Keeping score in a relationship is, unfortunately, all too common. It becomes even more obvious when it’s the third time this week you’ve done dishes or you literally can’t remember the last time your partner initiated sex.
Why do we keep score in relationships?
Well, we can thank our ancestors for that one.
It stems from our need to prove our “worth” to the group before they decide you’re not pulling your weight and kick you out.
In a weird way, it’s a protection mechanism.
But, we don’t really face that same kind of denial anymore. Your “tribe” won’t kick you out of the cave because you suck as a gatherer. Your life doesn’t depend on you doing laundry.
So this once helpful tactic is now known as a relationship-killer and resentment-breeder.
Instead of keeping us alive, keeping score has turned into a way to prove that we’re right and you’re wrong.
We do more and you’re lazy.
We care and you don’t.
We’ve talked about keeping score in a relationship before (and how bad it is) but maybe you’re just now buying it. Maybe you truly believe that you must keep score to make sure you’re not getting jipped in this relationship.
I mean, how else are you going to justify the fact that it’s his turn to fold the laundry if you don’t have the
exact amount of times you’ve done it this month alone facts to support it?
Why You Shouldn’t Keep Score in a Relationship
(1) It’s All About Me
Well, for starters, it’s because keeping score in a relationship is very me-centered. It’s a way of looking at the relationship as a little lopsided. (a little egocentric, if you will.)
When you’re keeping score, you’re constantly looking for ways that your partner isn’t enough, isn’t contributing, or is disappointing you. You’re operating from a place of superiority, as if they owe you something.
(2) You’re On The Same Team
Keeping score in your relationship literally puts you and your partner on opposing teams. I don’t know if you know this, but teammates don’t “score” on one another. Only their opponents.
Keeping score in your relationship automatically puts you in a me vs them mentality, which is not what marriage is all about.
Your partner is your tribe, your team, your home. They are the one you work with; keeping score against may make you a winner. But your relationship will be the loser, not your spouse.
(3) It’s Impossible To Actually Keep Score
Even if you wanted to keep score of your relationship, it’s impossible.
And not because it would get tiring to count the exact amounts of washed dishes, beds made, or groceries bought but because no task is made equally.
You might consistently wash the dog but your spouse is the only one to ever get the oil changed in any of the vehicles. Are these two tasks equal?
Does making dinner outweigh being the working spouse? How about waking up at 3am for the crying baby? Do you get one or three points if it’s a weekday?
You probably think the tasks you do are worth more/harder than the tasks your spouse does, don’t you?
Well, I hate to break it to you, but there isn’t some gamebook that breaks down these tasks into a neat and tidy point system. Their worth– all of these tasks– are based on your emotions.
So keeping score in your relationship is nothing but fictional points based off of hurt feelings and resentment.
How Do I Stop Keeping Score In My Relationship?
It’s difficult because it’s so natural. It’s basically ingrained in us at this point. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to stop (or at least lessen) it.
(1) Give More
Give freely. Give happily. Give without expectation.
When you stop taking note of all the things you’re doing and they aren’t doing, you’ll look at your relationship in a whole new light.
Doing the laundry because it simply needs to get done and not because it’s going to be used as ammunition in your next fight is freeing!
And eventually, you’ll begin to enjoy serving your spouse again, which will prompt them to also want to serve you.
You’ve heard the rumor about giving in order to receive, right? Well, it works in marriages, too.
If you’re consistently giving, it will inspire your spouse to want to do the same.
(2) Open Your Eyes and Appreciate Them
When you’re keeping score, there’s a very high likelihood that you were hyper-aware of all the things you did for the relationship and forgot to notice the way they bring in the mail each day or scrape the ice off your car in the winter.
Instead of using that laser-focus to see what they aren’t doing, try your hand at looking for all the ways they do help out around the house.
Big and small, thank them for what they do.
Appreciation is one thing every human loves. Being noticed for a job well done, no matter how small or routine. It’s like the essential oil that magically takes away all those aches but you’re not sure how; all you know is that it works.
And once you start, you’ll notice that it just feels good to appreciate them.