How to Stop Keeping Score

how to stop keeping score husband and wife drinking coffee in the morning

In pursuit of Happiness with The Happy Stepmom – Stop keeping score!

“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 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, income, 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 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.

Here are a couple of tips to help you stop keeping score:

  • 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 makes a marriage equal. It’s about being intentionally generous for the ones that you love! Also, 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 they did!
  • 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 of 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!

By Aimee Allen