Do any of these words describe your marriage?
If your marriage has these attributes, I applaud you for doing the work to gain and maintain these. Or are you like we were and you roll your eyes, thinking, “No one has that in their marriage.” If you do not, do not worry. They are real, they are worth working for, and they make a huge difference to a marriage in the pit.
Without Unity and Peace
Ben and I were engaged for almost four years. It was a very peaceful four years of living together (we didn’t know better). Once we were married, everything changed. Peace and unity were two things furthest from being present in our relationship. Instead, one day after another, the hurts we dealt back and forth deepened a crevice between us that grew and grew. It became so deep and so wide we could no longer see or care for each other like we should. All we could see were our own hurts.
Seeking Unity and Peace Elsewhere
It was not long before we both turned away from each other and sought our peace elsewhere. We could not have real conversations anymore. Intimacy suffered. We lived two separate lives under the same roof. We both wanted peace and unity and neither of us knew how to get it. Divorce was eminent and only a matter of time.
Unity and Peace are Necessary in a Thriving Marriage
It was not until our marriage was broken down and laying in a pile of dust that we learned how to have peace and unity between us. It was necessary to begin to reform our marriage one grain of sand at a time with unity and peace in mind. It took a lot of patience and work. More than that, it took compassion, understanding, and taking the time to have real discussions.
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8
Background: The Apostle Peter pens these words to the Christian churches in the eastern part of the Roman empire, the area in and around present day Turkey. The churches here are undergoing intense persecution due to their belief in Jesus Christ. Peter is encouraging them in this letter to live in a way that maintains their unity.
Peace and Unity in Marriage
In the same way, unity is necessary in our marriage relationships. For most of us, there are times or seasons or maybe even years where we feel, no matter what we do, we cannot get along with our spouse. Every word shared is taken as an attack in what we say; in the same manner, words come as an attack in what we hear from our spouse. It is in times of turmoil, dissension, disagreement, and hurt that we need to be reminded of our need for unity.
This verse begins with above ALL. Our relationship needs to be our priority. This means above everything else, in every way and daily:
Whether words were spoken in anger
Whether the cold shoulder was given
Whether the special date was missed
Whether the criticism stung
Whether the advances were rejected
Whether the same fight happened again
And so on.
We need to prioritize and work on unity together.
This kind of love is a variation of agape. Agape is the love God shows us through Jesus that is unconditional, sacrificial, steadfast and merciful. “Keep loving” is referring to charitable love. It does not repay or revenge the hurts (mercy), and it gives concession or exception (grace). It is the kind of love that is compassionate, kind, and understanding. When our spouse says or does something hurtful (sin), it is difficult to get out of our own thoughts and feelings. This kind of love looks at our spouse instead of looking within at how hurt we are.
“…one another earnestly…”
Earnestly (fervently in many translations) means intentional and without ceasing. One definition so perfectly captured this by saying earnest love is “strained, stretched, and strenuous.”  There are certainly times when the last thing I wanted to do was choose to love Ben and I know he would say the same about me. We really have to painfully choose this stretching or straining to love even when we do not feel like it. And it is painful. But, it is worth it and your spouse is worth your love.
“…since love covers a multitude of sins.”
Do not hear me say that the hurt, pain, wrongdoings, angry words, hurtful acts, and many others, are to be ignored. That is not what “covered” means. It means when the sin is addressed between both parties, love is able to forgive, overlook, hold no grudges, and let it pass by. Hurts have to be addressed in a true, kind, and loving manner. When the hurts between our spouse and us are left unattended, they destroy unity and peace. Any sin or hurt caused by our spouse that is ignored piles up and creates a division between us.
It also impacts how we see our spouse: it is like looking at your spouse through a shaded pair of blurry sunglasses, you can’t see them rightly or love them rightly. With each hurt that adds to it, the lens get darker and darker to the point we can’t see them at all. All we can see is the hurt they have caused us. Usually, it is this division that begins the descent to divorce.
Practicing Unity Brings Peace
These steps can turn a marriage away from division. When unity is pursued, there is peace between the struggles. When there is peace between the struggles, there tends to be less struggles and more discussions. Let me encourage you to be honest with each other and share how various interactions between you impact each other. Do not let them pile up and divide you. When that happens, it is not long before one or both spouses turn away.
1. Unity is a priority
Take the time. Schedule time each day, even if it is right before bed, to discuss how things went between the both of you today. Address any hurts or times you felt hurt.
2. Unity is love
Love is an action. Try to take a breath and refrain from reacting in an outburst toward them in return. Instead, let them know how what happened made you feel in a kind and non-accusing way; then, ask them how they are doing and/or if they are alright. Most of the time, you will find that when others hurt us one of two things happened: we misunderstood or misheard what happened, or two, they acted out from their own hurts.
3. Unity is not easy
Even when it is difficult and you do not feel love in return, show love to your spouse, be willing to go out of your way to show love to them by seeking to understand them, refraining from beating them down for what they did, and maintain a willingness to discuss the issues.
4. Unity is maintained when love covers sins
When the hurt has been discussed, forgiven, and settled; be bold and let love cover it. Let it pass you by, do not hold onto it.
These steps have rebuilt unity and peace in our marriage and it is our prayer they do for you as well. Begin today with this guide to help you pursue unity and peace together.
Free Couple’s Guide HERE
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With unity and peace present in your marriage, what would your marriage have that it doesn’t have today?
In what ways do you feel you are already pursuing unity and peace?
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