If there was a category of “all of the above”, this would probably fit there better than “none of the above”. 🙂
I was doing a simple search through the scriptures today, because something is weighing heavily on my heart. I view my marital relationship as … messy, complex, often confusing, but still worthwhile. I wanted to see what I could find about contentment though, because sometimes I wonder if it’s possible to just be content, even in want. I see Paul talking about that, but it seems to be so much more a topic of things and physical needs being met. I’ve never found myself particularly troubled by not having much money, when it’s been sparse. We’ve lived in crude circumstances, and we’ve had times when our cup runs over. In some ways, I think that I even preferred the days when we had less, because our greater joys in life were centered around one another, because we basically had nothing else.
There is so much more to a person’s needs, than monetary things. I think I need some help, maybe some chapter and verse pointers, that might help me figure out how to be content in other areas, like sexually and emotionally. I have so little control over what my husband says and does. I can’t change him. I know that that work is between him and the Creator. When I take an inventory of our life, I can’t justify leaving him, simply because I am discontent with certain aspects of our relationship. While I don’t want to just let him off the hook, and accept whatever garbage behavior that he may be indulging in sometimes, I also can’t stand the thought of being miserable all the time. I’d love to reach a place where I’m just content with what I DO have, so that I can be as happy as I possibly can, regardless of whatever refining that my husband still needs to walk through.
Do you have any gems for me? Any sage advice? Any biblical references that I might look up?
Not much sage advice and we hear it all the time, but what about an attitude of gratitude? Look for the good in him. Start cherishing him as an article someone shared earlier recommends (I’ll come back with a link later when I get the chance.) Scans show that our thoughts of gratitude change our brains.
ETA: WHAT CHERISHING YOUR SPOUSE REALLY MEANS Thanks to @Hungry!
Another thought after rereading your post… if it was me, I would go start studying “peace”. The first Scripture that comes to mind is Isaiah 26:3, ““You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].” (AMP)
Sorry, just wanted to share this, it goes with my first post about gratitude. This was just shared in my FB feed: Scientists Show How Gratitude Literally Alters The Human Heart & Molecular Structure Of The Brain
This devotional thought by Neil Anderson provides insight on contentment. https://ficm.org/neilsblogs/contentment/
Contentment comes when I spend prayerful time counting my blessings and expressing my thankfulness for them. When I do so, the discontent of my heart melts away.
I don’t know if this applies to you or not, but do you have a girlfriend/sister/mother/co-worker/etc. with whom you chat regularly and share the minutiae of your day, including frustrations about your husband? I used to talk with my co-worker and just fell into the habit of talking about all the things that drove me crazy about DH. It just seemed fun to tell the stories in that “OMG, what is he thinking?!” kind of way and we fed off of each other. Eventually I realized that the more I talked about the things that irritated me–with which I was discontented–the more things irritated and discontented me. So I made a point of saying only (TRUE!) positive things about him as much as possible and almost right away I noticed much more positive feelings for him. In every way.
Please, please, please don’t misunderstand! I am not saying you should never vent your frustration or that you should not attempt to deal with ways in which he engages in “garbage behavior.” But I can guarantee that genuine and accurate positive speech about a loved one leads to more positive feelings about them. I guess it’s like counting the blessings you have received in them. You know; contentment. 🙂
I’ve typed out probably 3 or 4 different responses, and I am still struggling to find the right words. It’s failing me, so I’m going to just try a very blunt way of stating things, hoping that somehow I can communicate well enough to be heard….
My husband is sometimes very thoughtful and considerate, especially when it comes to my physical well being. He works incredibly hard to provide for me, and the children. He is understanding of my struggles with a chronic condition that causes me a lot of pain, and limits my mobility. He’s very forgiving about the fact that our house isn’t as neat and tidy as it should be, and that sometimes we’re eating takeout again, because I can’t stand long enough to prepare dinner. If it wasn’t for his care, I don’t know what I’d do.
On the flip side of our relationship, he is very insecure and controlling. I cannot stress to you how bad this aspect of our relationship is. If I turn off the tracking app on my phone, while sitting down to a cup of coffee, he will video-call me to make sure that I’m not meeting someone. He has open access to every communication that I have, all browser histories, and at one time put software on my phone so he could log my every keystroke. I’m never told that I can’t go anywhere, can’t do anything. I have free access to all of our funds. He just needs to know where I am, who I’m with, and to whom I may or may not be talking to – at all times. He has always been this way, but I didn’t realize what was going on when we were dating, because he was more stealthy. He enjoys degrading me, and believes that I should be fine with it, because he loves me. Therefore, no matter how he mocks me, teases me, or whatever names he calls me, I’m never supposed to have hurt feelings over it. I’ve asked him if he is purposefully trying to break me down, so that I will feel that no one else would ever want me, so he can feel secure that I won’t leave him. He says that that isn’t his intent. He doesn’t understand why my feelings get hurt, and why I don’t just adjust to fit his … way of ‘showing affection’. He derives a great deal of enjoyment from seeing unfiltered reactions, and so he’ll do things that he knows I abhor, just to watch me get upset. One of the latest examples is that he likes to slap my face while we’re cuddled close. It’s not enough to hurt me, just startle me and make me upset. He knows how much I hate it. Even though he knows that, his love of eliciting reactions causes him to push me to just accept it, instead of acknowledging that he is damaging our connection when he chooses his wants over my need to not be slapped.
I’ll be honest and admit that there are a number of times when I have seriously considered ending our marriage. There have been times when I’ve been so driven so deeply into depression, that I’ve thought that the only way to get out of this situation was to kill myself. In spite of his awful behavior, I do love the man who is in there. We talk through a lot of his acting out, and I see that he makes some effort to change his ways. Still, he is very broken, and he takes it out on me, and calls it love. This makes me sad a lot. I’m not interested in only looking at the good things, and the things that I’m thankful for. I can’t turn my back to the garbage, and pretend like it’s not there, in the hope that it will disappear or I’ll forget about it. Maybe I’m looking at it all wrong. Maybe I’m not supposed to be content, and feel less grieved. Maybe I’m not supposed to embrace Paul with his contentedness in plenty, and in want. Some days I really do feel more like David, crying out in despair, waiting on salvation. How does a person live like that though? Always mourning for the connection with their spouse that they’ll never really have? Sometimes I just want to not want.
Oh, and no, I don’t vent to anyone. I’m only discussing this here, because you don’t know me.
It sounds like you have taken steps personally in trying to communicate with him and confront him on his ways. It sounds like you don’t want to just make the best if it with “only looking at the good”…. which I do believe we are called to hold others accountable for their sin, so I can understand your feelings there.
Are you willing to actually step out and get help, like taking “one or two with you” (Mt. 18:16) as you confront him? If he still won’t listen, are you willing to “tell it to the church” (Mt. 18:17)?
Wren, what you have and are experiencing is not ok. Based on your courageous sharing, there is ample evidence that you are in an abusive relationship. Please seek professional help, immediately. If your church has pastoral care, see that pastor in confidence. He or she will know how and what to do for next steps. If not, do your research to find a well regarded professional, Christian counseling service in your community and seek their help.