Recently, there has been a firestorm of excitement among the Christian community. “Fireproof” has been endorsed by many Christian ministries. For a review, visit ChristianityToday.com. The movie focuses around a firefighter and his spouse whom are on the brink of divorce. The husband commits himself to taking “The Love Dare” for 40 days with the idea his marriage will improve after 40 days. Not withstanding, it is difficult concept to appreciate for a marriage on the brink of divorce. The movie portrays well the negativity that has settled in to the marriage, even when one partner is committed to inject love and hope back into the marriage. The book love dare follows Biblical scripture and provides day to day practical activities to heal an ailing marriage. For Christians, it is clear how it works and it’s power. Non-Christians may dismiss it due to the spiritual content and as one more attempt to “push religion.” The question that they may be wondering about is, “How does the book “Love Dare” with is practical, day to day advice, measure up against the marriage research on injecting love and passion back into a lifeless marriage? And, why should I take it?”
First, know that Christian’s divorce at the same rate as Non-Christians. Divorce is non-denominational. Research shows that all marriages have an “emotional bank account.” Imagine that each person can make deposits into and withdrawals from the account based on each and every interaction they have with each other. The marriage itself keeps track of the day to day deposits and withdrawals, much like a checkbook register. Each person may have their perspective on whether or not the interaction was positive or negative. I propose that if it is viewed by one person as negative and a withdrawal, it counts as a withdrawal regardless if the other counts it is a deposit. Why? The marriage keep track of the withdrawal in the register vs the deposit.
Couples who eventually divorce have a ratio of deposits/withdrawls as do couples who remain happily married. For the former, for every $125.00 in withdrawls made, only $100.00 is deposited into the account. Mathematically speaking, it is easy to see how a couple who is married for only a short time can quickly be headed for divorce. They are overspent and in deep indebtedness. The marriage will foreclose rather quickly.
For the later, for every $100.00 in withdrawls made, $500.00 is deposited into the account. Small, day to day, positive interactions during non-conflictual times serves as a huge reserve against times of crisis and serious repair. These marriages can and do weather the storms.
Example 1: Happy Couple
9AM: Husband smiles at wife and gently rubs her back. Wife smiles at him and tells him she loves him. Deposit: $100.00
9:30 AM: Wife makes coffee and brings husband a cup in the bathroom. Both smile at each other and make eye contact. Deposit: $100.00
9:45 AM: Wife makes a comment about the news she is watching; husband responds with an interesting comment back. Deposit: $25.00
10:00 AM: Wife complains because spouse forgot to take out steak from the freezer the night before like she asks. Husband responds defensively and goes and gets it. Wife is upset because this has happened many times before. Withdrawal: $75.00
and so on.
Example 2: Indebt Couple
9 AM: Both roll out of bed, don’t say anything to each other: Both want attention but neither gives. Withdrawl: $100.00
9:30 AM: Husband makes coffee and has breakfast by himself. Wife comes out and gets her own coffee. Wife longs for him to bring her coffee while getting ready. Withdrawl: $50.00
9:45 AM: Wife comments on something she sees on TV: Husband stonewalls (does not say anything). Withdrawl: $75.00
10:00 AM: Husband has gotten the steak out the night before and has left a love note and small gift on the table for his wife. Wife appreciates his remembering and the gift. Deposit: $100.00
Still in debt…
Frequency, not intensity, and duration
While grand gestures may have a large qualitative value attached to it as a deposit (as in the end of the movie ‘Fireproof’), when withdrawals have occurred numerous times daily and over the course of time, large value deposits are effectively worthless against the debt that is owed. This is the reason why a spouses attempt to do something grand and/or expensive to help an ailing marriage (like a vacation, jewelry, chainsaw) often has very short term value without changing the day to day deposit/withdrawal ratio.
Take the Dare
This is where the value of the “Love Dare” lies for non-Christians and Christians based upon marriage research. Remember, Christians divorce as the same rate as Non-Christians. Divorce is politically, gender, socio-economic, and religiously neutral. The “Love Dare” with it’s slow and steady approach can begin to investing in the marriage on a daily basis. The dare-taker can have their negative perspective of his partner reset (more later on negative perspective), thus giving the marriage more time to heal. The more indebted the marriage, the more time it will take to get out of debt and obtain a positive balance – just like finances. 40 days may not be enough, and yet, God-willing, 40 days may be more than enough. It will take time, patience, and faith. It will then take a daily renewal of your marriage for the rest of your life.
1 Corinthians 13:13
“Now these three remain: Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”