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Just One Point

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web-10350655_mI did good. It was my wife’s 30th birthday, and I had the ultimate celebration for her.

We were in our first year of grad school in Seattle, thousands of miles away from friends and family. She was a bit homesick, and just beginning to understand that any season other than Summer means lots of grey skies and rain.

I arranged for some of her closest friends to send her a teacup that was unique to her, and write a note explaining the selection. On her birthday morning, the kids and I setup a tea party and she unwrapped a dozen teacups to complete the setup. It was glorious, and I was feeling quite proud of myself. She felt celebrated and all was well for that day.

I felt like I’d earned the mother lode of “points.” You know, “points” being the relational banking system (which I’m sure was created by men, for men) that illustrate how much one cares for another person. I was convinced that I’d proven my dad’s theory wrong that men can only earn one point per day with their wife.

If you’re not familiar with the point system, it’s pretty simple. Regardless of how great the act of service, expensive the gift, or sacrificial the behavior: Men earn one single point that says they loved their wife well. This point is non-transferable, expires at midnight, and cannot be redeemed on any other day than the day it was earned. It’s somewhat of a joke in our family that even if a husband buys his wife a diamond ring, he only earns a single point. It’s only funny because it is true.

This illustrates one of the great challenges men face in relationships. We want to fix, which is rooted in our nature that we are made for work. Fixing is a part of the drive that men use to make their mark on this world. Intuitively, men know that there is an infinite amount of work that is required in relationships. Searching for that elusive multiple-point gift or act is an ever present goal.

If there were such a gift or act that could solve the relational demands of a marriage, it would reduce marriage into an objective. This objective is what we men say we want, but it’s not what we are made for. The reality is that men don’t want to spend all day working in their jobs to then come home and do more work in their relationship. As a man, I don’t find fault in this desire but I do understand the challenges it presents in relationships. The mystery of a relationship is what creates the context for marriage.

Marriage is a divine mystery, and is something that we unknowingly admit when we get married. We join in this ceremony of matrimony that is far greater and bigger than the two people gathered at the alter. If the goal is to solve this mystery, it requires a view of marriage that is centered around a need we all, men and women, have for ultimate security. There is little security in a mystery, conversely there is little security in marriage. The security we hope to have is worked for and earned, which gives credence to the truth of the “point system.”

Many studies have shown that lottery winners end up worse off because of the wealth they luckily won. They no longer need to work, thus they no longer have purpose. Similarly, earning a lifetime of points in marriage would create an absence of work, an absence of purpose. Instead of hoping to earn multiple points in marriage, we men need to view the process of “earning points” with our wives as a process of getting to know them better. Not for the sake of arriving, but for the process of the journey.



About

Samuel Rainey is a professional counselor primarily working with couples, men, and women addressing issues of sexuality, emotional health, relationships, and spirituality. He is the co-Author of So You Want to be a Teenager with Thomas Nelson. He earned his Masters in Counseling Psychology from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology in Seattle, Washington. When he is not roasting coffee, tending to his garden, or playing golf, he blogs about life process, parenting, and relationships at SamuelRainey.com. He can also be found on twitter @SamuelRainey. He and his wife reside in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee with their four children.


'Just One Point' have 4 comments

  1. July 6, 2013 @ 1:29 pm Melissa

    Laugh your way to a better marriage has a Bible study and several clips are on youtube. Here is a clip to better explain the earning point system! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKhK6i6oXf0

    Reply

  2. July 6, 2013 @ 8:13 pm Julie Allen

    As I read the article I suddenly realized I have given my husband only one point, but the good news is, that’s all he needs…Whether he does well at every turn, or occasionally steers me to the edge of an emotional cliff; he still only needs one point.

    This is a man who will drive a 1922 “get-out-and-push” until it dies underneath him, just so I can have a safe, comfortable, late model ride.
    I have to be very careful with what I say, because he listens for my slightest desire (no matter how extravagant), and does his level best to fulfill whatever it may be.
    After 29 years of marriage, I still find him incredibly intelligent, handsome, hard working and fun-loving.
    He always meets and exceeds my expectations, so I guess that’s why he only ever need one point…And no other man can cash-in that point but “HIM”.

    Reply

  3. July 10, 2013 @ 6:03 pm Gayle

    Just for the info, from the wife’s perspective, you get no “points” if you say or do something that negates the value of the gift (or act). I.e., if you bring home flowers, and a few minutes later, ask why she didn’t take the trash out– no points. If you did all the above tea party fun stuff, but then made a joke out of the dinner your wife flubbed last week– no points.
    The final point you made in your essay is the most important one: it is a process of getting to know one another better. Gifts and events are a fun way to do that; fights and disagreements are a not-so-fun way to do that. But in either case, the behind-the-scenes motive needs to be the same. There needs to be a compassionate love that really cares and seeks to know the other person. A love that would take the trash out for her, that would keep quiet about her mistakes… That’s where you garner the REAL points. ;)

    Reply

    • July 15, 2013 @ 8:42 am Samuel Rainey

      Excellent follow up thoughts, Gayle. Thanks for sharing.

      Reply


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