“Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14
Of the plethora of conversations I have about marriage, one issue comes up consistently with both pre-married couples AND married couples: Keeping the peace in the home.
Usually I hear variations of,
- “I don’t want to say anything and stir up a fight.”
- “I’d rather just keep quiet so that we get the issue over with.”
- “I know if I say something, it will start another fight.”
- “Why bother? It’ll just be my fault anyways.”
- “I don’t say anything so I don’t hurt my spouse’s feelings.”
So the spouse will go into a mode of “peace at all costs.” What that tends to mean is “I will whatever it takes to bring peace, regardless of what that means.” But I submit to you that “Peace at all costs,” costs too much.
The “peace at all costs” tactic gives some semblance of the feelings of peace without the actual substance of peace. I’m not talking about taking a “time out” to calm emotions and settle hearts. I speak of the strategy of mollifying your spouse for the sake of avoiding situations that need to be worked through.
“Peace at all costs” is nothing more than an addictive relational drug that will give you a “fix” of serenity. Once you do it, it’s very easy to keep returning to it as it provides a moment of contentment without the hard work that resolution needs. And what I find, is the more you do it, the more hooked you become to it as you now see it as “necessary” for you to continue the habit because of the “harmony” you provide. But in there lies the part of the problem. You’ve made marital peace a “you” issue instead of a “we” issue.
In the end,”peace at all costs” is temporary peace invested in at the cost of the relational strength and skills that should have been built or developed. “Peace at all costs” only pacifies the moment while delaying the necessary conflict needed for relational growth.
Why do people do it?
If you feel you need to have “peace at all costs,” it’s probably because:
- “It’s what worked for my parents.”
- I’d submit to you, it may be what your parents did but it really didn’t “work” and it’s not working for you.
- There’s an unhealthy fear of your spouse.
- Please know, there’s no such thing as a healthy fear of a spouse. If you have purposely developed and enjoy that “M.O.” of having your spouse fear you, then something needs to change in your marriage. There is nothing healthy about that and it’s hurting your marriage.
- Lack of communication skills.
- I don’t have a problem when people lack skills. I struggle when there are habits and attitudes that facilitate the refusal to work on them.
- Inability to resolve conflict or avoidance.
- Not dealing with conflict properly only delays relational growth, suppresses marital health, and empowers the conflict to be handled at a far greater magnitude than originally necessary.
How do we deal with it?
I return to Hebrews 12.
- “Work at living in peace…”
- What I love about his passage is that peace doesn’t just “happen.” There is effort and intention behind it. Real peace is beyond a feeling; it is a state of our soul. As I’ve heard so many say, “Peace isn’t the absence of conflict; Peace is discovered in the presence of Jesus.” And I think we can help our marriage experienced that peace by allowing the One we discovered to be lived out in and through us. And because the character of Christ isn’t natural, it takes hard work to “live at peace.”
- Get some resources to help the both of you on communication and conflict resolution skills. Have some conversations about how this looked like in the homes you both grew up in. Get a vision for where you need to grow and move forward together.
- “…work at living a holy life“
- Before you expect change in your spouse, strive for personal change. Humility is what keeps us in a place where own our humanity and permit the Holy Spirit to do a work within our personal lives. I equate humility to the canister that holds Play-Doh; the more I allow myself to be contained in it, the more moldable my life can be in the hands of God.
- Find a solid Christ-centered mentor who can speak, not what you want to hear, but the encouragement and challenges you need to hear.
- “…and by this”, those who don’t know Jesus will see him in you.“
- I love the payoff of “working” on peace: People see Jesus in us. Please understand that nothing in this says to hide what you are dealing with YET it doesn’t say to bring everyone into your drama. It’s about not taking the issues of “peace” in a passive way. It’s working together, not so you can look better, but so that Jesus is what people see in you. Instead of wasting time trying to facilitate an image of a perfect marriage to show your friends, strive to show the work of Jesus and let that be the testimony of your marriage.
Love you all. Praying for you as you “strive for peace” with your spouse.
Encouraging my effort.
Celebrating our progress.
Thanks for letting me ramble…