Self-Control to Self-Giving


We all know that people with a capacity for self-control can accomplish amazing things in life – athletic prowess, academic excellence, financial independence, social revolution – pretty much anything worth doing in life benefits from a disciplined approach.

It’s the same with relationships. Marriage, parenting, friendships – they all do a whole lot better when the participants practice self-control and they all suffer in its absence. Here are five areas where self-control offers big payoffs in a marriage.

  1. Encourages careful verbal expression, helping to wisely choose an appropriate time to raise a difficult topic and respectful in the way we express our point of view. We’ve seen many marriages suffer when one spouse believes they have the ‘right’ to get anything and everything ‘off-his/her-chest’ whenever they felt like venting.
  2. Allows us to be prudent with our spending, carefully planning how to use our financial resources and respecting the values and goals of our spouse. It’s not uncommon for one spouse to be more financially cautious than the other, or to have different financial goals. Self-control enables us to embrace the values of our spouse and act in a way that respects them, even when personal investment in those values is less.
  3. Supports moderation in how we use our free time, encouraging us to be other-centred in the decisions we make. For example, the capacity to delay ‘relaxing in front of the TV’ in order to be present to a child struggling with homework or to help a spouse burdened by incomplete housework, makes for a deep sense of partnership.
  4. Self-control is essential when under stress or in conflictual situations, enabling us to refrain from hateful words and physical aggression. Too often, spouses inflict damaging insults on each other because they are unable to resist the temptation to score points against each other in an argument.
  5. Encourages self-mastery over our sexual expression, making us considerate and generous lovers as well as honouring our vow of fidelity. The lover who is able and willing to delay his/her own sexual gratification in order to attend to the needs of the spouse is expressing deep love.

Thinking about each of the five areas, rate yourself 0-10 in terms of how well you do in your marriage:

Unregulated    Highly Disciplined
VVerbal Expression  0…1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9…10
Financial Management  0…1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9…10
Time Management  0…1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9…10
Arguments & Stress  0…1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9…10  
Sexual Expression  0…1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9…10 

Choose one area to focus on and identify a concrete action you will take to develop your self-control in that area.

  • Eg, Verbal expression: I will ask my spouse if he/she is able to give me some time to talk rather than just talking AT him/her.
  • Eg, Time Management: I will limit the amount of time I spend on internet recreation to three hours a week.
  • Eg, Sexual Expression: I will keep my distance from the work colleague who I find sexually attractive and avoid temptation.

After one week, choose another focus, or another action to extend your capacity for self-control further.

Authors: Francine & Byron Pirola

What do you think? How does your self-control (or lack there-of) bring out the best in your relationship? Was this helpful to you? Fire away in the comments below! We’d love to hear them!

This article featured in the April 2013 edition of the CathFamily e-Magazine. For more from this edition, check out:

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Francine and Byron Pirola

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