Tag Archives: advice

Marriage: Why It’s No Good to Keep Score

This piece originally appeared on The Grit and Grace Project.

My husband has one big rule for our marriage. Babe, if you’re reading this, I know you’d say it’s not a rule – perhaps more of a guideline. But for me, it’s a rule. If I don’t follow it, I go down an extremely unhealthy path, and I know it. So here’s the best “rule” or “guideline” I’ve ever heard for a husband-wife relationship: Don’t keep score.

You might begin explaining this by saying that any healthy relationship can’t be seen as a game. The only reason you’d keep score is if it’s a game of some sort, and if you’re serious about it, you’d better not call it a game. Right? You might follow up with the fact that keeping a record of rights or wrongs is just not a good idea. Let’s ask a few questions about this concept… because I think it’s important.

If you happen to “win”, what are you actually winning? The game of who does more laundry? Or who gives more meaningful compliments? Is that a worthwhile competition? Why or why not? (I’m guessing it’s why not.)

What’s your “winner’s” criteria? Who was the last one to load the dishwasher? Maybe he had a lot on his mind from a tough day at work, or he gets tired of you re-loading it when he’s done. Or is the criteria which one of you usually texts the other one first? All that leads to is fear of not being loved enough, or inaccurately thinking that you love the other person more, just because you send more messages.

What’s the prize? Getting to taunt your other half about how you changed more diapers this week? Or likely being shunned because you’re on your high horse about how you always clean the toilets? That’s not a very good prize.

What if we shifted our thinking to loving our spouses as well as we can, as often as we can? Instead of waiting around to receive love in the way that we’re expecting, maybe we should consider showing them love in the best way we know how, whatever that is. It’s always a good idea to know how your spouse best receives love from you, and how you best receive love from them. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages is a great place to start if you don’t know each other’s “love languages”. Taking the initiative to show love first, no matter the circumstances, can’t end poorly. Being the first to say, “I love you!” when communication is hard, or the first to forgive after an argument might feel like a submission, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Usually, it shows that you’re willing to work and sacrifice to strive for health in the relationship. That’s what marriage is: work and sacrifice. Love comes first, and is quickly followed by commitment – often a “head” matter rather than a “heart” one. You keep choosing love over fear or anger or hurt feelings every single day.

There are always possible scenarios where we need to have a sit-down about issues that don’t seem to be resolving themselves. There are always times that bringing our feelings calmly to the table is the only way to move on from a hard season. But if we stop keeping score, stop trying to play a game of little chores completed and well-meaning jabs delivered, those bigger issues might just stay away longer. Being the first one to show love, forgive and forget might make your spouse feel more comfortable doing the same.

Parenting Plight #6: Advice-Giving Do-Gooders

photo cred: www.annaaparicio.com
photo cred: http://www.annaaparicio.com

No, I’m not talking about you. I’m also not talking about people who give me parenting advice because I asked for it. I’m talking about old lady at the grocery store who eyes my crying baby, who I know is hungry, and suggests several remedies (none of which include feeding the hungry baby) to make him “go to sleep”. Thanks a lot, lady. You’re slowing me down when all I want to do is get home with my groceries and nurse my baby to sleep. Cue face palm.

Another scenario: I’m at Lowe’s (home improvement, not grocery) and I’m wearing my freakishly tall 2-year-old on my back in the Boba. Immediately, I get stares. I’m sure people think I’m wearing a 4-year-old on my back. (I am not knocking you if you still wear your 4-year-old. Babywearers unite!) The reason is she’s been a trooper for all of our morning errands, and I just need to pick up this one thing. I know where it is, and I can be in and out in a few minutes. To avoid leaving my fussy toddler in the hot car, or taking 45 minutes to do a task that should take 10, I strap her on my back, and gallop (you know, because I’m a horse now) into the store for my specialty CFL light bulb in a size and wattage that can’t be found anywhere else in the entire world (read: at the grocery store). A concerned man says to me, “She is old enough to walk. Why are you still wearing her on your back? Just put her down.” Okay sir, let me unleash the unkempt, hot, tired, hangry (yes, hangry) toddler on Lowe’s, and see how many items I buy because they’re broken. No thanks.

I love it when Willy Wonka gets me.
I love it when Willy Wonka gets me.

I know most people are well-meaning with their unsolicited advice. That’s why I do my best to smile, thank them, and promise to go straight home to do what they’re suggested. But if I’m honest, even I sometimes feel the need to give pregnant women or first time parents my tips and tricks and advice and stories and… (case in point) But I typically try to stop myself. Or at least wait for them to ask me. Or at the very least not over share.  Okay fine, we all love to share our stories – that’s why I blog, right? Human connection and relationship building. It’s how we make friends; we feel better knowing we aren’t alone. But I don’t force my stories and opinions, and I don’t say them rudely either. Because I’ve been that parent, the one who is tired and on a short fuse. I’ve been the working pregnant mom, just trying to get a little caffeine boost to have a strong finish to my day, even though I know that I’ve got “x” amount of caffeine allowed in a day and I may have already surpassed it. The barista with the huff and the puff and the judgy look can keep it to herself.

Have you gotten unsolicited advice from well-meaning (or judgy) strangers? How did you handle the situation?