How to Be Married and Happy! (3)
Contentment is the key to a happy marriage. When asked what makes us contented in marriage, we will point to things our partner does, or their characteristics, that please us. When asked what makes us discontented, we indicate what they do, or are, that displeases us. We focus on what’s right or wrong about them, making ourselves happy or unhappy. But contentment is an inside job! It’s how we react to others. Our attitude is the real issue. The problem’s not what we see or hear, it’s how we see or hear it: ‘...The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear…with hearing.’ (Ecclesiastes 1:8 NAS) The eye and ear—our perceptions—are the culprits. That’s why God says, ‘...be content with such things as you have...’ (Hebrews 13:5 NKJV) We must choose to see things differently, in ways that don’t make us unhappy. The controls are in our hands, not our partner’s!
Contentment is a choice. ‘...I have learned…to be content.’ (Philippians 4:11 KJV) We learn contentment by considering how much harder others have it, asking God how He wants us to use our challenges and lacks for our growth and our partner’s growth, and—remembering Erma Bombeck’s advice—‘The grass is always greener over someone else’s septic tank.’ Benjamin Franklin joked, ‘Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, and half shut afterwards’. Finally, we can learn contentment by praying for the courage to change what we can (especially our own attitude), the grace to accept what we cannot (most things are acceptable when we stop resenting them), and the wisdom to know the difference.