Bitterness. When we want something or have an expectation that goes unmet for a long period of time, we often blame our spouse and then get bitter. Sometimes we have genuinely been mistreated; other times we just haven’t been treated like the prince or princess we want to be! When a real offense has been received, we need to apply the Biblical instructions for forgiveness. 

A Broken Spirit. If your desires in your marriage go unmet for a long time your spirit can be broken (Proverbs 13:12).  So you must protect your heart and make sure that what you desire is good and worthy of that place in your heart. Also, be aware that your desires affect your spouse and can break their spirit as well. If you cling to perfectionism your spouse will get disheartened. Most spouses want to please their mate. If your spouse views pleasing you as an impossibility, they might just give up trying. My husband has said that the secret to a happy marriage is learning to be in love with an imperfect person.

As you consider your marriage in its current phase and stage, there will be things that aren’t perfect about it. And while we need to continue to always be growing in our areas of weakness, we can also find balance in life through contentment. Practicing contentment can shield our love and our marriage. When life interrupts our expectations, contentment can play a big role in keeping the sanity and love in our marriages.

For example, spouses can protect the safety and fidelity of their intimate life by choosing to be content with their spouse regardless of the airbrushed, plastic surgery world we live in.  Instead of comparing your mate to unrealistic media images, God’s word tells husbands (but the principle applies to wives as well) to be “exhilarated” by your wife (Proverbs 5:19).  Not just ho-hum-just-surviving-our-marriage contented, but exhilarated!  It's tempting to think it's our spouse's responsibility to make us feel exhilerated but this is really a choice to be satisfied with the blessing God has given you in your spouse.

Contentedness can also be a remedy for some of the unmet goals in your marriage.  Maybe you thought you’d own a home by now, be finished with college or have started a family sooner. Maybe you are disappointed that your husband hasn’t become the spiritual leader you thought he was growing toward early in your marriage. Or you are disheartened by your wife’s preoccupation with her career over you and your family. These kind of issues can be broached with conversation, should be covered in prayer. In between today and the hoped for change, contentment can be the glue that keeps your love together. Instead of focusing on all the things your spouse isn’t, you can find the things that are wonderful about them and learn to be content with them just the way they are.  Besides, sometimes people change the most when the pressure of expectation is off them!

Contentment can be a cure for the little things that come between husbands and wives, but it is not a fix-all for major issues of sin. Things like infidelity, addictions and abuse are not things you just sit tight and be content with. Those are problems that require action. Yet, many marriages are broken not by major sin, but by small infractions of disappointment and unmet expectations that eventually pile up into mountains of distance between husband and wife. 

For those small, but ever nagging issues in your marriage, choosing an attitude of contentment and mercy might produce more fruit than anything else.  James 2:13 tells us that “mercy triumphs over judgment!”  And 1 Timothy 6:6 says that “godliness with contentment is great gain.”  Who knows the “triumph” and “great gain” that await you and your spouse as you pursue contentment in your relationship?