I’ve never been a guy who doesn’t believe in keeping score. Keeping score in certain aspects allows you to activate those competitive juices that enable you to do incredible things. Sometimes you win, sometimes you “lose,” but if you’re using that competitiveness to keep you moving, to continually learn and grow to become bigger, better, faster, stronger, you’ll ALWAYS win.
So where DON’T I believe in keeping score? In my relationship with my wife. Keeping score is a cancer to your relationship, yet is something almost all of us do. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in who’s doing more for the kids, who’s doing more housework, who’s bringing in more bacon, who planned the last date, who spends more money on themselves, and on and on and on.
People get flat out consumed with trying to even the score. Whether it’s justifying spending money because your partner did, or letting the dishes pile up because you did them last time, in the moment it feels only fair that you get your turn.
But, you’re killing your relationship. You dropped the ball, Probie. You split the team up. You’ve changed your mindset from “us” to “me.” And it’s worse than that, really. Once you start keeping score, in your mind it’s now your partner vs. you. You’ve forgotten that you chose this person to be on your team for a reason, and that hopefully includes having your best interests at heart.
To combat these natural tendencies that only lead to failed expectations and resentment, my wife and I have AGREEMENTS with one another. These agreements help clarify some of the ambiguity of who should be doing what and steer the relationship into a team vs competitive format.
Here are three of our agreements:
Arguing agreements. Arguments are going to happen, and when they do, let’s agree to deep breath when starting to feel heated, choose words carefully vs letting emotions take over and try to hurt other. Give the other person space if too heated to have a rational conversation. That person will do best to remove themselves politely and ask to continue when they’ve cooled down. No rehashing previous arguments or things that have happened to use against the other. Not curse or hit below the belt Not argue in front of kids (When cooled down) Listen to the entire viewpoint of other person without interruption. Repeat back where they’re coming from and ask if correct.
No complaining just to complain. But are welcome to vent about a frustration in their life to use the other as a sounding board, AS LONG as you offer your own possible solution first. (Note this encourages us (and are kids who hear us) to both be owners in control vs victims who have no say in what happens to them.
Bridges instead of walls. Approach the other with something important need to say, but know they may not like to hear it at first, in a gentle tone. Remove the word “you” from vocabulary when feeling wronged/hurt/etc and instead replace with “I’m feeling … when this happens…and wanted to see how we can work together to solve this.” The other agrees not to immediately put walls up but to listen without interrupting because they know it’s only being told in the interest of benefiting EVERYONE.
At the end of the week, we give the other a grade on how they did. This isn’t about competing, but instead helping hold one another accountable so that the things we’ve BOTH agreed on as vital to the success of our marriage are constantly at the forefront.
Tip For Week
Get with your significant other this week and each write the top 3 things that you think could use work to improve the relationship. Then get together, compare lists, and come up with agreements based on these moving forward. At the end of each week, put a reminder in your phone to give eachother your weekly grade, and have a discussion on how things went and how can improve moving forward.
Rather than focusing on only your happiness which may not be getting the results you’re after, focus on how you BOTH can be as happy as possible in the relationships, and you’ll start seeing some incredible results. You can add to your list as time goes by. Key is to keep it going until those new success habits start to replace the old failure habits.