I recently made the choice to allow ads to appear on the sidebar of The Marriage Blog. Given that this is a pro-marriage, Christian-based blog, I would expect a certain type of advertising to appear. Now, I know that Google’s ads are individualized based on Google searches, region of the country, tied to keywords within a blog, and dictated by a whole bunch of other stuff that someone smarter than me figured out. Still, I'm always intrigued to see what ads pop us. Some of the ads have fit the criteria I would have expected (a local Christian college, travel and hotel, even ads for internet dating), but a few ads have surprised me (divorce attorneys? Really? On a pro-marriage blog site?).
The main purpose of most advertising is to create dissatisfaction. Its goal is to make you desire something you do not currently have by making you feel like your life is unfulfilled without X-Y-Z product or service. And the goal is not just to make you desire it, but desire it feverishly; to desire it to the point you fixate on it. Sadly, too many of us fall for advertising for stuff and services that we just don’t need.
Even more sadly, too many spouses fall for it when the media, their co-workers, and at times even their closest friends and family try to sell marriage discontentment.
- “Are you really happy just being a wife and stay-at-home-mom?”
- “Is the ‘old ball and chain’ keeping you from having fun again?”
- “Are you sure that is the man you want to sail into your golden years with?”
- “Is she spending you into poverty?”
- “Does he ever really pay attention to you?”
- “Does she always nag you like that?”
- “He didn’t used to look like that. He sure has let himself go, hasn’t he?”
- “Is she really fulfilling your sexual needs?”
- “Could he provide a better life for you?”
- “How could you be happy living like that?”
It doesn’t matter what it is. It doesn’t have to be a monumental statement. Often, it’s something that can be played off as a joke. But the voices around us continually take shots at our mates. If we’re not vigilant, those voices can get inside our heads; create an air of dissatisfaction…and begin selling us discontentment with our mates.
Well, I think it’s time for us to stand up those stupid, destructive voices, to quit focusing on what’s “wrong” with our mates, and to fight back. It’s only when we quit living selfishly and comparatively that we can boldly claim the joy of marriage that God give us.*
So, when someone says, “Is the ‘old ball and chain’ keeping you from having fun tonight?” don’t hesitate to reply, “She is the joy of my life. Why would I want to trade that for a night of your self-inflicted misery?” When your friend says, “He didn’t used to look like that. He sure has let himself go, hasn’t he?” tell her, “There’s no greater feeling than to be loved and accepted unconditionally. It’s how we love each other. I hope you find that kind of love someday.” If you hear, “Does she always nag you like that?” let your buddy know, “I value my wife’s opinion. She’s intelligent and compassionate. You could learn a lot from her.” When you're asked, “How could you be happy living like that?” live in a way that let’s that person know that godly contentment in your marriage covenant is the only way you can be happy.
Standing up against the voices of discontentment and claiming the joy of marriage that God gives us doesn’t mean everything will always be perfect. And while I do think we need to stand firm against those who would criticize our mates, I'm not advocating being mean or rude in responding to someone's ill-thought out comment. But remember, discontentment is always for sale. If you want a holy, blessed marriage, then you’ve got to resist the sales pitch.
*In this post, I am addressing normal circumstances that create discontentment in couples over time. I am NOT addressing discontentment that results from abusive or addictive behavior. If you are in fear for your safety physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, or spiritually, seek immediate protective and professional help.
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