Mar 272013 6 Responses

Why Nobel Peace Award Winners Get Divorced

Every time I think marriage should be easier, I remember Nelson Mandela, Henry Kissinger, Kofi Annan, and Shimon Perez. All four won the Nobel Peace Prize and all four were divorced. They were able to navigate the subtle dance of international diplomacy but were not able to figure out how to lie in bed at night with the same woman for one lifetime. If they couldn’t have lasting marriages, it shouldn’t surprise us when we struggle in our marriages.

We often think of marriage as the holy matrimony of two completely compatible individuals. In reality it’s the Blue and the Grey, the Hatfields and McCoys, the Roadrunner and Wiley Coyote.

A husband and wife are two completely different people, with different experiences, different backgrounds, different genetic makeups, and with different expectations trying to live life together. Conflict is guaranteed. While we shouldn’t seek it, we should embrace it because making peace in the midst of conflict is the task of marriage.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” One of the great blessings of those who learn to make peace is a healthy marriage. Those who can’t find a way to make peace are left with the chaos of conflict. Their temptation is to become a war-maker, winning battles but losing everything else.

The task of marriage is to find common ground in the midst of differences. To choose battles and fight them fairly. To lock arms and attack problems instead of attacking each other. To be changed by our spouse for the good and to be used by God as a change agent for our spouse.

The task of marriage is peacemaking.

Notice it is peacemaking. Not peace-receiving.

Peace is made. It is struggled for and fought for. It is attained through hard work, sacrifice, energy and effort. Peace is not something which magically comes to us. Jesus didn’t say, “blessed are the peace-receivers.”

Many people think peace is a natural byproduct of being married. Believing that love is not a choice, but a force, they think peace will naturally come when they marry the right person. No effort. No energy. No conflict. Just peace.

It’s a lie. Peace is not received; it’s made. And it takes everything we have to make it.

I see a close connection between the Beatitude “blessed are the peacemakers” and all the other Beatitudes. The previous six blesseds teach us how to do the seventh. So how do we become a peacemaker in our marriages?

Begin with humility. It begins by knowing that we don’t know. It starts by appreciating our inability. The couples in the most danger are those who think they know how to be married. Their arrogance will kill them. It will make them assume their spouse is wrong. It will make them believe their spouse is the problem. It will keep them from seeing their own imperfections and mistakes. Unless we begin with humility, we will have little chance of making peace.

Mourn over sin. We are fallen people living in a fallen world. We must grieve our mistakes. Grieve the sorrow of the world. By mourning sin, we are reminded of our imperfections and open to correction. Being reminded of our sin, we are more understanding of the mistakes of others. Show me someone who fails to mourn their sin and I’ll show you someone who struggles to give grace to others.

Operate meekly. We should neither be overly aggressive nor apathetic. Both are sinful ways to approach marriage and life. Meekness causes us to confront problems but to do so in humility.

Pursue something greater than yourself (or your marriage). When marriage is submitted to a higher pursuit we are more likely to persevere through the tough times. Problems are viewed in context. They are neither blown out of proportion or ignored. Every marriage has a choice: we can either fight with each other or we can fight against each other. When we pursue something greater than ourselves, we will fight alongside our spouse toward that higher calling.

Give and receive mercy. We can never make peace apart from mercy. Mercy must be received because we are not perfect, and it must be given because our spouse isn’t perfect. Without mercy, there will be too much friction for peace to exist. Mercy allows intimacy and produces intimacy.

Forget perception and focus on the heart. Peace cannot be made as long as we are focused on the perception of others and not the heart of the marriage. Peace can never come from the outside/in; it must always come from the inside/out. When we let go of the perception of having a good marriage and become concerned about actually having a healthy marriage, peacemaking becomes a primary focus.

If I could narrow the major task of marriage into one concept it would be peacemaking. True peace—not just the appearance of peace—where both partners feel heard, understood, and fully human, is the cornerstone to a healthy marriage.

“Blessed are the peacemakers.”

How would your marriage be different if you believed your main task was being a peacemaker?

6 Responses to Why Nobel Peace Award Winners Get Divorced
  1. […] When they arrive, I welcome them into my office and as I shut the door, they have three options on w... kevinathompson.com/first-step-solving-marital-problem
  2. […] convencido de la causa No. 1 de divorcio no es el adulterio , problemas financieros o diferencia irr... columnadeluz.net/la-causa-numero-1-de-divorcio-no-puede-ser-lo-que-usted-piensa
  3. […] convinced the number one cause of divorce is not adultery, financial problems, or irreconcilable dif... pagadiandiocese.org/2015/01/27/the-no-1-cause-of-divorce-may-not-be-what-you-think
  4. […] Healthy couples learn how to make peace. (See: Why Nobel Peace Award Winners Get Divorced) […]... kevinathompson.com/the-mirage-of-a-good-marriage
  5. […] convinced the number one cause of divorce is not adultery, financial problems, or irreconcilable dif... kevinathompson.com/number-one-cause-divorce
  6. […] In each instance, we came from different backgrounds with different understandings and the thoughts ... kevinathompson.com/understanding

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