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Why you need to stop "keeping score" in your marriage
Who's winning in your marriage by doing the majority of the work? No one is if you keep score. - photo by Wendy Jessen
Are you keeping track of everything that happens in your marriage? Do you make mental tally marks every time your spouse goes out with friends or does something fun? Do you have a mental scorecard of who does what chores in your marriage?

If so, stop!

It's tempting to see the work/housework balance as unequal, or as if one partner is carrying more of the load than the other. This becomes more apparent as you have kids and the tasks naturally increase and the burden grows for the at-home parent.

Perhaps one parent stays at home with the children while the other goes to work all day. The parent at home primarily cares for the children's needs and the house cleaning and the other brings home the paycheck.

The stay-at-home parent may feel over-burdened with the enormity of their tasks without some or any help. The working parent may be exhausted after work and would rather relax than help out around the house or with the children. This can lead to some score-keeping and resentful feelings toward each other.

According to a Washington Post article, it may more likely be "our attitudes towards each other that need to change more than our to-do lists."

Family tasks could be split equally, and one or more partners could still be dissatisfied. Not only do you have to find a balance that works for your marriage, but perhaps you may need to change your attitude about it.

It's likely that "...mothers and fathers are both wrestling fiercely with their work-life balance. [The happiest couples] are those who operate with a deep-seated sense of teamworkwhatever form that may takeand a steady stream of empathy....What we really need to do, it seems, is stop harping on what hasnt been done by the other personand start making every effort to appreciate all that has," states the Washington Post article.

Instead of tallying what your spouse does or doesn't do, focus on the following:

  • Be appreciative for what has been done by your spouse
  • Remember you're both on the same team
  • Be empathetic toward your spouse and what he/she may be going through
  • Step up and help out more when things seem to be lagging in one area or another
  • Contribute fully in any way you can
  • Be supportive of each other
  • Be slow to criticize and quick to compliment
  • Pay attention to your spouse's cues. If he/she seems extra stressed or run down, that's a good time to give them the night off or give some extra TLC
  • Pitch in, especially when you think it's not your responsibility
  • Have regular husband and wife meetings to discuss where you each need more help and what things are working
Stop keeping score and help out more. Raising a familyboth financially and caring for the house and kids' needstakes a lot of work. It's hard. But, remember: you have your spouse on your team. Work together to find what works for you both and change what isn't workingespecially if it's just your own attitude.
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