“Generosity is something freely given as a gift, with nothing expected in return. When a relationship feels secure, it is easy to want to offer more than your fair share of tasks or thoughtful gestures to show your love for your partner. Whether moving their clothes to the dryer for them or going on their favorite hike again, highly fulfilled couples tend to maintain great satisfaction from being thoughtful and generous toward their partner rather than scorekeeping.” ― Kari Carroll, couples therapist
Are you a relationship score keeper? Do you calculate who has done what in your marriage? Do you find yourself thinking “I gave the kids a bath tonight so you should be the one taking the garbage out”…?
There are many ways that spouses keep score – how much sleep you had, how much income you provide, time spent with the kids, chores, how much free time you get, how tired you are, etc…
According to Jonathan Haidt’s The Happiness Hypothesis, “When husbands and wives estimate the percentage of housework each does, their estimates total more than 120 percent.” We typically think that we do more than we actually do. I know that I complain about the amount of time I spend doing laundry, but I often overlook the time my husband spends prepping meals and cutting the grass. This type of calculation can lead to resentment and an inflated sense of entitlement.
Learning to give without expecting anything in return is key to a happy marriage. As a married couple, you should both give without the expectation of getting something back. One of the key behaviours often missed in relationships is appreciation. Do you show appreciation to your spouse when he/she completes a task or does something nice for you or the family? Even the every day mundane chores? Life can get monotonous and appreciation for the little things seems to get forgotten as time goes on.
Here are a few tips to help you stop keeping score in your relationship:
- Be open and honest with your spouse about the things that drive you crazy! It’s better to learn how to communicate effectively than to keep those idiosyncrasies in your head. Lack of communication is the prime reason resentment builds up. By learning to communicate in a healthy way, you will find it easier to stop keeping score.
- Be intentional about not keeping score!! Be generous about doing things for your spouse and your family. Do it because you love them and like to see them happy. Don’t do the dishes just because you want your husband to put gas in the car. It’s not about one plus one that makes a marriage equal. It’s about being intentionally generous for the ones that you love!
- Focus on what it is that your spouse does for you. I think that if you are intentionally looking for the things that they do, you will notice that they do A LOT more than you thought! Too many couples will notice what their spouse DIDN’T do much easier than noticing what they DID do.
- Show appreciation for the things your spouse does. We often spend a lot of our time griping about the things that don’t get done, but rarely recognize the things that DO. Keeping score is very one-sided – we seem to mentally track all the times our spouse doesn’t do what was asked of them. Have you ever kept score of all the times they did?
Now when you find yourself thinking, “I’m the only one around here who bothers to…” or “Why do I always have to be the one who…?” remind yourself of all the tasks you don’t do! Before you start yelling or feeling resentful, take a step back and intentionally make a list of all the things your spouse has done today. I bet you would be surprised!
Aimee Allen is known all across Social Media as “The Happy Stepmom”. Happily married to her husband Mike, she is both a biological Mom to her son (18) and daughter (16) and also a stepmom to Mike’s son and two daughters (15, 11, 9). She has made amazing relationships with other stepmoms that she has met over the internet and loves to chat with them daily. She feels that it is extremely important to make connections with other stepmoms as communication is crucial in this complex role. Her mission is to help other stepmoms understand that they too can be happy with stepfamily life despite the unique challenges that they face. A child of divorced parents herself, Aimee never realized the challenges of being a stepmom until she became one. “I was always focused on the challenges of being the kid with divorced parents. I never thought about what my stepmom was going through all those years.”Aimee can be found on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and has recently launched her new blog! Visit Aimee at www.thehappystepmom.org.