Tuesday, Jan 21, 2020

Discontent in Marriage: What to Do When Your Spouse Doesn’t Get You?

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Kim Brightness
Kim Brightness
As Publisher/CEO of Team Jesus Magazine, Kim Bright(ness) loves to provide uplifting and informative content to readers of this digital Christian playbook. With over 20 years in digital marketing and a social media maven, you'll find Kim posting, writing/editing, consulting, or covering Christian events near you with her trusty Team Jesus mic.

I Just Wish My Spouse Would…

discontent in marriageCleavers! Have you ever spoken these words in your head? I’m sure we all have, right? Discontent in marriage happens. But let’s face it – our spouses aren’t walking in “perfection” – and neither are we! Big or small, there are things we wish our husbands or wives would just “get”. No long, drawn-out explanations. No 300-page spouse handbook. No constant reminders. Just natural compliance without us saying a word.

Can we keep it real? If you’ve been married for any length of time, you notice these little idiosyncrasies of your husband or wife that truly irk you. Or, you notice this 3-eyed monster in their character or personality that makes you want to go ballistic.

Marriage doesn’t hide our flaws or weaknesses, it beams a spotlight on them. Over time, without change seeing the light of day – one can grow weary and discontentment can set in and eventually metastasize.

You’re not alone, though, Cleavers. Guess who else notices…

Discontent in Marriage Stirs Up the Enemy’s Creative Juices

discontent in marriageWherever there’s discontent in a marriage, you’ll find the devil “thinking of a master plan” to transform that discontent into deep-seated bitterness. The enemy stalks places in our marriages where there is discontent and he will exploit our frustrations if we let him.

One of the tricks married couples fall for is the greener grass – “look how easy {insert spouse’s shortcoming} is for him or her – he or she gets it!”

It’s interesting how that thing in your spouse that’s causing you aggravation and angst becomes even more frustrating as a mutual friend, co-worker, an ex, or former classmate effortlessly checks all of the boxes.

My fellow Cleavers – don’t fall for this perceived ease in Zion! It’s a mirage, trust me, the grass is not greener.

So-and-so may be getting it right, but we’ll get it wrong every time if we allow the distraction of others to take our focus off God and our vows. But, what do you do when lack, apathy, inconsistency, feeling unappreciated makes it harder to cleave to your spouse?

Heal the Disconnect with Your Spouse

discontent in marriageFirst, check your motivation. Where there is a chasm between us and our spouse, our mutual goal must be to mend that void and diligently seek restoration. Here is where the beautiful work of marriage kicks in. Our first step is a sincere desire to heal the discontent and fix what’s broken or awkward. With the goal of healing and resolution in hand, a few strategies we can use include:

1. Evaluate Whether the Issue is a Real Thing or a Personal Preference.

Before you go to your spouse with this issue – is it really “a thing”? Does your frustration warrant a change in their behavior, or is it just your personal preference? Here’s what I’m getting at. I’m not trivializing things that are truly issues – but there are some “ways” we have in our DNA that are just that, our way. It doesn’t mean that your spouse’s “way” is wrong – it’s just different. And this is what makes marriage beautiful work – bringing together two different people, with different experiences and upbringings, and making them one.

The key here is to ask God if you’re facing a real issue or an opportunity to compromise and learn to accept a point of view other than your own. Is this a moment to adapt – just like your spouse has to do with some of your quirks? You never want to oppress or suffocate your marriage with selfish rules and expectations. Ok. Now…

2. Confront Your Spouse in Love.

Re-read the very first question I asked, Cleavers. Have you been expressing your frustrations to yourself, in your head, and haven’t told your spouse? Have you been avoiding the hard conversations out of fear or concern that saying something will only make things worse?

That’s fair, folks, especially that second part. A lot of us exercise our right to remain silent because our spouse can be a lot to handle when it comes to receiving criticism. But the fact remains – none of us can read minds. We don’t know what we don’t know. Knowledge is the beginning of accountability, and not a moment sooner.

The first principle Jesus taught in Matthew 18:15 about offense with our brothers and sisters in Christ applies to our spouses – go to them. Tell them how the behavior or lack thereof makes you feel. Be intentional about winning – not an argument – but peace between you and your spouse. Go in love with the intention to hear as well as be heard.

3. Expose the Enemy to Each Other.

If you are being tempted or drawn to someone else because they do or “get” what your spouse currently lacks or won’t do, tattle-tell on the devil! I mean expose everything and sing like a canary lol!

Tell your spouse that you have identified the trap and that you need their help to cover you with their love, understanding, and effort to make things better. This honesty and transparency will take the sting out of the enemy’s weapon.

The one thing you never want to do is join forces with the enemy against your spouse. When we tell our spouse that John or Jane gets it right or “does it for them”, but he or she gets it wrong, we have teamed up with the enemy. Shifting our “cleave” to the devil is not a good look, Cleavers. This will only breed insecurity, anger, and doubt in your spouse. And if you love them, this is not what you want for them, amen?

Express how you don’t want the issue to get worse and that it will take both of you cleaving together in unity to resolve it.

4. Stay Willing to Pursue What Pleases Your Spouse.

Sure, the dating chase is over. You won the prize. But in order to maintain a marriage, we must remind ourselves that our spouse is still a prize. Familiarity is fertilizer to discontent in marriage.

Awaken the dating mindset and keep the pursuit of each other going! If your spouse approaches you with an issue of discontent, be open to pleasing them. Seek the pleasure and well-being of your spouse above your “way”. Husbands, give yourself for your wife like the sacrifice Jesus gave (Ephesians 5:25). Wives, seek to revere your husbands with respect that goes far beyond mere words but displayed action (Ephesians 5:33).

5. Don’t Scapegoat the devil.

Ok. Now that we’ve called the enemy out – let’s not scapegoat the devil either. What do I mean? If your spouse calls you on the carpet, don’t blame the devil for behavior that you clearly need to stop doing or things you need to do.

For example, it’s not “the enemy coming against your marriage” because your husband desires a clean house. Stop it. Nor is it “the devil” because your wife is asking you to spend more time with her than the boys.

Keep it honest and own your stuff, Cleavers. It could very well be the man or woman in the mirror who needs to make that change.

So, What’s the Play Call?

Search for peace and joy in your marriage, and chase after it on behalf of your spouse (Psalm 34:14). With both spouses doing so, you’ll run right into each other in love.

Yes, there will be times when you face discontent in marriage. Your spouse doesn’t get it, and it may take them a while to do so. But, with husbands and wives working together on the same team and the same page of God’s marriage playbook, your union will always triumph over discontent. Now, go cleave!

God bless.

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