts. The Bible tells us that the marriage institution is where two people become one. This suggests that instead of focusing on personal selfish interests married people are to prioritise their marriage and focus on furthering the interest of their union. It is therefore obvious that the greatest threat to this unity will be pride, self-confidence, self-exalting, self-protecting pride. Pride is the source or the poison that is responsible for the death of many marriages.
The impact of pride on people and relationships
- Pride makes people to feel more important than others. Pride has a way of inflating people’s egos. In marriage this attitude results in a one sided relationship. The proud person often feels that he/she deserved much more in life and somehow he/she has done the other a favour by marrying her/him. Therefore, the other person must be the one who must submit, plead and beg for the relationship to continue.
- Pride makes people to feel independent and self-sufficient. In marriage the attitude can be describe by this statement: “I don’t need you, I was fine before I met you and I will be fine even when you are gone”. This attitude has a major impact on marital commitment. The reason why people get marriage in the first place is that they feel that need each other and their lives will be incomplete without each other.
- Pride makes people to be self-righteous and critical of others. This is when one person has become the standard for all that is good and all that is acceptable. The life and conduct of the spouse is measured against this ‘perfect’ standard of behaviour. This often results in the person being overly critical of his/her spouse. The spouse can never do anything right, and therefore nothing that they do will ever be appreciated.
- Pride makes people feel the need to be right all the time. I once heard someone say: “When I got marriage I was looking for ‘Mr Right’, but what I didn’t know was that his first name was ‘Always’”. The problem with being always right in marital conflicts is that the other person must always be “wrong”. The obsession with being right at all times makes it very difficult to resolve even the smallest of conflicts. The fact is that as human beings we are infallible and therefore we can’t be right at all times. As people we make mistakes and even with our best intentions we still do something that we didn’t intend to do.
- Pride makes people defensive when criticized. It does not matter what position we might occupy in society we all need people who can give us an honest assessment of our conduct. Criticism, whether positive or negative, has a way of making us better people. Criticism works like sandpaper; it removes rough edges and leaves us smooth and polished. Criticism particularly from one’s spouse need to be taken more serious since it is often honest, unlike the flattery words that we might receive from others. It is unfortunate that often pride stands on the way of all of this. The person who has pride views criticism as personal attack and therefore decides to be defensive. This attitude not only creates conflicts in the family but the person who is proud end up not receiving the help that he/she need.
- Pride makes it hard to apologize when you are wrong. A word of apology in the family is like a fire extinguisher to many conflicts. It does not cost a person anything (except one’s pride) to say the six magical words: “I am sorry, please forgive me.” But to one who suffers from pride these words are very expensive. Some would rather die or lose the spouse / friend instead of offering an apology. Many marriages have being destroyed and brought to the end because one person is too proud to use the six magical words.
For those who have a challenge of pride there is a need for you to kill pride before it kills your relationships and alienate you from people who loves you. Here are some suggestions on how to do so:
- Ask the Lord to make you humble (as Christ was)
- Take your eyes off yourself and look at others, you’ll see value in others.
- Talk less about yourself and your accomplishments
- Go out of you way to appreciate and to say good things about others
- Respect other people’s views and opinions even if you disagree with them