Can Contentment Heal Your Marriage?
By: Rebecca Barlow Jordan
A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. - Proverbs 17:22 AMP
Ads bombard us daily—no matter where we turn. Each week I delete hundreds of emails touting, “Buy this!” “You need that!” “Special Sale Today!” Underlying messages attack us through television and pop up on our phones and computers appealing to our subliminal desires: “Using this will bring you success!” I love Pinterest because I am visually oriented, but even this and other social media tools can lure us into dissatisfaction.
That malady doesn’t just affect financially challenged couples. Materialism tempts even wealthy couples, whether it’s a bigger home, car, or technology. No matter how much or how little we possess in material goods, and regardless of our health or the state of our circumstances—negative or positive—discontent can suck us into its vacuum.
But temptations can stretch into every area of a couple’s life, not just the desire to accumulate things. “Her husband actually listens to her.” “His wife never criticizes her husband.” “Their children have more advantages than ours.” “Their kids never rebel.” “Nothing ever goes wrong in their marriage.”
Those temptations themselves don’t make us sinful; giving in to them does. Acting, believing, or surrendering to any of those messages can actually lead us—and our marriages—into spiritual sickness. And that process is so subtle. Proverbs 17:22 in the Passion translation says, “A joyful, cheerful heart brings healing to both body and soul. But the one whose heart is crushed struggles with sickness and depression.”
We may not “think” we are envious. And we don’t intentionally choose to be ungrateful or discontent. We may simply fit into the culture unconsciously. But its power can attempt to crush our spirits and our marriage.
The apostle Paul says that contentment is an acquired, or learned skill: “I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am” (Philippians 4:11-13 MSG).
How could Paul make those statements? As a believer in Christ, he experienced stoning, shipwreck, beatings, persecution, hunger, and imprisonment. He could have complained about rats in the prison, unfair treatment, rumblings in his stomach, and temporary abandonment from God. But He chose—and learned—contentment. Through it all, Paul found a secret recipe: he could make it through anything because of the One who would give him strength. Paul found healing, happiness, and contentment in Jesus.
Combating those temptations of envy and discontent will take both husband and wife working together, as well as each spouse developing a sense of gratitude for the other. It may require a few “come to Jesus” sessions to talk about finances or unrealistic expectations. And it may even involve praying together with serious heart searching, activities that result in asking forgiveness and establishing accountability with your spouse to stay on track.
Remember, it’s just as easy to give thanks about something as it is to complain. A contented heart is a happy heart. And Proverbs says that kind of heart is like good medicine. Even physicians agree. They’ve seen the miraculous results of patients who refused to grumble about their conditions. Instead, they chose to believe the best and to give thanks—no matter what.
This prayer/instruction from Proverbs might head us in the right direction: “Empty out of my heart everything that is false— every lie, and every crooked thing. And give me neither undue poverty nor undue wealth— but rather, feed my soul with the measure of prosperity that pleases you” (Proverbs 30:8 TPT).
A contented heart sees their spouse as God sees them. A happy heart accepts life itself—and their marriage—as a gift from God to be savored and enjoyed. Gratitude views life from God’s perspective. And a grateful heart can offer healing and hope to a marriage, because it knows where the true secret of contentment lies: in the One who loves them more than life itself and who will never abandon them—no matter what.
It doesn’t matter how wealthy or poor we are. Our circumstances don’t determine our contentment or success. Because when we have Jesus, we have everything.
Rebecca Barlow Jordan is a bestselling inspirational author and day-voted follower of Jesus who loves to paint encouragement on the hearts of others. After five decades of marriage, she and her husband are more passionate about marriage and family than ever. Rebecca has authored and contributed to over 20 books and has written over 2000 other articles, devotions, greeting cards, and other inspirational pieces. She is a regular Crosswalk contributor whose daily devotional Daily in Your Presence is also available for delivery through Crosswalk.com. You can sign up for Rebecca’s free ebook and find out more about her and her encouraging blog at www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com.
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