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Marriage ScoreCard

Photo Credit: Steve Halama
You may have heard marriage described as a 50/50 proposition with each partner contributing 50% to equal the presumed goal of 100%.  While marriage is not a game, it is common to judge our effort like contestants in a competition.

I pick up the mail and take out the trash; you prepare the meals and I clean up the kitchen.  We each have skill sets and when we both view a task as unpleasant or see ourselves as not well suited for a task we rely on the other or negotiate.  I'll do this if you do that.

One danger of being in this contestant mode is I  may make myself referee and scorekeeper.  Somehow my point total is typically inflated and contrary to Mary Frances' appraisal.  I begin to think I deserve something in return for the winning score.  Although humorous and apparently a laughable male trait, it is self-defeating and leads to disappointment and perhaps even disillusionment.

When I judge Tom does not appreciate all the work I do both at home and in the office, I can find myself in a colossal self-imposed pity party.  I can even fall into the trap of "I always" and "you never" and we all know where that 'almost' always leads . . .   Competition can get ugly and that is not what we want for our marriage.  No one wants to sleep with a Loser.

So, How do we break out of this defeating downward spiral of keeping score?  On our Worldwide Marriage Encounter Experience Tom and I learned how to communicate by being vulnerable instead of competitive with each other.  This may sound radical, but it works for us.
Photo Credit:  Matteo Vistocco

We do this by simply calling a 'Time Out.'  Tom often makes the call, as he gently reminds me, "Hey we're on the same Team."  This allows me to almost immediately de-escalate.  It is a fundamental truth of our marriage and we both know it.

This simple reminder is almost mesmerizing; immediately melting my anger.  It enables me to let down my defenses and we both listen to the other as Teammates.  I can share my feelings of frustration, hurt and disappointment that were bottled inside.  Sharing these feelings helps us to recognize and let go of the self-defeating attitudes that fuel the competition game.  When we are not competing I have the freedom and the confidence to ask Tom for help.  When we have been vulnerable like this, we can go to bed as Lovers.  We are both winners (but we're not keeping score).


  1. I have a hard time with the saying that Marriage is a 50/50 relationship. If you give 50% into your relationship you will never have a great marriage, it takes a 100% effort from both to succeed and have a great Marriage. If you only give 50% at work you will not be employed long, so why only give half an effort with your relationship!

    1. We agree wholeheartedly! Marriage requires 100%from each of us and it is even more likely to be successful if we are working as a team toward similar goals.


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