When you Keep Score, Nobody Wins
There’s a popular notion today that the best marriages are 50-50. Equity and fairness are the measuring sticks people use to judge a good marriage. The problem is that’s just not the way God designed it to work.
Scorekeeping Always Separates
Especially when we are stressed or struggling, we tend to run for the scorecards. We think the best way out of a difficult spot is to make sure we “get our fair share” in the relationship. So we begin to keep track of what we’re getting from our spouse, how much we are giving, how much he or she is or isn’t doing, and how often we are winning arguments.
The problem is scorekeeping will always tend to divide you and push you down the Path of Separation. It sets up a competition in your relationship that poisons intimacy and damages your connection. In truth, because you and your spouse are one, scorekeeping doesn’t make any sense.
Jesus Doesn’t Keep Score
Thank goodness Jesus doesn’t keep score on us. No, he isn’t in the business of figuring out what’s “fair.” Instead, he offered himself 100%, giving all for us in order to have us as his bride, in order to live in intimate connection with us. Even in our sinful, broken, and messed up condition.
And God calls us to love like that, selflessly, sacrificially, all-in 100%. This is the verse that the Apostle Paul uses to set up his famous teachings on marriage:
Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.Ephesians 5:2 (MSG)
Taken to heart and put into practice, these three words can have a transformational effect on your marriage. No scorekeeping. No win-lose propositions. No record of wrongs (1 Cor 13:1). Sometimes loving like Jesus means sacrificing for your spouse’s sake, giving up your agenda, or going the extra mile.
And when one of you is in a good place, that may not be too difficult. It gets more challenging when you are both having a hard time.
Us Against the Problem
Scorekeeping creeps in the easiest when you are both struggling. When you are both feeling self-protective and preoccupied with your own issues, that’s when you tend to see what your spouse is or isn’t doing as the problem.
It’s helpful, at such times, to look at the problem differently. Instead of seeing it as you against your spouse, what if you looked at it as the two of you against the issue or problem? What if you made maintaining your connection the goal instead of being right or winning the argument? What if instead of fighting to get your needs met, you focused on meeting your spouse’s needs and giving that little extra measure of love that builds intimacy?
So throw out the scorecards, love each other with Christ-like love, and watch the level of intimacy in your marriage grow to new levels.