Contentment in Marriage and Life

 

Usually when we consider the topic of contentment, we think of money and materialism. However, the concept extends to many other areas of life, including marriage. While most Bible references on contentment deal with the topic of wealth and possessions (i.e. Mat. 6:24-33, Phil. 4:11-13, 1 Tim. 6:5-11, Heb. 13:5-6), the same principles certainly apply to our attitude about life circumstances in general. Marriage is among the most important areas in which we must reflect this principle.

To be content simply means to be mentally and emotionally satisfied with the way things are. Someone who is content is willing to accept the current circumstances with peace of mind. People who are discontent in their marriage usually make themselves and their spouses miserable. Such people are never satisfied with what they have and are always wanting, expecting or even demanding more. Instead of recognizing the positive aspects of their spouse and marriage they focus on the negatives. Instead of expressing appreciation and encouragement they express criticism and resentment.

One does not need a perfect marriage (which does not exist) in order to be content. But a positive attitude and outlook is required. Begin by counting your blessings and not taking them for granted. While some problems must be addressed in a marriage they are best approached from a position of general contentment rather than that of perpetual displeasure or misery. People respond best to positive reinforcement and encouragement – your spouse is no different.

All things considered, marital contentment is a virtue that is far too rare. It is certainly much easier to indulge in self pity and regret than it is to develop mental and emotional satisfaction in one’s relationship. When considering this topic the common question that arises is “how can I become content in my marriage?”

The Apostle Paul stated that he “learned” to be content (Philippians 4:11). The fact that he had to learn this principle tells us that it is not something that comes instinctively or naturally. If contentment were merely a feeling, it would not be something one needs to learn. It appears, therefore, that contentment is both a choice and a discipline. It involves commitment and determination. You will only be content in your marriage to the extent that you will yourself to do so.

A significant aspect of marital contentment is learning to avoid the seeds of discontent. Here are some tips to consider…

(1) Do not evaluate your marriage by comparing it to others. Scripture tells us that those who compare themselves to others are not wise (2 Corinthians 10:2). Nothing good can come of such comparisons because the perspective is always skewed and unrealistic. Such a mentality will also cause you to squander the opportunities that are present in your relationship.

(2) Shun coveting and envy. These are biblical vices that can destroy a marriage. In other words, you must avoid the all-too-natural inclination to desire the attainments or advantages of others. With respect to marriage, you must avoid the temptation to wish that your spouse was more like someone else or to desire some aspect of your relationship to be like that of your neighbors’.

(3) Adopt a simpler lifestyle. Complicated and stressful lives breed discontent. Sometimes we can get so busy that we do not stop to appreciate and enjoy what is right in front of us. When you are bombarded by external pressures it is not difficult for your unhappiness to carry over to the home. Do yourself a favor and relieve yourself of unnecessary obligations and commitments that weigh you down. You will enjoy your life and family more.

Kirk VanOoteghem serves as Executive Pastor of River of Life in Muncie, Indiana.  He has many years of experience as a marriage counselor and educator and is the founder of MarriageMoment.org – an online ministry dedicated to protecting and strengthening marriages.

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