THE "POINT SYSTEM" MARRIAGE
[This lesson will be introduced by a video presentation entitled, The Ledger People.
Running time: 7 minutes 17 seconds.]
What makes marriage successful? The popular answer to that question is a "no
brainer." In fact, the popular answer to that question is the same in virtually all
generations. If we divided everyone into decades--teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, etc.,
I would expect the popular answer to be the same in every age group.
What makes marriage successful? LOVE!
- I have a question, a rather important question.
- The greater majority of people who marry each other in Western culture marry
because they love.
- They are so convinced that love exists that you would seriously insult them if
you suggested that their love did not exist.
- I can imagine the reaction of a couple working with me in premarital
counseling if I suggested that they did not love each other.
- Talking about someone being indignant and offended!
- Yet, as certain as the greater majority are of their love, almost one in two of
all couples who marry for the first time divorce.
- Of those who do not divorce, a significant percentage are miserable in
- In marriages that do not divorce, more are unsuccessful than are
- How do you explain this situation?
- If the majority of couples who marry are totally convinced at the time of
marriage that they love each other,
- If almost fifty per cent of those who marry divorce,
- If the majority of those who never divorce have unsuccessful marriages,
- How can the key to successful marriage be love?
- "They thought they loved each other, but they really did not love each other."
- Assumption: all divorces occur because of the absence of love.
- Conclusion: all people who divorce never loved each other.
- I have known divorced people who continued to love each other.
- They love each other.
- They have deep feelings for each other.
- They just cannot live with each other; it does not work.
- Many things other than a lack of love can cause a marriage to fail.
- A suggestion: if mutual love is healthy, maturing, and responsible, marriage
will be successful.
- The real question: what allows mutual love to be healthy, mature, and
- There are many factors involved in love being healthy, mature, and
- Consider two key factors.
- A healthy, mature, responsible love has the courage to be vulnerable
because it is rooted in and nourished by trust.
- "I give you my heart because I trust you not to break it."
- "I give you my emotions because I trust you not to trash them."
- "I give you my confidence because I trust you to be fair with me."
- "Because I trust, I know you won't hurt me."
- "Therefore, I am not afraid to be vulnerable with you."
- A healthy, mature, responsible love expresses itself in unselfish devotion.
- "You matter to me."
- "Your happiness matters to me."
- "Your will being matters to me."
- "Your joy and contentment matter to me."
- "You matter so much to me that I will not knowingly make you
unhappy, put you at risk, or destroy your joy and contentment."
- "You are so important to me that I will not hesitate to make sacrifices
- A marriage that chooses to function on the "point system" or the "ledger
system" opposes the health, maturity, and responsible nature of love.
- What is the "point system" or the "ledger system?"
- It is a system that determines what happens in your marriage, when it
happens, and to whom it happens.
- "I get my way this time; you get your way next time."
- "We must be very careful to take turns about everything every time, and
we keep very careful records about whose turn it is."
- "We always keep track of who owes whom what."
- Why does the point system or ledger system work against the health, maturity,
and responsibility of love?
- First, it works against healthy, mature, responsible love by declaring:
- "I do not trust you to take care of me; I must take care of me."
- "I am so focused on taking care of me and making certain that you are fair
to me that I am rarely focused on you."
- "I must protect myself; I must force you to be fair to me."
- "My mother (or my father) was really hurt in her (his) marriage, and I will
never let you hurt me."
- "I do not have confidence in you; I really don't believe that you know how
to take care of me or want to take care of me."
- This approach to marriage proceeds on an insecure foundation of
- Second, it works against love because men and women are different.
- "Duh! That is a brilliant observation!"
- The differences between men and women go far beyond sexuality and
- There are significant emotional differences.
- There are significant differences in perspectives.
- There are significant differences in their approach to life.
- Such differences do not make one superior to the other.
- I have no desire to build or promote stereotypes, but in speaking in this
context it is necessary to deal with generalities. I readily acknowledge that
there are exceptions. But, for the sake of illustration, let me cite two things.
- Illustration one: shopping.
- Telephone rings, husband answers, his wife's friend asks for her, his
reply: "She's gone shopping." Interpretation: I don't know when she
will be home.
- Telephone rings, wife answers, her husband's friend asks for him, her
reply, "He has gone to buy something." Interpretation: call back in
- Women shop; men buy; women search before they buy; men just buy.
- We husbands should be eternally grateful they do.
- If they did not, the economy would collapse, there would be no
Christmas and birthday presents, and we men would wear the same
thing every day.
- Decision making.
- Men solve problems; they consider only facts; they reach decisions
privately with what they consider to be logic.
- Women are intuitive; considerations other than facts are as important
as facts; they reach conclusions by talking about it.
- So what? So men and women are different. What does that have to do with
the point or ledger system?
- They will never be perceived as fair by both husband and wife.
- Men and women's definition of "fair" is different.
- Men and women's definition of "big matters" and "little matters" is
- Men and women's definition of "important matters" and "unimportant
matters" are different.
- Any such system will do three things.
- At times it will make each of them feel exploited.
- At times it will depersonalize each of them.
- Many times it will make both of them feel like they are losing.
When marriage becomes a win/lose situation, everybody loses.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
previous in series
Evening Sermon, 27 June 1999
Link to next sermon
Link to other Writings of David Chadwell