Do you remember Mr. and Mrs. Hurst from Pride and Prejudice? She’s Mr. Bingley’s sister, and she spends most of her time playing cards, the piano, and social games. He spends most of his time drinking and sleeping. Their peaceful marriage is striking: there’s no conflict, no hostility. They have a very modern marriage—both partners live their own parallel lives. Peaceful marriages are not as rare as we might think.
A marriage can be peaceful if, like the Hursts, husband and wife carry on with their own interests and pursuits without bothering the other. If there is enough money or space or time to keep pressure at bay, a couple can go through life with very little inconvenience to each other. A marriage can be peaceful if one spouse decides to sacrifice him- or herself for peace. It might be a wife, suffering silently through a husband’s neglect, porn addiction, or emotional abuse. It could be a husband living on the proverbial rooftop (Prov. 21:9), working more to deal with credit card debt, or keeping his head down through nagging comparisons. A marriage can be peaceful when both spouses have the same interests, goals, and life direction, even when those are sinful. Ahab and Jezebel come to mind: they helped each other realize dreams and meet goals.
The measure of a marriage is not the level of peace in the relationship; it’s the source and goal of that peace. Peace that comes from apathy, fear, selfishness, or any other sin is a false peace, one that will lead to ultimate distress and isolation. Peace can happen for the wrong reasons.
But it can happen for the right reasons, too. Christian marriage should be peaceful. That does not mean that there will never be a difference of opinion, serious questions, or iron sharpening iron—peace with error is not peace (Jer. 6:14). A couple can have serious discussions or even confrontation and still be in fellowship with each other. When conflict does arise in a Christian marriage, there should always be expectation of resolution—or freedom to disagree within biblical boundaries.
Peace is freedom from conflict and oppression that results in fruitfulness. In a peaceful marriage, people can work, parent, create, fellowship, and worship. Those things are nearly impossible where there is conflict, fear, or selfishness. A lack of fruitfulness reveals a lack of true peace just as much as conflict does. Real peace is the opposite of spiritual inactivity just as much as sinful activity is.
True peace can only come through true reconciliation and true safety. A husband and wife who have each been reconciled to God through Christ’s atonement are at peace with God. Secure in their relationship with Him, they are able to be vulnerable, honest, and forgiving with each other and to pursue Christlikeness as a team. Sanctification for husband and wife is the inevitable result of a peaceful relationship. In Christ, marriage can be a place of true peace. That is a marriage worth fighting for.