A very important part of promoting marital harmony is to constantly nourish a feeling of gratitude and to learn to be happy with one’s lot; to really appreciate everything one has, with simplicity and joy. We learn to find happiness in small things.We do not yearn for things others have. Very often, and I think this applies to women a lot, we may start to compare our lives to others: that one has a bigger house, that one has a kinder husband, that one has a nicer car and can afford to take wonderful vacations etc. etc. Whenever we compare to others, we automatically start to feel a lack within our own lives and a yearning for something that we consider “better”. But right there is the beginning of the problem: when we truly trust the Almighty, we understand that He knows what is best for us at every moment in life and therefore what we may think is better for us, may not be. When we can appreciate what we have in reality and not feel we are lacking anything, then we are truly rich. We are content and we can respect our husbands properly and give a feeling of joy to our children and household.
If however we constantly complain or think negative thoughts, yearning for a different life, we find it harder to really appreciate what we have. That is the beginning of many problems in shalom bayit (marital harmony) because a wife may nag her husband or complain a lot and her husband feels somehow pressured to make her happy even if it is beyond his means or ability. The secret to true shalom bayit is to look at all the good you are blessed with, be truly grateful and learn to live in the moment, appreciating and enjoying everything you have to the fullest extent without dreaming of a “better” situation. You can of course pray for things you want, but do not get wrapped up in self pity or frustration or anger at your situation. Enjoy what you have. Enjoy your family. In previous generations people made do with very little and knew how to enjoy life and be very content with their blessings. Of course we always need to grow spiritually. The Rebbe always used to say: when it comes to material matters, compare yourself to people who have less than you so you are content in your life. When it comes to spiritual matters, compare yourself to others on a higher level and strive to improve yourself.
To learn more about Marital Harmony please see the section entitled shalom bayit under the section Marriage.