Imagine this scenario. A couple living together decides to divide household chores. They believe it is the most practical way to live together harmoniously. But after a while, the husband becomes too busy with work that he fails to do his share of the chores. The wife gets to do the chores assigned to him and feels irritated about it. She makes the husband promise he would double his chores the next time. The husband, while apologetic, fails to do his part again the following week and things turn into a heated argument. This is a classic example of a relationship that is based on keeping scores. The wife keeps tab of the things that the husband is not able to do, instead of willingly doing it for his husband knowing he is too busy with work.
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It is not just about household issues; it could also be about finances, careers and personal mistakes. When you tend to keep tabs of who should do this, or who is responsible for that, relationships start to become a job rather than a happy union between two people. The concept of fair game in relationships is the reason why some people tend to keep scores. Also, the idea and application of equality among men and women has a major effect on these types of relationships.
Possible reasons why you keep scores
The habit of keeping scores is something that is learned from childhood. It may be something that your parents instilled in you, something you see from older people or the environment that you grew up in. Keeping scores is a habit that may seem harmless in the beginning, but eventually becomes burdening as time passes. It is basically considered a negative trait, and is a habit that is hard to break. However, with self-awareness, recognizing the habit, acceptance, and taking measures to break the habit, getting rid of this trait is possible. It is simply a change in attitude and mindset.
People mostly keep scores when they are angry. Most of the time, the reason is because they want revenge or is planning for payback time. Just like the popular saying in baseball, “Strike three and you’re out!” people who keep scores usually give a person limitations with their mistakes. When the person hits that limitation, that’s when the consequences are laid down. We have a full article on “How to control your emotions” to help you deal with any anger issues.
Do you keep scores?
Are you the type of person who keeps scores? Here are some examples of people that keep scores and the situations they do so. If you find yourself in a situation almost similar to this, then you may be guilty of keeping scores.
- An employee fails to meet his deadline for the second time. His boss, without asking the reason why he failed to meet his deadlines, gives an ultimatum that the third time the deadline is not met, the employee will be out of a job.
- A guy flirts with his pretty officemate and his girlfriend caught him. The girlfriend in turn, goes out on a date with her male officemate to level the count.
- The husband got promoted in his job and started gaining new friends, buying expensive things and spends more time working instead of spending quality time at home. The wife, feeling insecure and irritated, also strives to get promoted at work and buy expensive things to keep up with his husband’s ego.
- Girlfriend gives his boyfriend gifts every month to celebrate their relationship. The boyfriend was able to do the same for the first few months, but eventually forgot about it in the succeeding months. While the girlfriend continues to remember, she feels irritated that the boyfriend always forgets. Now, each month on the same date, they always end up arguing.
How keeping scores can destroy a relationship
Not everyone is wired to keep count of everything that is happening in their lives. In a relationship, one may be keen to details while the other one isn’t. People have different personalities and that is why positive scores should never be a measure of how successful a relationship is. It is very stressful to base relationships on quantity instead of quality.
Keeping scores can destroy relationships because it gives a person no room for mistakes. When you divide chores between each other, it becomes a job by a single person, not a job that is shared by a united couple. When the person does not meet the assigned job, it becomes a source of argument. These job designations form expectations from the person that should not be there in the first place. What truly makes a relationship effective is genuine give and take. There should be no keeping tabs of who does more in the house, who pays more for the bills, who gives more time to the kids, and other such things. There should be no counting of good and bad, and therefore no expectations. Being in a relationship should be 100 percent “give all” without expecting anything in return.
When you feel that you always need to be equal with your partner, then relationships becomes a game or a challenge. The other person becomes a source of stress, someone who needs to be beaten, not someone to relax with, play with and be at ease with.
How to stop keeping scores now to save your relationship
If you happen to be guilty of keeping scores, then it is time to realize your mistake and start doing something about it now. Here are a few tips on how to stop keeping tabs all the time, and finally set you free from this exhausting burden.
- Count only the positive and ditch the negative. When your partner makes a mistake that you both have already resolved, try your best to forgive and forget. Don’t keep the memory at the back of your head. Don’t tell yourself that the second time he does it again, it is going to be payback time. Stay focused on the fact that the problem has been resolved and that things will get better. Here’s another article on “how to turn negative vibes into positive” for more info on the subject.
- Stop making your partner promise to do something to pay for a mistake. For example, when you ask your partner to start giving you monthly gifts just because he forgot your anniversary, the celebration starts to become a burden. Paying for a mistake is a form of revenge to make the guilty person lose pride. The best resolution is to find a compromise and forgive the offending party.
- Admit to yourself that you’ve got the habit and have your partner stop you from keeping scores. It requires the support and understanding of a loving partner to help you get rid of this habit. Tell your partner to remind you during arguments once you start keeping tabs. When you have determined what points in your arguments you keep tabs on, it is easier to stop yourself from doing it.
- Realize that this habit has been formed since your childhood. Help your partner understand this fact so that during arguments, your partner won’t see you as someone unfair and irrational. Ask your partner to help you stir arguments towards compromise in order to make it easier for you to break the habit.
- Be aware that when you keep tabs, you might also be teaching the people around you to do the same. This is especially important if you have children. Teach your children early to give and love selflessly, without expecting anything in return.