Healthy Marriage Tips: Who's keeping Score?

Have you ever noticed how much more work you do around the house than anyone else? Do you ever look around and wonder why your husband is sitting on the couch while you do the laundry, wash the dishes, or help the kids with homework?

When was the last time he appreciated you for what you did? When was the last time he helped out without being asked or nagged?

If you are having these feelings, you are not alone. Many women feel the same way and struggle with the same thoughts. In fact, it’s human nature for us to keep track of the offenses. It’s normal for us to keep score. It is human nature, and it’s normal, but it’s not healthy.

Do any of these statements sound familiar?

“It’s your turn to change the baby’s diaper; I’ve done it the last three times!”

“Why do I always have to get up when the baby cries, don’t you hear those screams?”

“I took out the trash last time.”

“I always do the dishes; you never thank me, why should I make such a big deal when you help out for a change?”

“When’s the last time you….”

“I always….”

“You never…”

We begin keeping score when we are children.

Do you remember playing king of the hill on the playground? We grow up with a me-first, one-upmanship mentality. We’ve become accustomed to look out for number one and put our own needs ahead of others. If you don’t believe me, take a few moments and listen to a conversation among children.

“Oh yeah, well I once ate this many pieces of candy.”

“Oh, I’ve eaten more than that!”

“I once ate so much candy that I threw up!”

Or

“My dad is bigger than your dad!”

“My dad is stronger than yours…”

You get the idea. These conversations are silly and childish. Does it really matter who ate the most candy? Is one dad really bigger or stronger than the other?

As silly as it may seem we still keep this mentality when we become adults. We still look through the lens of how we can get ahead. We still put ourselves and our own interests ahead of others.

Sometimes even our selfless behavior can have selfish motives. Many mothers will sacrifice themselves, their interests, and their careers for the sake of the children or family. While the motive may be pure and selfless, many times we still want to make sure our efforts are noticed. We can easily develop a martyr or victim mentality and use our sacrifices as a resource to manipulate and get our way.

Keeping Score

Why do we do this? Why do we worry about such things? Why do we keep score and try to get ahead? We’ve done it as children, we’ve done it as adults, and we often continue to play this game in our marriages.

When we play this game of keeping score, our hearts are filled with pride and selfishness. Marriage in and of itself isn’t easy. Having a heart of pride and selfishness will only make it more difficult. Love is not supposed to be proud or self seeking, but many times pride and selfishness are the behind the destructive game of keeping score.

Pride causes us to put ourselves ahead of others, at any cost. When we are proud, we will put others down to raise ourselves up, even our spouse. Pride can cause us to say hurtful things out of spite, even to someone we love. Yet many times, the ones we love the most see our pride and selfishness at its worst.

We need to stop keeping score and striving to get ahead in the world. We need to stop keeping score in our families and our homes.

  • One keeps track of who brings home the biggest income.
  • One keeps count of household chores.
  • One keeps record of overspending.
  • One keeps track of who initiates intimacy.
  • One keeps count of those intimate occurrences.
  • One keeps record of the mistakes and failures of the other.

The list could go on and on. Sadly, in a game such as this, no one wins. Everyone loses. When we begin to keep score against our spouse, there becomes nothing that he can do make up for the list of wrongs.

We need a new game. We need a game that helps us feel better about our spouse and ourselves. We need a game that helps us put pride in its rightful place. We need a game that will strengthen and renew the love in our marriage.

Instead of keeping score for ourselves, what if started keep score for the other. How would your marriage change if you began to put your pride in your husband instead of yourself? How would your family life improve if became selfless instead of selfish?

Suggestions for a new game:

  • Think of things that your husband enjoys or prefers and then do what you can to make those things happen. Does he like a certain meal for dinner? Prepare it one night this week. Does he like it when you wear your hair a certain way? Take a little time and fix it that way.
  • Put your husband’s schedule and plans above your own. Don’t make your own plans without checking it over with him. Don’t think of it as asking for permission; think of it as common courtesy.
  • Compliment your husband on at least one thing every day. Did he handle a problem with one of the kids well? Tell him how much you appreciated that. Did he take out the trash? Be sure to say thanks.
  • Instead of keeping record of wrongs, begin keeping record of rights. Write down all the times your husband does something right, does something for you or does something you appreciate. You may have to really think hard or write something minor down at first, but this will become easier. If you keep doing this, you’ll begin to notice a lot things that he does right.
  • Be genuinely happy for your husband when something good comes his way. Tell him you’re proud of him. Resist the urge to counter his accomplishments with one of your own.
  • Make every effort to promote your husband. Speak well of him to your mother. Sing his praises to your friends. Make a commitment to never talk bad about him in front of the kids or anyone else.
  • Pray for your husband daily. Ask God for His blessings. Pray that you will see your spouse as God sees your spouse.
  • Keep this game a secret. This is the most important rule. You can’t use this as a way to get ahead or prove that you are a better spouse. Don’t use the compliments you give as ammunition when you aren’t complimented. To truly keep from keeping score out of pride and selfishness, you must give without expecting anything in return.

The goal of this game isn’t to get ahead or to get even. The purpose is to focus on your husband’s positive points. By taking the focus off of our own interests or hurts, we open ourselves to love and respect. When we show love and respect to our husbands, we are much more likely to receive the same in return.

Do you have what it takes to end the game that began in childhood? Can you stop keeping score in your marriage? Can you lay down your pride and selfishness? What will you do for your spouse today?

Take some time to read "What's Wrong With My Marriage? Common Mistakes Made by Husbands and Wives" as well.

I'd love to hear how you plan to put some of this new game into action. Give it a try to let me know in the comment section below any differences you see in your marriage. If you found this Hub helpful, please be sure to vote it up. Thanks for reading!

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6 comments

dotty1 profile image

dotty1 6 years ago from In my world

good read thanku, why oh why are relationships soooo complicated.... I yearn to just be ..and stop wondering what the heck is goin on in their head haha.


lisabeaman profile image

lisabeaman 6 years ago from Phoenix, AZ Author

Thanks Dotty! You're right, they are complicated. I think you should do just what you're yearning to do. Make them wonder instead... :)


LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba

I am happy, I know I am as my wife tells me that I am!


lisabeaman profile image

lisabeaman 6 years ago from Phoenix, AZ Author

Glad you are listening to your wife LeanMan! I highly suggest keeping that up!


Cagsil profile image

Cagsil 6 years ago from USA or America

Hey Lisa, I don't want this to sound like I disagree, because I did find your hub useful and voted it up. However, I would like to address something, as you put it- praise "his" or "husband's" rights and emphasize his wrongs. This can work to a degree and it might hold a marriage together, however, as you probably already know, a marriage is a two-way street and it requires a conscious effort on both. With that said, you could praise him and still not get the respect you want in return? At which point, how long do you go on before you again feel under-appreciated? You always praising him, feeding his pride, boosting his ego and not having it reciprocated. You will be in the same place all over again, and keeping score. You could get to the point where you find yourself praising meaningless things, which should be a conscious and courtesy exchange to begin with. At what point do start keeping score about how often you praise him, but how often he doesn't praise you? It's good hub simply because I think it would hold a marriage together longer than without doing it. I've met many people in my life and seen many marriages fail, simply because of the man's ego alone and his view is directly proportionate to the old school thinking- you're my wife and housework is your chore. This mentality is hard to break and it requires a conscious effort to recognize the actions the man takes, long before you get into a marriage with him. It should be noticed beforehand to be honest. If someone is already in a marriage with a man who has this mentality, then it is best to address the issue before long, because it will only lead to resentment. And, before you ask, no I've never been married, so you can take what I say however you want. I've been told plenty of times during the course of my life that I don't know what I am talking about because I've never been married and don't know what it means to be married. Just like, I've also been told that I shouldn't talk about how to handle kids either, because I am not parent. So, I'll leave you with that. I meant no harm to your hub, I do find it useful, but I just think there is more to it than what you presented.


lisabeaman profile image

lisabeaman 6 years ago from Phoenix, AZ Author

Wow Cags! Thanks for commenting - I think (just kidding). I appreciate your thoughts and I see what you are saying. I think though that you are talking about a deeper problem. The problem that I'm addressing happens when there really isn't much of a problem at all. Sometimes we just get in a funk and feel sorry for ourselves or start an unhealthy game of competition.

What I've noticed in my own marriage is that when I take the time to praise my husband and not worry about if I'm getting praise back, then he appreciates me naturally. However, when I start keeping track of all the times that he doesn't notice the things I do... then I build up resentment and bitterness and nothing goes well. While I can't change his behavior... changing mine naturally changes his.

My hope for this hub wouldn't be to sugar coat or put a band aid on deep marital problems. I wonder, however, if sometime these deep marital problems could have been prevented by setting aside one's pride. If tips like this could hold a marriage together a little longer... then perhaps the spark can be reignited and the marriage can be happy once again - and not fall back.

Thanks for sharing, Cags. I appreciate your wisdom

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