Plus: 5 tips for those inclined to go tit for tat.
Keeping score is a behavior that will quickly unravel a relationship. It begins innocently enough, but it ends with huge fights, lots of resentment and plenty of hostility.
People who keep score often begin this behavior as a way to teach the other partner a lesson. Hurt within the relationship is never just hurt; it turns into wanting to hurt someone else so he/she will suffer and know what it feels like. The problem with that is that we are all sensitive to different things, and what hurts one person looks childish or punitive to another.
Most of the people who do this were raised by parents who kept score. It is an immature coping mechanism of dealing with anger, but, like the silent treatment, it ends up destroying both partners' feelings of connection and trust.
Perhaps the worst thing about keeping score is you cannot give points for genuine love. People who keep score spend a lot of energy adding and subtracting which blinds them to the loving gestures their spouse makes each day.
If you have been married long enough, you will see bits and pieces of this in your own marriage from time to time. The key is noting it and stating it aloud in order to stop the behavior. Some people are more prone to score-keeping just as some people prefer the silent treatment to punish their partner. There are ways to circumvent it from ever becoming a pattern in your marriage, and below are my suggestions:
1. Keeping score is handed down for generations. If you are aware of your parents modeling this for you, make sure you tell your partner early in the relationship. If you ask them prior to using this method to help you not use it (in a kind way, not a tit-for-tat way) they will be more likely to listen and help.
2. Be aware of when you use it ... and tell your spouse quickly, "I'm sorry … that wasn't fair. Please forgive me." This is as much a reminder for you, as being considerate of your spouse.
3. Focus on the positives. If you must keep score, keep score of the loving things your partner does each day. This will enable you to see more of them.
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