Marriage is not a competitive sportWritten by Focus on the Family
What's inside this article
Back when my husband was just some guy I knew, he and his buddies had a complex scoring method for rating their behavior on a date. They gave points for belching (-1), door holding (+2), swearing (-2), letting the girl pick the music (+1) and any other random action the wingman chose to tally. Ending the evening in the positive column theoretically meant the girl would be impressed enough for another date.
Eventually I found myself on the receiving end of this game – they even expanded the scoring method to include my behavior as well. Apparently, belching was a good thing (+5) while changing the radio station was a big no-no (-10). Walking in the rain without worrying about my hair ultimately earned me enough points to change my last name. Of course, what we now remember about this game is the hilarity, not who ended the night with the most points.
Fast-forward a few years. "Some guy I knew" is now my husband. With our dating days behind us, we no longer carry a scorecard.
Or so I thought, until I found myself home on a weekend (+1) doing laundry (+3) while my husband was out playing football with the guys (-4) for the second consecutive day (-15). I’d stayed home to catch up on housework (+10), but he was off gallivanting with the boys . . . again. When would it be my turn to go out and leave the housework for him? Oh, man, I was accumulating some good points, and next time there were leaves to be raked, they were all his.
Um, did I say points?
I honestly don’t intend to keep score or perfectly balance the division of labor in my marriage. On my good days, my kinder nature wins out. I don’t mind picking up and putting away an extra few items or rubbing the feet of my exhausted husband. When I’m tired or grumpy, however, it doesn’t take much for me to feel as if I’m being treated unfairly. How easily I forget the times when my spouse has served me, focusing instead on the moments when I feel my hard work is unreciprocated.
A better game plan
Am I alone? Am I the only self-absorbed, score-keeping spouse on the planet? After years of observing other couples, I suspect I’m fairly normal.
I’m aware, however, that God wants more for my marriage. He isn’t concerned that I have a "fair" relationship – one in which my husband and I give and take equally – but instead, God wants me to know the joy of a marriage graced with self-sacrifice and love.
I don’t remember the Bible saying that I ought to serve my husband only when I’ve been served. In fact, it says quite the opposite. In Ephesians 5, husbands and wives are given separate commands, and neither is prefaced by the clause, "If your spouse fulfills his or her end of the bargain."
Furthermore, in 1 Corinthians 13:5, we are told, "[Love] keeps no record of wrongs." And yet, when I’m stressed, counting my husband’s wrongs is so easy to do. If I see something undone that is "his job," I have two choices. I can fume in self-righteousness and deduct points from my husband’s scorecard, or I can do the chore myself and simply move on. My goal is to choose the latter.
I admit that my husband and I still occasionally "award" each other points – but only as an inside joke and always in the positive column. We don’t tally our points or compare scorecards. The day I pull out a steno pad to record my husband’s points rather than throw my arms around him is the day we both lose.
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