Why we're here...

Love and marriage are the greatest adventures in life, and they point they way to our relationship with the Almighty.

We're honored to be a member of the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association...click on their logo to visit them.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Zero Tolerance?

Last week a new hashtag emerged...high-school students were taking pictures of their "healthy" but unappetizing school lunches, and Tweeting them with #thanksmichelleobama, a reference to the First Lady's support of increasing the nutritional value of school meals.

While Mrs. Obama is being unfairly pilloried - she doesn't prepare the menus, after all, and we did need to move beyond pizza and doughnuts - the kids have a point. Some of the food looks like dog vomit, and would you eat "Spanish Rice" with no salt?

It's just the latest installment of the "zero tolerance" philosophy that has replaced reasoned thinking since the 1990s. If lunches are not nutritious...make the transition from pizza to bean curd immediately. That sort of decisive action will somehow make up for the years in which Pop-Tartswere considered one of the major food groups. Right?


What it's really about is control; it's a convenient way to wield power cloaked in what seems to be common-sense justification.

Telling kids they can't bring a pistol to school is one thing; telling adults they can't take a pair of fingernail clippers onto an airliner is quite another. One makes sense, because it can marry immature intent with capability; the other is moronic, because fingernail clippers have no capability beyond clipping fingernails.

Is "zero tolerance" common in marriage?

I'm afraid it is. Consider these scenarios, which are disguised as House Rules -

  • No eating or drinking allowed in the car
  • No feet on the furniture
  • Don't touch my tools
  • ...and so on
Again, they seem reasonable within certain contexts, but in terms of  "real life" they are typically put up not only to protect personal boundaries...but to project power.

No food or drink in the car? Sure, it'll keep the upholstery clean, and give the illusion of keeping up the value...but cars lose value over time. Fact. Period.

It's kind of like an Asian observation of Western time-saving techniques..."when they've saved all that time, what will they spend it on?"

The interior may be pristine, but a car with 150,000 miles on it is still old.

Feet on the furniture? I personally don't like it much, but after a hard day, someone - like my wife - just needs to put her feet up in a safe place,where she can relax and watch some television.

But furniture is designed to be used, and if I occasionally overlook B's feet on the sofa, she feels at home,and I have allowed a small bit of grace to pass to her...the grace defined by keeping my mouth shut.

But she should never touch my tools. I would much rather she have to drive into town to get a hammer if she can't find "hers", rather than use mine.

I mean, she might break it.

What zero tolerance in marriage accomplishes is the maintenance of distance. It makes my wife feel not only like a second-class citizen, but one under constant scrutiny. On probation.

Zero tolerance is a prison.

Your thoughts?

In you have the chance,please stop by my other blog, "Starting the Day With Grace" at www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com.


  1. As usual, Andrew, you bring interesting thoughts and topics to the table (that I promise not to put my feet on! ha!). Isn't it amazing how these little things can get us stuck and snagged in our marriages? I suppose the reverse is true though too--it's the little gestures of kindness and generosity that mean so much to the deepening of our feelings of love for our mates. But I really liked what you said about boundaries or rules that are actually power grabs in disguise. Hmmm, I'm going to be thinking about that truth today for sure! Happy Thanksgiving to you, dear Andrew! Praying you'll be feeling much, much better very soon!

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by, Beth, and please feel free to put your feet up. That's what the table's for.

      God bless you and yours, this Thanksgiving!

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you, Shelli. The blog has been written several weeks in advance, and I am relearning how to "reply".

      I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, one that is joyous and filled with the Lord's presence.

      Of course, it will be, for God, as we all know, is a Texan. He's BIG.

  3. Thought-provoking, for sure, Andrew ... but I'm not surprised! Thanks for bringing your perspective into our lives. For you sure do make us think twice.

    May this holiday bring you memories that make you smile, and moments that cause you to see His mercies, even in the storm.

    1. Thank you,, Linda. I hope that the Lord is present at your table tomorrow, and that you, too, have a day full of made memories.