Proverbs 14:1 (TPT)
14 Every wise woman encourages and builds up her family, but a foolish woman over time will tear it down by her own actions.
When I look at this picture, I believe the following:
She's so happy because her husband picked up his socks and did his own laundry. He is also planning on putting the kids to bed and then cleaning the kitchen while she has a hot bath with a refreshing drink. He also told her she was beautiful, brought her home a gift, (insert your love language here).
He is so happy because she fixed the garbage disposal while he was at work so he didn't have to do it when he got home. Also, she is planning on some outlandish sexual escapade for the two of them this evening and he can't wait!
Isn't it easy to believe that the couple above can only be that happy because of the circumstances I described?
Welp, if you are anything like me, I'm pretty sure this is not what your life actually looks like. By the way, let's clear this up right now. Don't "at" me about the traditional gender roles that I'm talking about. It's my life and my experience, so there you have it. If you work and he stays at home, cool.
How to Breed Discontentment
Here's the deal. We are in charge of building our family and that begins with our spouse.
For years, I was dissatisfied with Rob. (Don't feel too sorry for him; he was dissatisfied with me, too). I thought he only wanted me to make him babies, cook his food, and clean his house. I resented the fact that he wasn't stuck in the times of drudgery and plain old hard work of childcare. I was tired and bored. I was unhappy that I didn't finish college and felt like I was worth less because of it. I spent more time than I would like to admit ruminating on all the things that were wrong in my life and in my marriage. I blamed Rob for not "seeing" me and not making his life revolve around what I wanted. I was totally tearing down my house and felt justified in doing so.
Thank God, literally, for Jesus. At the rock bottom of our marriage, around 2010, Rob and I discovered what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus. We were "Christians" before this time and went to church, but our lives were not transformed. We had heard about how Jesus "wanted to have a relationship with us", but had ZERO clue what that meant. Anyway, we started attending a new church out of desperation (thank you, David Stark & VCC!) and we learned for the first time how Jesus doesn't hold our mistakes against us and that He loves us unconditionally. More on life with Jesus in another post, but for now, let me assure you that He was absolutely ESSENTIAL in the re-building of our family.
In a nutshell, when we started to look to Jesus to meet our deepest relational needs, we started to release the pressure put upon one another to "make us happy".
How to Breed Contentment or: How to Build Up Your Marriage
So how do we breed contentment?
You. Guys. THIS:
Romans 12:2 (TPT)
2 Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.
There is so much to talk about here! We've got to forget what culture tells us will make us happy. The American dream will not make us happy. Typically, it gets us into debt which ADDS stress to our lives. A spouse that makes more money will not make us happy (we will just buy the next greatest thing that we had to have but then a newer model comes out and we are once again unhappy, and maybe in debt despite our spouse making more money).
A spouse that is in perfect shape and great looking will not make us happy. These things are good additives, but they are not the source of happiness.
We've got to have a total reformation about how we think. This is how I do it.
1. I focus on all of Rob's positive qualities. Never have you met a man that works harder for his family. He has integrity. He LOVES me unconditionally. Like, for real. He tries hard. And so on.... By focusing on all the wonderful things about him, I am building up my house.
2. I try not to think or speak negatively to him our about him. Converse to thinking positively, I try not to entertain any negativity. Instead of complaining to my friends about the offenses I've suffered, I take them to Jesus instead. He listens and usually is just patiently waiting for me to get it out and then He begins to comfort me by reminding me about how much He loves me. When I'm done, I'm re-centered and refocused on loving from a place of fullness. Honestly, the transformative process of Jesus has brought me to the place where I'm not nearly as offended as I used to be.
This doesn't mean that I don't acknowledge my feelings. Sometime, I can let offense go with the help of the Lord. Sometimes, I need to vocalize what's going on with me.
For example, the other night I was out of the house at dinner time. I had prepared dinner for the family before I left and was planning on eating when I returned, but my precious fam didn't leave me food. Instead of dwelling on how they had basically forgotten about me I simply stated, "Hey guys. You didn't leave me any food and I feel uncared for." Rob apologized and it was over. Because I know that he loves me, has integrity, etc., I can easily accept his apology and move forward. No negativity needed.
Invitation for you: focus on your spouse's positive qualities today. Let's do it! Let's create strong marriages interaction by interaction, choice by choice!