How to Avoid Being Discontent
in Your Marriage.
August, 13, 2020
Part of the human condition is to always want more. We strive to be faster, smarter, healthier, wealthier, and happier. If these goals had a finite end, we might reach them, but most of us still wouldn’t truly be satisfied. We’d just find something else to want. The same can be true in our relationships. Instead of finding contentment in the positive ways our spouse enriches our life, we get laser-focused on what is missing or lacking. We may even become discontent enough to go searching for it elsewhere. While wanting more for our relationship can be a huge motivation for improvement, it can easily suck all the joy out of our ‘now’ and eliminate any potential for our long-term happiness.
Here are 3 discontentment pitfalls to watch out for in your relationship.
The lost art of being grateful What do you like about your life? Your relationship? When was the last time you made a list of things about your spouse and your marriage for which you are grateful? Some of you have probably never done this, and I bet most of us haven’t done it nearly as often as we’ve added to our mental list of grievances, right? Discontentment breeds in bitterness and resentment and pushes out gratitude. When we focus on the negative, we completely miss the positive. Being grateful doesn’t mean ignoring the problem areas of your relationship that need attention, or not striving to be better (Quite the contrary, actually), but it does mean regularly taking the time to remind yourself of the components of your relationship with your spouse – both big and small – for which you are truly thankful for today. If you look hard enough, you’ll find them, even at the rockiest of times.
The comparison game
Comparing your relationship to anyone else’s is a fast track to discontentment. Think of it like a hamster on a wheel. It keeps going and going. When you play the relationship comparison game, you’ll forever be judging your relationship to be ‘better than’ or ‘not as good as’ another. And rarely are we comparing apples to apples. If we want to find contentment, we must stop comparing our real life, messy hair moments with our friends and neighbors’ Facebook highlights.
‘I’ll be happy when/if…’ statements
We’ve all said these words at one time or another, haven’t we? I’ll be happy when the kids can remember to not leave their wet swimsuits on the floor. Or, I’ll be happy when I get a new job, or my wife recognizes how much I do for this family. The problem with statements like these is they simply aren’t true. These kinds of things don’t really make us happy, or at least not for long. We just add something new to the end of our list that we need to be happy! True contentment will never be based on our feelings or external circumstances. It’s also not about being happy all the time. Contentment is an internal decision and must be a continuous choice we make, despite our circumstances.
Contentment is not settling
Now don’t confuse contentment with settling for less. The Greek philosopher, Epictetus, said “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” Settling is accepting your fate because you avoid making changes because of fear, inability, or lack of motivation. Contentment is knowing when to stop wanting more, knowing that wanting is ultimately an endless search. Contentment leads to peach. Settling leads to resentment. When you turn a settling situation into contentment because you choose to accept what you can’t change, I call that relationship reckoning. It’s understanding that none of us ever gets exactly what we want. It’s choosing to be content, knowing the positives outweigh the negatives. Let me tell you, finding contentment is empowering! It’s also a critical component of a healthy marriage. In fact, as our contentment increases, our conflict with others – most importantly, with our spouse – tends to decrease. If you find yourself discontent, dissatisfied, and disappointed with your relationship, now is the time to take a quick look in the mirror and to tell yourself it’s time for a change. Then start today.
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