HOW TO FIND CONTENTMENT IN MARRIAGE
Marriage was originally instituted to provide happiness, contentment, and companionship to mankind. When God saw that man was alone He said in Genesis 2:18, “…It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” In spite of God’s provision, it is clear that this is not always what happens.
Divorce rates are high, infidelity is common, and the fact that so many have chosen to unlawfully test relationships first by “living together” before making the full commitment of marriage shows that we often refuse to be content with what God has provided for our happiness.
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 are 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.
God has shown us ways to be contented in marriage in so many ways:
When husbands and wives are unhappy, we must remember that this is not how God wants it to be. Husbands are commanded to live contently with their wives. The wise man taught the husband to find satisfaction in his wife “at all times” and to be “enraptured by her love” (Prov. 5:15-20). Paul commanded husbands not “to be bitter toward” their wives but to love them (Col. 3:19).
Wives too are to be content with their husbands. Like husbands, wives are commanded to “love their husbands” (Titus 2:4). God told Eve after her sin “your desire shall be for your husband” (Gen. 3:16).
In Bible times many marriages were arranged. A woman’s choices were limited. That’s different now, but the charge to contentment is no different. Proverbs 31:18 describes the virtuous woman who serves her family, but we note that—“She perceives that her merchandise is good.” This may refer to the quality of the goods she makes or prepares, but I suspect it also refers to her attitude toward what she has.
She is not discontent with her husband, his provision for her, or the things she possesses. She sees them as “good.” That’s contentment.
The Bible also explained more on What Contentment really is in Marriage? How to define what it means to be content in our marriage relationships?
1. It is not acceptance with no desire for improvement. Christians are to, “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Heb. 10:24). This is true of our relationship to our spouse as it is true of our relationship with our brethren. We should constantly work for the improvement of one another, but this is not accomplished by…
• Bitterness. Remember, husbands, are commanded “do not be bitter” toward their wives (Col. 3:19).
• Nagging. The Holy Spirit declares, “A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike” (Prov. 27:15).
• Unfavorable comparisons. Paul taught that the speech of a Christian should be “good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Eph. 4:29). The husband or wives who would say to the other, “You sure aren’t like so, and so!” does not edify and does not impart “grace.”
• Withholding intimacy. The Holy Spirit commands husbands and wives not to withhold affection from one another except for times of prayer and fasting (1 Cor. 7:2-5). Using this close and tender element of a marriage relationship for manipulation and vindictiveness is wrong.
• Threats and violence. To threaten, “If you don’t do it my way, I’ll leave you!”—To tell a mate, “If you do that you won’t touch me for a month!”—To raise a hand against a companion is sinful, contemptible, and unjustifiable!
• Talking bad about one another. The virtuous woman was said to have had the trust of her husband because “She does him good and not evil all the days of her life” (Prov. 31:12). We do not help a mate to better by spreading gossip about his or her shortcomings to any who will listen.
Instead, we truly help each other do better by calm, objective communication with one another. We help by positive reinforcement of good qualities and actions, and loving patients help to overcome behavior that is wrong. Husbands and wives must continue their courtship of one another. Paul taught that husbands and wives seek to please one another (1 Cor. 7:33-34). This can’t end when the vows are said! We may also say of contentment.
2. It is a cheerful adaptation to a situation even if it cannot be changed. Paul taught that the Christian, by his relationship with Christ may find contentment in all circumstances (Phil. 4:10-13). This must pertain to circumstances within marriage as well. When improvement cannot be accomplished contentment must be a quality within us rather than some ideal situation in which to live.
This is a world of tribulation and hardship (John 16:33). If that must characterize our marriages, the Christian is in a unique position to be able to bring good things out of very difficult circumstances.
In life and in marriage, contentment is a virtue that is far too rare!