It seemed so innocent at first.
Like a casual conversation over coffee with an old friend, it didn’t mean anything. This relationship wouldn’t go anywhere it shouldn’t go.
But an innocent conversation leads to the what-ifs and the if-onlys and the I-should’ves.
It was never really innocent if I’m honest with myself. Because a casual conversation with Discontentment is never okay.
When we invite Discontentment into our homes, we begin to plant seeds. And as we water these seeds with thoughts and fertilize the soil of our hearts with regret, the seeds can grow and spread and choke out the fruit of a solid marriage. Many divorce-ending marriages begin to crumble when the whore of Discontentment is not kicked out of our homes.
Paul teaches us that contentment is learned (Philippians 4:11–“Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”) It doesn’t come naturally. Being content also takes strength. The often misapplied verse “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13) is Paul’s commentary on contentment. Verse 12 of this same passage reads, “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”
Further, Paul reminds the Corinthians against falling into the same trap as their ancestors. He warns them (and us) not to “grumble as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer” (I Corinthians 10:10). The Israelites were discontent with the provision of God, even longing to go back into the slavery of the Egyptians from which they were saved. Discontented grumbling destroys.
If true contentment is a learned strength, and if its opposite leads to destruction, then flirting with Discontentment can lead to the demise of our marriages. How do we avoid it?
First, call and recognize Discontentment for what it is: sin.
Don’t make it sexy or dress it up or label it as something else. It often comes in the disguise of “Happiness.” It is not innocent. Don’t entertain it in your thoughts. Kick it out of your head and heart like an unwanted, lazy parasite. Never let it feel welcomed even for a second. Discontentment is sin, so treat it as such. In contrast, Wisdom should be a regular guest. When Discontentment tells us our spouse isn’t the right one for us, Wisdom shouts the truth of your covenantal vows. Wisdom reminds us of our daily need of the gospel, while Discontentment urges us toward self-righteous pride. The call of Discontentment tempts us to notice every flaw of our spouse. Wisdom reminds us “Why should any living mortal…offer complaint in view of his sins?” (Lamentations 3:39).
Second, be thankful.
Discontentment has no room to reside in a house of thankfulness. Cultivate thankfulness in your homes. Staying thankful in all circumstances is an intentional choice. It’s easy to forget God, the One who provides and loves when life is going as we plan. It’s easy to forget that the God who provides and loves, is still good, even when tragedy strikes. Remembering who God was, is, and always will be helps us to stay thankful. Running to Him with questions (much like the psalmist does in 10:11, 22:1, 42:9b, and 44:24b, et al.) will still allow us to conclude that the “LORD hears the desire of the afflicted” (10:17). We can rest in Him because we can praise His name forever, and He rescues us because of His unfailing love (Psalm 42:11; 44:8; 44:26). Discontentment and Thankfulness will never be roommates.
Third, be on guard.
Devoted, faithful spouses do not text exes or send them private messages through social media. They would not flirt or seduce another person. A spouse who wants a strong marriage would not have private meetings with a coworker. Just as we would have boundaries against such absurd actions, we must also guard against Discontentment in the same way. We must build boundaries of Truth around our marriages. Pick up the sword, and slay Discontentment immediately. Stay in the Word. If Discontentment shows up, ask yourself if you’ve been using the weapon regularly. As we are told in I Timothy 6:6, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” We cannot hope to have godly behavior if we don’t read the Word and follow the Spirit’s prompting and piercing. To keep our weapon sheathed is to invite Discontentment. The invitation will be accepted every single time we offer it.
No matter how crazy life gets or how much of a break from the day-to-day is needed, toying with Discontentment is dangerous. Annihilation is our battle strategy. But be warned—Discontentment can resurrect. When each battle is won, the war is not yet over until Discontentment, along with Death, is destroyed for all time.