Before we got married, we agreed that in our marriage, Ashley and I would be completely equal partners. This meant that when I cooked, he did the dishes. When he went out to the movies with with a friend, he would reciprocate the next week and allow me some time out. He would have a lie in on a Saturday morning and I would sleep in on Sunday a morning.
We envisioned that our marriage of keeping score was going to be a perfect partnership in which we would co-existed beautifully … enter reality!
Keeping Score in the first few years
Once we were actually married and living together, we discovered that this arrangement was not going to work as planned because the circumstances were not always black and white. Our circumstances kept changing and so our relationship needed to adapt accordingly.
A lot of things changed within the next few years. One of us was working full-time while the other one was holding down the fort at home. We went from having one child to having two children. During all of these changes both of us had to take turns to pick up the slack as needed. We tried to do it in a way that we could still keep score of who did what so that neither one of us got the short end of the stick.
When we stopped keeping score
At one point Ashley was between jobs and during this time he assumed the role of primary caregiver while I took on a bigger work load. So we were not able to keep score we were just trying to meet each others needs and take care of the children irrespective of who did the chores or the child minding.
Another game-changer was when the kids factored into the equation. As parents we naturally and unselfishly see to the needs of the children while they cannot do things for themselves. This again offsets the balance when trying to keep score.
We needed to re-evaluated our relationship. In doing so we saw that throughout our marriage, and dependent on the situation, there was always one of us who took on the brunt of the load.
We concluded that not only was it impossible to keep score, but also that our roles were constantly changing. We needed to be flexible and to accommodate each other.
How we stopped keeping score
In our experience, marriage is not about keeping score and making sure that everything you do for your loved ones is reciprocated. There is never going to be a time when you are on equal footing. At one time or another one partner is going to bear the brunt and the next time the roles will reverse again. This knowledge changed the fundamentals of our entire relationship.
A selfless kind of love
Ashley is not a man known for his grand gestures but I don’t mind so much because it’s the small acts of kindness with which he wins my heart. The everyday small gestures shows me how much he genuinely cares for me.
From the time that our children were babies until they slept through the night I was the one who woke up to five times a night while he enjoyed a solid night’s rest, but these days I struggle to remember those times because we have progressed into a phase in our marriage where we are never sure which one does more than the other.
We used to have a rule that the last one up made the bed. Now Ashley almost always does this chore whether he is up last or not simply because he knows how much I hate doing it! I never have to ask for a cup of tea because he is like a barista with an endless supply of cup of tea and coffee. Because he treats me with such kindness I can’t help but want to reciprocate that with my own affection and acts of kindness towards him.
We have both begun to naturally do more for each other, even when it’s not supposed to be our turn. When you concentrate on taking care of your spouse instead of waiting for reciprocation you change the dynamics of your entire relationship and keeping score becomes a moot point.
My challenge to you
If in your marriage you feel that you are doing more than your spouse and that this causes resentment in your relationship, I challenge you to start finding ways to show kindness and to take care of your partner even while it’s not being reciprocated. Eventually your spouse will notice and will start reciprocate.
In deciding not to keep score, I don’t feel like I have compromised or lost a battle, I feel like I have gained much more than what I started with.
This has been our experience and I can tell you that we have never been happier than we are now that the scoreboard has been banished.
Keeping score is for amateur couples. Real partners take care of each other!
I’d like to know you comments and what works for you in your marriage, do you do things equally or do you also find that this system of ours works in your home too? If you feel this post helped you gain perspective – please share!