It’s been just over a year since I got married. I’ve been reflecting over this first year of marriage that everyone has cautioned could be one of the hardest years we’ll ever go through. What were the hardest parts? I can only speak for myself, but for me the hardest thing is to stop keeping score.

Can you relate to any of these thoughts?

“I cooked every day this week and he’s only helped with the dishes twice.” “That’s the third time he said he would do that and he still hasn’t done it.” “I already do this for him, why doesn’t he do that for me?” “He didn’t do this for me, so I’m not going to do that for him.”

Marriage is not 50/50

At some point in time my brain got wired to count, to keep score. She only gave me two cookies when she had six to share. She took four days to reply to my email so I’m going to wait four days to reply to hers. This counting has carried over into marriage. And it shouldn’t.

My dad taught me something rather profound before I got married. He asked me how I saw marriage. I said it was a partnership where it takes two people pulling their weight to make it work. He told me that was the wrong mindset. “It’s not a 50/50 thing,” he said. “It should be 100/0. Even if your other half doesn’t do what he has promised to do. Because you and your husband are ONE.“

I remember being quiet as that sunk in. My husband and I are ONE now. It got me thinking back to when I was single and living by myself. If there were dirty dishes in the sink… I’d wash them. If there was laundry to do… I’d do it. Balances the expenses? I’d do it. Anything that needed to get done, I did it because there was only one. I did all the cooking AND all the cleaning.

Pride versus love

And that’s where it clicked for me. Being married is really all about learning to become ONE unit. There isn’t room for counting and keeping score because I’d be counting against myself. I usually give myself a lot of grace when I couldn’t get something done… don’t you? So why was it so hard to extend the same grace to my husband that I’d gladly extend to myself?

I can see now that keeping score is really a form of pride. In all relationships, especially in marriage, pride is a killer. Pride is the root of all grudges, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, and condemnation. I don’t want those things taking root in my home. Pride blinds us to the fact that the very things we hold against our spouses are probably the same things they would hold against us. One might say, “You never help with the dishes!” and the other will say, “You never clean the bathroom!”

Instead of focusing on pride, imagine if BOTH husband and wife saw marriage as a partnership where both parties gave 100%. Of course, they would talk honestly and openly about what needs to be done and who should do it. But they would gladly go beyond the call of duty whenever their partner could not accomplish their tasks by lovingly offering to do them without asking for anything in return. A marriage like that would grow and flourish! They would have all this extra emotion and energy to invest in each other! Why wouldn’t I want a marriage like that?

Keeping score turns everything into a competition with rules and boundaries, winners and losers. But if my husband and I are one, we will work as a team. I don’t want to win or lose a competition; I want us to cooperate instead. Rather than a home filled with prideful scorekeeping, I want a home filled with grace and love. That kind of home begins with putting down the scoreboard and giving each other our all. From what I’ve seen in marriages much older than my own, it’s going to be totally worth it.

This article was written by: Andrea Shair

Photo Credit: Allie Milot