Contentedness in Marriage and the Problem of Lust

I would like to share with you my two cents about contentedness in marriage. [ I am not a veteran by any means in this arena as I am working on only my fourth year of marriage. ]

I’d like to share with you my thoughts about being content in marriage, and what I think that realistically looks like from a Christian perspective.

This article is inspired by a dear sister in Christ who is struggling hard in this area.

My two cents: Our spouse is lovely, flawed, and human. We are never going to find “completeness” in them. No matter how amazing they may be, they will never meet all the needs or expectations we have at every time. I don’t think they were ever meant to… On the same hand we will never meet all their needs perfectly every time as well for our spouse and what they need or desire from us.

I believe that God Himself is the only One who can fully complete an aching and longing soul. 

When you feel your spouse isn’t quite everything you want or need, and your heart starts to wander into a dangerous realm of doubting that your marriage is meant to be or even beginning to desire another person instead of your spouse, remember this quote I am about to share with you.

Disclaimer, the author of this quote I am sharing with you is not a Christian, but a critic of the Faith. However this quote by him is spot on in this conversation and a broken clock is right twice a day as they say….

“Ultimately, it is the desire, not the desired, that we love.” -Nietzsche

Our culture [specifically Hollywood] drills into us from a very young age that marriage is supposed to be this highly romantic and passionate experience. We are brainwashed with scenes of men standing out in the rain begging for the attention of a woman he is smitten with. Women expect their man to be as eloquent as Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice, as persistent as Noah from The Notebook. When we are expecting this and it doesn’t happen quite like we thought it would, we become disappointed. not because our spouse isn’t good enough but because our expectations are not reasonable.

It is safe to say that women are more emotionally driven and men are more physically driven in their lusts of the body and mind. I say this to bring up a point.

I have recently spoken to a Christian woman who struggles greatly with lusting or engaging in emotional adultery with other men because she feels her husband is not what she really wanted. Things may have been ok in the beginning but he does not connect with her on the levels she is desperately wanting. This opens up the door to thoughts about other men and if they would “be better” for her.

I think however tempting these thoughts are, we must remember this. There will always be someone more smart, attractive, kind, and funny than our spouse. Even if you committed adultery with this person you’re dreaming about and broke your home to do so, the “honeymoon” stage would wear off and we would be back at square one with this new person thinking they are not adding up completely.

What’s the solution? If there will always be a person more smart than our spouse, a person more lovely, exciting, kind, talented, etc.? Before I talk about the solution, first we must realize that marriage is a sacred covenant that is built on a vow that does not end until one spouse dies and the surviving spouse is no longer under that law. I say this because divorcing our spouse because they aren’t up to our standards is not a valid reason for divorce or because we simply have our eye on someone new. I did not bring that up to say its appropriate to hope for your spouse to die prematurely so you can pursue someone new… but rather marriage is meant for a human’s lifetime, and not just the lifetime of your lust for them.

The solution is to look to Christ for our ultimate satisfaction in life. Not in our current spouse or anyone else.

We love the desire, not the desired. This reminds me of 2 Samuel 13 with Amnon and Tamar when Amnon is so infatuated with his sister that he violates her in a horrible way, and then immediately hates her and wants her to go away. He never really loved her, he had a heart and lust problem. That’s why we are told in Jeremiah 17:9 that The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

I can personally attest to understanding how it feels to be objectified and preyed upon for purely lustful intentions, as many other women can. This is why we need to take Paul at his word and really Flee from sexual immorality. 

It’s helpful for me to remember the big picture, that we will all be in heaven sooner than we realize and that no one will be given in marriage there, and lust will not exist in our glorified state. I personally cannot wait to not be constantly steeped in temptation and battling with the flesh.

I read in a related article that if this is an area that you stumble in that you should identify what they call the “dangerous person profile”. This is a way to safeguard your heart and ultimately your marriage. Is there a specific type of man that you are repeatedly tempted by? Perhaps its a person who is strong in the ways your spouse is weak. If your husband barely reads his Bible you might be more drawn to a man who is strong in his faith and is reading his Bible daily, and that leadership you are drawn to. I say this because in my conversations with women who struggle in this area this seems to be the case and you might want to identify what type of person may trigger you to feel ungrateful for your spouse and make an effort to have as minimal contact with this type of person as is reasonable.

When you’re tempted to rebel against God and desecrate your marriage, pray to God that He might strengthen you and comfort you when you feel that your marriage is not going well.

1 Corinthians 10:13 

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. [ESV]

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