Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Being bitten by the comparison bug {finding contentment in our marriage}

"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have:"
Hebrews 13:5 

I have been pondering an issue today, that I know that I used to struggle with in my marriage.  I know that I am not alone, and it is something that is an issue for MANY wives.

No, it's not submission.  I *STILL* struggle with that, so it would not be a "used to" topic.

I think it is something that I would call "spouse coveting".   It can arise from many different sources, and strike in many areas of marriage.  And, it can damage your marriage.  Indeed, discontent in ANY area, can be very destructive.

The verse I quoted at the top actually follows on from a verse that tells us that marriage is honourable.  Strongs lists this exposition for honourable.... "valuable, that is, (objectively) costly, or (subjectively) honoured, esteemed, or (figuratively) beloved: - dear, honourable, (more, most) precious, had in reputation."

I don't think you could find a better list of adjectives to describe how we should view our marriage!!

If we are to hold onto our marriages in that way - thinking of them as valuable, precious and highly esteemed - it's how we should also view our HUSBANDS.

"But Caroline, my husband is FAR from perfect!"

That is as may be, but it does not negate the fact that we are then told in the next verse

"be content with such things as ye have".

Yes, that includes our husbands - warts and all.

Before that, we are first told to " Let your conversation be without covetousness".  This is where the archaic language of some of the AV is a slight disadvantage.  I personally just take it as a reason to study my Bible a bit deeper, though.  "Conversation" here, does not mean what we would mean it to now. It means "character".  Our character should be one that is without coveting.  Remember what it says in Exodus?  Covet not?  It ends with "anything that is thy neighbours".  That would be, if you are a woman, your male "neighbour", and all his strong points, too! We must not want those things that belong to another.

The worst thing you can do, from the standpoint of contentment, is to start comparing YOUR husband, to someone else's.  Whether it's a fictional husband in a book, the husband of someone's blog you read, other husbands you know on a day to day basis, or your own Dad.  If we constantly look and compare, and wish they were more like "so and so", then we are taking our eyes off who they are,  hoping they would be someone else.

Let me say, first of all, that it is not wrong to see each other's faults.  In fact, from a Biblical standpoint, it's hard to miss them.  What I am saying is, it is wrong to see the negatives, or things that your husband lacks, and wish him to be more like someone else. The opposite of contentment is dissatisfaction. You are not satisfied with who and what your husband is, if you constantly wish he was more like another man.

If they are lacking spiritually, then your desire is for them to be more like Christ.  That is not wrong to pray for.  Of course, we should first be looking at OURSELVES in that matter, and praying that WE would become more like Christ.

However, when it comes down to the practical, or how he looks/dresses/cuts his hair, etc, comparing is just not helpful.  Each of us, whether as wives, or as husbands, have been given different strengths and weaknesses.  Some may be really handy with DIY.  Some may be really romantic, and good at thinking of things to do for you without being asked.  Some may be really generous.  Some are hard workers, providing for their family.  Some will be naturally great with the children.  Looking at seeing what your husband does NOT do, is not what we should be doing. Looking to see what someone else's husband does that ours doesn't, is NOT what we should be doing.

It's not wrong to admire a quality in someone else, either.  That is simply seeing and appreciating a positive character trait.  Wishing it upon our own spouse, and despising the fact that they do not possess that trait, is when it's wrong.

Instead, we need to learn to be content.  As with any area of contentment -  whether it's where we live, the family we have, or whatever -  we need to LEARN.  If the apostle Paul acknowledged that it was something that didn't happen overnight, then we are not to be surprised if it something that takes a while for us, too!

We should find the good.  Focus on the positives.  Search for the best parts of our "other half".  I know that it can be hard, but if we have an attitude that looks for the best in everything we see, it won;t be hard to find in our husband. We did, after all, CHOOSE to marry them!!! Those lovely things that attracted us to them in the beginning, are probably still there.  They may be buried deep, or we may need to coax them back out again.  Being an encouraging and appreciative wife is also more than likely going to encourage them to develop those wonderful traits.

Also, there are probably things about  YOUR husband, that other wives can see and admire! They may even be thinking "I like that so-and-so's husband does such-and-such"!!!

We need to be wives that encourage the great things in our husband, and be content with who they are and what they do. Absolutely, pray for spiritual growth, and even for practical improvements.  But, do NOT become discontent because you are comparing or coveting.

I used to do it.  I would only see the negatives, and forget about all the wonderful, amazing and gifted traits in my husband.  I had to learn to be content, and to leave any negative issues with the Lord, for Him to deal with in HIS time. To not constantly compare and hope for some dream husband, that my husband was not.  And, do you know what?   I realised I had the most wonderful husband I could ever want. He does so much for me, and I deeply appreciate the gifts that God has blessed him with, that I know other men don't always have.  If I am totally honest, I still have to squash down the infrequent little feelings of "I wish....", but I conquer them with "I am so glad that he....", instead.

Let's be thankful, grateful and content with the man that God has given us today, and every day.  Praying earnestly for God to strengthen his walk and life on a spiritual level, yes - but, so very happy with the good that we know is there.

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