Marriage, a partnership in which a man and woman become one flesh for life, is about hard work and loving unconditionally.
Unfortunately, some couples turn themselves into boxers and boxing judges in their marriage.
They keep a scorecard and give marks for what they do and what their spouses do to find out who is doing more.
Unfortunately, human nature is biased. We tend to maximise what we do and minimise what our partners do. In fact, we tend to remember the good things we do and the bad things our spouses do or what they are expected to do but do not.
A couple of years ago a woman came in for counselling. As soon as she sat down she said ‘maware obonsam’, meaning ‘I have married Satan’! She remembered all the bad things her husband had done in their 10-year marriage.
As a matter of curiosity when she was asked to repeat her story, she said the same things in the same chronological order. She had a scorecard and provided a computer printout!
This lady was then guided to write down the good things her husband had done - from accommodation, car, trips abroad, good fatherhood and housekeeping money.
Her long list then convinced her that contrary to what she claimed, her husband had done a lot for her but she had chosen to look at the weaknesses of her husband and ignored his good side.
Keeping a scorecard
Keeping a scorecard is common even in the best of marriages. You give anything to your spouse and mentally record it, expecting something of equal value in return. You expect your spouse to make you happy and think everything about you is his or her responsibility. You think of what you and your spouse have done in the past and present and begin to debate who has done more. You magnify your contribution and discount what your spouse does.
Anytime you tally up your contribution, you think you are doing more than your spouse. Blame game gives you a feeling of control over your stress and you draw the battle lines. Your spouse feels confused and responds in anger. The one you love who should be your ally now becomes your enemy.
What you must know
No matter how hard you try, you can never balance out your marriage. When you are angry because you think your spouse is not contributing in a way, there may also be something you are neglecting or not doing right. You may be ahead in one thing but behind in others.
There are a lot of seemingly little things you can’t track in your marriage but which may be critical to the health of your marriage. You must also appreciate that everyone scores differently because we have different needs.
What you value may mean little to your spouse. Men must know for example that to women, the little things are the big things. They value affection, companionship and family commitment more than money and expensive gifts. Women must also know that what men also value most is respect.
If you disrespect your man, you disrespect Christ because your husband is the representative of Christ in your marriage and your man will score you poorly no matter how well you do other things.
You can, therefore, never pay back in exact emotional fulfilment what your spouse gives you. Your mathematics will never add.
If you remain resentful and fail to patch up, you see your spouse as your problem. Each time, you think your partner is not doing enough and you tell him or her to do better. You get into a destructive dance and your marriage deteriorates.
Are you keeping a scorecard?
Marriage is not a 50-50 preposition. In fact, it is about injustice. The best way to make your marriage work is to put the focus on you and do your best without counting what your spouse does.
If it should take only one person for your marriage to work, let it be you. Be everything to your spouse. Do your best regardless of what your spouse does. This makes you feel great about who you are. The greater your commitment, the greater satisfaction in your marriage.
Show gratitude for anything your spouse does. Gratitude will help you avoid sarcastic comments, labels and bad body language. Instead, it makes your spouse feel appreciated and motivated to do more for you.
Keeping score is simply a fight over scarcity, but problem solving is how you make mutual decisions and set reasonable expectations.
Prioritise your tasks in your home and support each other to create abundance in your marriage. Each day, think of what you can do to make your marriage better irrespective of what your spouse does.
Love your spouse with your whole heart, body and mind. True love costs and you pay the price by the unconditional sacrifices you make. True love never fails (1 Cor. 13:8).
Love is more than a scorecard because true love does not keep record of wrongs. Your marriage grows when you stop keeping scores. Love does not keep record of wrongs.
Always remember that if God kept record of your sins, you can never stand. Each day, bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may hold against each other and forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Pray without ceasing that God gives you grace to be a faithful servant in His holy ministry of marriage. Let Jesus who subjected himself to scourging, crowning with thorns, being paraded through the streets in disgrace and enduring every injustice for our sake be your model of unconditional love.
The secret of a happy marriage is simple - do your all in your marriage without keeping scores.