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Scorekeeping in Marriage




“Scorekeeping” in our marriage can lead to resentment. It starts with an attitude of “I deserve more” where we keep a tally of all the things we do for our spouse. “I did the laundry so he should do the dishes.” This is compounded by the fact that men and women keep score differently.
Relationship experts John Gray  and Mark Gungor describe how men tend to keep score by doing big things (providing, expensive gifts or nice vacations) and assigning themselves lots of points for each. Women tend to count most things as being worth no more than 1 point each. So, men assume they are doing enough for their wives and may not do much in the way of daily chores thinking they’re “good.” All the while wives believe their husbands are operating at a significant deficit.

Steph:  After dinner recently, Paul helped with the dishes and then said he hoped there weren’t any more chores as he wanted to relax. I thought, “What is he talking about! I have been doing chores all day and he wants to relax?!” My attitude of “I do everything” caused me to become cool and standoffish as I recalled all the things I had done throughout the day and how I didn’t get to “relax”. My scorekeeping kept me from remembering that Paul was doing other chores for our family like working so our bills would get paid. Scorekeeping keeps my actions from being an act of love and turns them into “what’s in it for me.”

Paul: Earlier that day, I did work projects and answered emails for both of us. I also played with our granddaughter so Stephanie could focus on her own tasks. I figured I had racked up a bunch of points, so after dinner I wanted to coast. Of course, I didn’t take into account that Stephanie had also been on the go all day doing laundry, grocery shopping, planning and preparing our meal, and a host of other things. Writing this post reminded me that I sometimes “take her for granted” and give myself more points than I give her.

Steph: One obvious remedy to Scorekeeping is to make sure we show each other appreciation for the little and big things we do in our relationship.  We strive to thank each other for everyday tasks like going to work, taking care of the children, cleaning the house, cooking meals. When Paul does something unexpected like buy me a gift, runs an errand so I won’t have to, or cooks a meal – I’m sure not only to thank him but I am more inclined to want to do things for him too. Remembering to be appreciative goes a long way to keeping us in a good place.   

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