13 Apr

There are so many marriages where couples are “keeping score” and the goal is to try to keep everything equal, or fair, but the problem is when you keep score nothing will ever be qual for fair because it is a competition, and there is always a winner and a looser. For couples that keep score and are tying to keep everything equal and fair, it is a mirage that they will always be chasing.

If you are in a marriage where this is the case, here are some things you can do:

1. Don’t keep score

If you’ve read the book “The 80/80 Marriage” which we have talked about several times, and was probably one of the best books we have ever read, you remember that it focuses on how couples shouldn’t keep score, and why doing that can be so devastating. The book also talks about how the 50/50 marriage model that is so prevalent in society does not typically work, and the reasons why it doesn’t.

When couples are keeping score, they start focusing on every little thing that each of them are doing, or not doing, and they are always worried about things being perfectly equal. The truth is, things will never be perfectly equal and that is ok! There are going to be some days that one spouse does more than the other and vice versa. That is the way marriage is and should be.

The other reason you shouldn’t keep score is when you are comparing (or keeping score), you are always against each other and it truly becomes a competition, rather than working together as a team which is the way it should be in marriage.

When you keep score, there is ALWAYS GOING TO BE A WINNER AND LOOSER. If your wife goes out with friends, she wins and you loose. If you go golfing, you win and she looses. You can see how everything then becomes a competition for time, money etc and you are never going to make things fair.

The more a couple tries to make things fair, the more miserable they will become.

Instead of focusing on what’s fair and trying to get to the 50/50 in everything that you do, try looking at things as if you were a team working together. There might be times you have to carry the team (so to speak) where one spouse is doing more than the other. You are on the bench and your spouse is in the game, but you are still on the same team and have the same goals. Forget about keeping score and just continue to play. If you spend time keeping score, it will just make you more frustrated and upset. 

Here are the reasons you shouldn’t keep score

1. It creates a competitive atmosphere rather than a team atmosphere

Keeping score in a marriage creates a competitive atmosphere where each partner is focused on who is doing more and who is doing less. This can create tension and conflict in the relationship, making it difficult to build a strong foundation of trust and mutual support. When partners feel like they are constantly competing with each other, they may become resentful and hostile towards one another, which can damage the relationship.

2. It breeds resentment

Keeping score can lead to feelings of resentment and bitterness. When one partner feels like they are doing more than their fair share, it can lead to feelings of being taken for granted and unappreciated. Over time, these feelings can build up and cause resentment towards the other partner. This can damage the relationship and make it difficult to move forward.

3. It can and will damage intimacy

When couples keep score, they can become more focused on tasks and responsibilities than on each other. This can make it difficult to build and maintain intimacy, which is a key component of a healthy and happy marriage. Couples who are constantly keeping track of who does what may find it difficult to connect emotionally, leading to a lack of intimacy in the relationship.

4. It creates a power imbalance

Keeping score can create a power imbalance in the relationship. When one partner feels like they are doing more than their fair share, they may feel like they are in a position of power over the other partner. This can lead to feelings of resentment and hostility, and can make it difficult to build a relationship based on mutual respect and trust.

So if you are in a relationship where you feel like your spouse isn’t committing to the relationship at the same lever you are, or if you are feeling like your marriage is “one sided” what can you do?

Communicate with each other

Share your feelings and exactly how you feel (DONT ASSUME THEY KNOW). Then listen to them express their feelings and concerns. So often we get in conflict because we make assumptions. We also assume that the other person knows how we are feeling when most the time they don’t. It takes a lot of communication (and listening) and working together.

If you have a spouse that won’t talk about it, then listen to episode 128. What Do You Do When Your Spouse Won’t Talk About Sex…Or Other Tough Topics?

It can be very frustrating when one spouse wants to talk about things and the other spouse won’t. Here are some of the reasons why a spouse doesn’t want to (or won’t) communicate in marriage:

  1. They don’t want get in an argument
  2. They get uncomfortable talking about difficult things, so they shy away from talking about them
  3. They have a different communication style such as the hoarder

Write a letter to them with your thoughts about how you feel.

There are many things a letter can do that communication sometimes can’t do:

  • You can often share your thoughts and feelings on paper easier than in person
  • You don’t forget what you were going to say or express
  • Writing a letter allows the other spouse to read it and have time to think about it
  • Your spouse doesn’t have to worry about feeling uncomfortable or getting into an argument when you write a letter
  • There is a lot less room for someone to misinterpret things

If you have exhausted all efforts on trying to communicate with your spouse and it just isn’t working, try putting your thoughts down on paper in a hand written letter and see if this transforms your marriage.

Serve them

Most of us feel like if our spouse is not putting forth the effort, then why should we? The natural tendency is to pull away thinking “if they aren’t going to try then why should I?”

When you serve your spouse, they will feel your love for them. You will naturally grow closer together when you serve them. It is almost impossible to serve someone and not have them want to serve you back or for them to realize the love you have for them.

Control what you can control (yourself)

Do things for yourself and goals you have. That doesn’t mean to ignore or withdraw from your spouse, but focus on the things you can control such as yourself in the way you act, react, and live your life.

Set Boundaries

Determine what you are willing to tolerate and not tolerate and make that clear to your spouse. Now we are not suggesting you give them an ultimatum, or threaten them as that is toxic behaviors, but establish boundaries for yourself and what you are willing to tolerate and not tolerate.

Seek counseling if needed

Sometimes couples just need a different point of view or opinion if they can’t work things out on their own. Often times an independent or third party can offer some great insight and help resolve the situation.

In marriage, it takes two. If one spouse is not willing to work on the relationship or has no desire to, then you need to find out why. Once you find out why, then you can resolve any issues and get back on the path to finding ultimate intimacy in your relationship.

Also check out our great podcast episode on this subject titled: 145. Why Keeping Score And Trying To Keep Things Equal In Marriage Doesn’t Work, And Will Make Your Marriage Miserable

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