Mar 032015 1 Response

The Mirage of a Good Marriage

Peacemaking is at the heart of a healthy marriage. Peace is not something received or given, it is made.

Some of the most important skills a couple can learn early in their relationship is how to make peace. On big issues and small, a couple’s ability to communicate their own opinions, understand the opinions of one another, brainstorm and determine a common ground, and to be satisfied with the mutual solution, defines marital success.

Healthy couples learn how to make peace. (See: Why Nobel Peace Award Winners Get Divorced)

Unhealthy couples often live with a counterfeit of peace. They deceive themselves into thinking they are on the same page with their spouse,when actually they are miles a part.

The marriage is a mirage. Others might believe they are healthy. The couple might even assume they have a good marriage. The truth is that they have the appearance of health, but not its substance.

There is a significant difference between true peace and its counterfeits.

Knowing the types of counterfeit peace is the first step to rejecting the mirage and finding the real thing.

Four counterfeits to marital peace:

1. Denial. A complete unwillingness to confront issues which create tension is not true peace. It might appear like peace on the surface, but the tension is still present. Peacemaking requires courage, and many people simply do not have the will necessary to have hard conversations, be honest about true feelings, and listen openly about how their spouse feels. Instead of experiencing true peace, they live in a denial as though everything is perfect. Denial exchanges long-term happiness for short-term ease. (See: Why Some Relationships Succeed and Others Fail)

2. Ignorance. While denial knows there is a problem but chooses not to admit it, ignorance is a complete lack of awareness of any issues. I see more men in this situation than women. For a variety of reasons, some people do not have the ability to rightly evaluate the perceptions of others. They assume all is well when any objective person can see major problems. At times, ignorance is easily solved as one spouse has the courage to tell the truth to the other spouse. At other times ignorance is deadly to a relationship because someone who is incapable of recognizing problems is often incapable of solving problems even when they are defined.

3. Capitulation. When one spouse is forceful and the other is submissive, a pseudo-peace can be formed. Issues appear settled, but a mutual peace has not been truly established. One person has forced their way and the other person has submitted in action but not felt heard, understood, and appreciated. If one spouse always gets their way, true peace has not been formed. Peacemaking requires piece moving. Each person has to be willing to move from their position in order to find unity in the marriage. When one is always moving and the other never is, a marriage might appear at ease, but it does not possess true peace.

4. Hypocrisy. Everything appears great on the outside, but the moment the couple gets in the car or gets home, the true nature of the relationship is revealed. It’s not wrong to keep problems private, but it is wrong to have one’s home life to be radically different from the perception of others. If a couple is dramatically happier in public than in private, they need help. Pretending to be at peace is not true peace; it’s hypocrisy.

There are few things better than a marriage truly at peace. It doesn’t mean a couple is of the same mind on every issue, but it does mean they regularly find common ground in a way that energizes the relationship.

In a marriage where peace is pervasive, each individual is able to describe their spouse’s feelings, identify ways their spouse has changed them, and define the solution the couple has determined about each potentially divisive issue.

They may not agree. As a matter of fact, deep differences likely still exist, but a workable solution has been found with each person feeling heard and understood. (See: How to Protect Your Marriage)

A peaceful marriage may actually have more disagreements than one with a counterfeit of peace, because a healthy couple is not afraid of differences. They see disagreements as an opportunity to learn and grow together.

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