Contentment: A Key to Keeping Your Love Alive
- Monday, April 27, 2009
My computer has been limping along, half broken for a while now. It has an internal electrical problem and shuts off whenever it feels like it. As you can imagine, the unpredictability is just thrilling! So, I have been keeping my eyes out for deals and trying to figure out what computer I should buy once I save up enough.
Someone from our seminary recently bought a computer and was showing off his new laptop, so I thought I’d listen to his advertisement for this fabulous-new-must-have beauty. He talked about the programs, applications and such. Then ended his spiel by saying, “I believe that if I am going to use something everyday, then it just absolutely has to be the very best there is to offer.” Hence his sweet car, the trendy clothes, etc.
His words echoed in my mind.
About six months ago, my husband said he thought the Lord was trying to teach him to be content with mediocrity. Mediocrity? Never! We should always be striving for the best, I thought to myself. But in light of a few life lessons of my own, I think I now understand what my husband was saying. Just like my computer friend, it is easy for us to want the best life has to offer. But sometimes, "the best" is learning to be content with what we have.
Wanting is so hard-wired into us as humans that our entire economic system runs on its power. We want stuff, we want fun, relaxation, organization, education, sanity, health, etc- all of which is offered through the almighty dollar. There are no guarantees you can actually buy all those things, but you sure can try.
And then we enter into the list of things that money can’t buy. We want affection, significance, a place in the world, a lasting legacy. Marriage takes us to the realm of two people united and faced with this hardwired wanting. If sorting out our own desires as individuals isn’t hard enough, combining the wants of two people is sure to be an adventure.
In our marriage, I have learned that even though some of the things I want are good things, accepting and being content with what God has given us can be the best thing. And that choice can make all the difference in our happiness together.
Each couple has their list of wants. My husband and I long for a family, but God has not given us children. I sometimes mope that we don’t have more “comfortable” friends -- the kind you can go camping with or call last minute to come over on a Saturday night even though the house is messy. And sometimes I feel discontented when a project I worked hard on does not produce the fruit I expected.
Wanting children, a fruitful life or even more friends are not bad things. But if I let discontentedness grow, then I can have a real problem on my hands. And that problem can creep into the well-being of my marriage.
I have found that in matters of the heart a small thing can grow into a big ugly thing without my even realizing it. Discontentedness seems small but it can get pretty nasty. Here are some of the rotten fruits of discontentedness:
Blame. We can end up blaming our spouse for our unhappiness. I hear husbands and wives gripe at/about one another because the other won’t earn or save enough money to reach a financial goal. The two things couples fight most about are finances and sex. (Check out what James 4:1 has to say about that!)
Infidelity. Infidelity can be physical in nature, but can also be emotional. Infidelity begins with not being content with your spouse. I have watched both men and women involved in emotional affairs who justify it because their spouse didn’t give them something they wanted.
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