My husband is a huge sports fan. I know the ESPN chime because he gets the notification on his phone every time anything sports-related happens. So, of course, he stays up to date with everything going on with his favorite team because scorekeeping is how he knows how his team is doing. A scorekeeper defined as an official of a sports contest who keeps a record of the score. We all know how important scorekeeping is…I mean, how will people know who’s winning the game?? The officiant is trained to see the mistakes, to be able to judge what’s right or wrong; to know what is a legal play versus an illegal move that calls for a flag to be thrown or the whistle blown. Know that scorekeeping should be kept in the sports arena…and out of your relationship. Scorekeeping in marriage is a game that’s meant to be lost.
Scorekeeping as quid pro quo.
In this thing called life, we have a natural tendency to keep up with the things that we do for each other. We identify with Ms. Jackson when our partner asks us for yet another thing and we look at them, wondering “What have you done for me lately?” Humans are selfish creatures by nature and can quickly and seamlessly transition into doing things for people only so that we can get something for ourselves.
Quid pro quo.
One thing in return for another.
Let me let you in on my life for just a quick second. Remember how I talked about my hubby and his pile of socks? It used to drive me nuts. Like, enragingly annoy me. And I kept a record of how many times I’d pick those socks up and put them in the hamper; I was just wishing that he would just put them where they’re supposed to go. When we got married and had to actually live with each other, it was with the caveat that “divorce is not an option.”
Our room has the comfort of our favorite red chair.
Every round of laundry leaves it occupied by a mountain of clothes until we can squeeze out a few hours to fold up the laundry and put it away.
You can imagine that the pile of clothes is much bigger than his pile of dirty socks.
Let us not discuss the kitchen while I’m attempting domesticity, nor the living room while I’m crafting. We’ll agree to say that I consistently make a bigger mess than he does.
Scorekeeping always has a loser.
And if we were keeping score, my team is down at the half. I’m just thankful that my husband doesn’t believe in scorekeeping in our marriage. Because of that, the last official who came anywhere near our relationship was the minister at our wedding!
So what to do about scorekeeping in your relationship?
Make like Elsa and “Let it go!”
Yes, that’s easier said than done.
When you sincerely love another, in the agape sense of the word, you give.
Act out of the kindness of your heart and because you enjoy seeing your partner smiling and content.
Heard the verse people recite when they talk about giving an offering? 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 says “But this I say, He which sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Each one of you should give just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver.”
Sure, these verses are about giving financially to the church, but did you ever think that it could be applied in sowing love into another person?
Look at Luke 6:37-39: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged, and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned (ie. forgive and let it go.) Give, and it will be given to you (ie. give grace and forgiveness and expect it in return.) They will pour into your lap a good measure– pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return…'”
How to sow bountifully into your marriage.
Pour water into a container; its purpose is to fill that space. Surely once that container overflows, it spills back out. To this end, love works the same way. Heap kind words and actions into another person; it comes back out to you…in their kind words and actions. The more that you pour in, the more should come out.
The easiest and quickest way to nurture a relationship is to resist the urge to nag your partner over the little stuff. Meet them in the middle, learn to compromise, but don’t keep a scoresheet of how much more stuff you’ve done in the relationship.
give without expecting anything in return.
It seems contrary to our nature but give without the expectation of return. Be sure to learn the difference between being selfish or being taken advantage of, but put the pen down and enjoy the game of love.
A favorite book of mine is The Kindness Challenge: Thirty Days to Improve Any Relationship by Shaunti Feldhahn. It’s full of actionable tasks that will increase the love and kindness in any relationship. 30 days is a minimal investment for the maximum results of a healthier relationship.
Say thank you. Show genuine appreciation. Everyone responds well to positive reinforcement and that is really no different from a spouse.
What can I do if I don’t feel like I’m receiving love in my marriage?
Communication one of the biggest problems within a relationship. That is to say, it’s often why love isn’t felt. What is your love language? Does your partner know your love language? Do you know theirs?
We tend to want to give love in the way that we would like to receive it. If your love language is Words of Affirmation, you’ll lean toward praising your spouse as a way to show them love. Well, if their love language is Acts of Service, praise will fall upon deaf ears.
Learn how you receive love and how they receive love.
Worst-case scenario, your spouse has other underlying issues that thrive on keeping score or records of who has done what in the relationship. If you find yourself in this scenario, don’t be afraid to reach out for professional help. Talk with a trusted minister or counselor to get to the bottom of what’s going on. Remember to give grace and work together to move forward.
Want to lose the marriage game? Keep score.
Don’t play that game.
Stick with a winning strategy and throw the scoresheets away.
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