It happens. You open up your news feed or turn on the news, and you hear about someone with a lot of promise and with everything going for them who threw it all away on bad choices and wrong living. It’s not only sad, it’s mystifying. All you can do is shake your head and think, “What a waste!”
This is the feeling you get from 1 Kings chapter 14. Both Jeroboam and Rehoboam had been given great opportunities. God had given each of them a kingdom and a promise to meet their needs and desires if they would simply follow and obey Him. Yet, they took God’s goodness toward them as a sign they were invincible and they did whatever they wanted.
We can read 1 Kings chapter 14 and say, “What a waste,” but aren’t we prone to demonstrate the same type of behavior?
When things are going well, we tend to let down our guard and become less disciplined and vigilant. We do more of what we want to do and less of what we need to do, acting as if God’s blessings are going to just keep coming…even though our actions are less and less worthy of blessing.
We must remember that every blessing we experience is a gift from God. (James 1:17) We need to realize that we have been bought with the great price of Christ’s life. We should honor and obey God out of gratitude, rather than honor ourselves by doing whatever we want. (1 Cor. 6:20)
Don’t take for granted the blessings of God and your need to gratefully obey His directions. Don’t live your life in such a way that someone might someday look at your life and say, “What a waste!”
If you’re dissatisfied with your spouse or your marriage, you’re not alone. As we saw in the last post, it’s not that uncommon. But the big question is, what do you do about it?
In this post, we’ll look at what you can do if you’re dissatisfied with your marriage.
ARE YOU DOOMED TO BE DISSATISFIED IN MARRIAGE?
Just because every marriage experiences occasional dissatisfaction doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be dissatisfied in marriage.
I once knew a couple who had been married for 74 years. One day, I asked them how they had managed to have such a long and strong marriage. The husband told me, “Son, sometimes when I would get frustrated with her, I had to learn to shut my mouth and go for a long walk.” His wife started laughing, and said, “He wasn’t the only one who had to go for a long walk!”
Despite times of dissatisfaction, this couple had a wonderful marriage of 74 years. So, even though you may experience some dissatisfaction from time to time, know that you can still have a great and lasting marriage.
WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOUR DISSATISFIED WITH YOUR MARRIAGE?
Being dissatisfied in your marriage doesn’t necessarily mean you have a bad marriage, but it does mean you have some changes to make. You may think your spouse is the source of your dissatisfaction, but a lot of your dissatisfaction has as much to do with you as it does with your spouse.
So if you want to turn your dissatisfaction around, you (not your spouse) need to start making some changes. Here are a few things you can do:
Stop Comparing Your Marriage to Others.
It’s easy to be envious of other marriages that seem to have it all together. When you see them out to dinner, at church, or on social media, they look happy and seem to have a great marriage. But you would probably be surprised if you could see behind the scenes. No couple is perfect, and every couple has their own struggles.
I am not saying there aren’t couples out there who have great marriages. There are. But their marriage is great because they have learned what works for them. And what works for them won’t necessarily work for you and your spouse.
So stop comparing your marriage to other marriages that look great, and instead, start making your marriage great.
Curb Your Expectations.
We all have expectations about how we think our spouse and marriage should be. Expectations are a part of being human.
But too often, our expectations are unrealistic. Just as you would be hurt and frustrated if your spouse held you to their expectations of the perfect spouse, so will they feel hurt and frustrated if you do the same.
So learn to curb your unrealistic expectations.
Give Your Spouse the Benefit of the Doubt.
Your spouse didn’t marry you so they could make you miserable. That was not their intention when they uttered their wedding vows, and it is probably not their intention now.
It’s easy to get our feelings hurt and then to take everything personally. But most of the things you take personally, have little to do with you, and more to do with your spouse.
So assume that your spouse loves you, that they didn’t mean it in the way you heard it, and that they’re not just trying to get your goat.
If it continues to bother you, kindly ask them about it, but otherwise, give your spouse what you would want…the benefit of the doubt.
Stop Seeing Differences As a Threat.
We talked about this in the last post. When we’re dating, we believe we’re attracted to our partner by all we have in common. But in reality, it’s our differences that attract us.
Those differences seem novel at the time. But, after the “I do’s,” those differences start to lose their appeal. Rather than attracting us, those differences begin to aggravate us. They get under our skin, and we start seeing the differences as flaws in our spouse that we need to correct. (By the way…trying to correct your spouse’s “flaws” won’t win you any points. Trust me!)
The differences between you and your spouse are not there to aggravate you. They are there to grow you. Those differences are there to help strengthen your weak areas and to compliment the things you lack. Those differences are also there to teach you how to be humble and gracious. In reality, your spouse’s differences are a gift, rather than a threat. The more you can see this, the less dissatisfied you’ll be.
Change Your Focus.
Many of us are better at pointing out what’s wrong than celebrating what’s right. It’s easier to focus on what we don’t like about our spouse and our marriage, than on what’s good about our spouse and our marriage. This can be caustic.
Whatever you focus on tends to set your attitude and approach to things. So if you focus on that with which you’re dissatisfied, you wind up fueling your dissatisfaction and killing your gratitude.
Philippians 4:8 encourages us to focus on what’s good and right and commendable. If you learn to do this in marriage, you’ll be surprised at the difference it will make.
Show More Appreciation than Disappointment.
If you’re experiencing dissatisfaction in your marriage, you probably feel under-appreciated. But I’m betting your spouse feels the same way.
It is so easy to stop showing appreciation to your spouse and to start taking them for granted…leaving them starved for appreciation. How do you know if your spouse needs appreciation? If they’re breathing, they need appreciation.
Appreciation is the one gift that costs you nothing to give and produces tremendous benefits when you do. Be lavish in showing your spouse appreciation…even for the small things.
IN THE END…
Will doing these things make every day of marriage as happy as a broadway musical number? Nope! But doing these things will make you more aware and grateful for the great things about your spouse and your marriage. And as your gratitude increases your dissatisfaction decreases.
So, laugh in the face of your dissatisfaction and get to work!
One day, I was out walking and noticed a man with a metal detector methodically covering a patch of ground. Slowly and diligently, he combed first one patch of ground and then another, occasionally stooping to dig up a coin or small trinket. After an hour, he finally packed up his gear and left.
As I walked, I found myself wondering, “Why would someone put so much time, effort, and resources into looking for what seems to be such a small pay off?” Still, he seemed content and generally happy…as if the act of looking for treasure produced its own value.
Many years ago, I was in Paris as part of a mission trip. While there, we had some free time and a group of us went to the Louvre. The Louvre houses some of the most famous art work in the world. Pieces like the Venus de Milo and and the statue of the winged, headless angel called Winged Victory.
But of all the artwork in the Louvre, the one I wanted to see the most was Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, the Mona Lisa. I had seen pictures of the Mona Lisa all my life, and now I was finally going to see it for myself!
If you’ve ever been disappointed, you know how easy it is for disappointment to derail you.
I see this with my grandchildren. They always have a list of things they want: “I want to go outside and play.” “I want to go out to eat pizza.” “I want to rent a movie.” “I want a snack.” “I want to spend the night.” If something gets in the way of what they want, it can throw them into a funk from which they have a hard time recovering.
But it’s not just children who struggle with disappointment.
Have you ever regretted something, and the more you thought about it the more you found yourself saying, “If only”? Maybe it was something you said, or something you did, or a decision you made, but whatever it was left you with regret and the reverberation of “if only.”
We all have those “if only” regrets. They sound something like this:
It’s Labor Day and I’m sick. Not loosing your last meal in the commode sick. More like head full of concrete can’t breathe sick. I’ve tried every remedy I could find in our cabinet of over-the-counter promises, but no magic bullet.
I woke up early this morning, after a hit-and-run night of sleep. Restless and mouth-breathing, I got up to find my wife sleeping on the couch so as to not catch what might be the next big thing on the CDC’s top 40. She got up to go to bed and there I was. Couldn’t sleep. Couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t stop peeing from all the water I’m drinking to stay hydrated.
This is not the way I wanted to spend Labor Day. Why did I have to get sick now?
“What happened to the person I married?” “Where did that person go?” “I want that person back.” This is not the person I thought I was marrying.” “This isn’t the spouse I wanted!”
Most people who have been married for any length of time have thought these things, even if they weren’t brave enough to say them out loud. It’s like you’re the victim of a bait and switch. You thought you were getting one person and instead you got another.