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Keeping The Score

Madissyn Fredericks, Licensed Professional Counselor, Symmetry Counseling 

Whether we do it consciously or subconsciously, we all keep score in our relationships to some degree. When we start keeping score in intimate relationships, we may tend to notice when we clean the house more, make more money, or take care of the kids more than our significant other. A study completed by Michael Ross and Fiore Sicoly in 1979 found nearly 75% of married couples overemphasized their contribution to the relationship when it came to things such as decision-making, cooking, initiating arguments, etc. While it is natural to be biased toward taking credit for achievements and blaming others for the negative, doing so can leave us with feelings of disappointment, insecurity, resentment, and even anger. It is normal to feel bad when you feel you are doing more in a relationship; however, it is important to not let this problem worsen while you feel unappreciated and resentful. Below are a few ways to tame your inner scorecard and begin feeling better in your relationships.

Focus On Team Effort

Get rid of the “me versus you” talk. Healthy relationships are a team effort in which everyone wins or loses together. Emphasis should be placed on attaining your mutual goals rather than scoring who is doing more or less. Challenge yourself to do less blaming, criticism, and putting each other down. Try listening more to each other and using more “we” talk and less “me” talk.

Focus On Giving Rather Than Receiving

In any healthy relationship, each person gives willingly of themselves without an expectation of getting something in return. The reward is not a personal gain, but rather, making the other person happy. When you start to keep score, you are focusing on what you aren’t getting from the relationship rather than what you are. By focusing on what you are giving to the relationship, you are putting the relationship and your partner first rather than yourself.

Appreciate What You Do Receive

Heighten your awareness of the positive things your partner brings to the table and challenge yourself to be more active about showing appreciation for those things. People want and need to feel appreciated, therefore, they will respond and perform better when they are genuinely valued. For example, if your partner sees your busy and takes the dog out when it is normally “your chore”, make sure you verbally say thank you.  Don’t let the small things go unnoticed.

Trust In Your Partner

Trust is defined as believing in the reliability, truth, or strength of another. Keeping the score brings mistrust and unnecessary anxiety. Establishing reasonable expectations for your relationship and giving your partner the opportunity to follow through on them helps promote trust. Trust that over time the other person in the relationship cares just as much regardless of the inequality at times.

Communication Is Key

There are going to be times in every relationship where you feel you are putting in more effort and feel the other person isn’t living up to the standards of the relationship. If you feel this way, it is important to be straightforward with your partner, and if you feel your partner is doing less than you, say it.  Make sure you are creating a “safe space” for you and your partner to be comfortable sharing any disappointments or troubles in the relationship. Keep that line of communication open!

If you are currently keeping the score in your relationships and would like support, it may be useful to connect with a therapist. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists at one of our two Chicago locations.

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