When we’re agitated or generally stressed out, it’s all too easy to take our frustrations out on those closest to us. One prime example of this is; keeping score.
See if this doesn’t ring a bell… You’re having a bad day – your boss yelled at you for no reason, the dog ate your favorite slippers, you locked yourself out of your car, and the only thing in the refrigerator to make for dinner is a jar of pickles, a can of cheese whiz, and something brown that you’re sure was a completely different color a day or two ago. Oh, did I mention, you also forgot to grocery shop.
Now you’re walking around the house mumbling to yourself, ready to explode. You go to throw something away in the trash under the kitchen sink, but it bounces back out – the trash can is overflowing – tick, tick, tick, BOOM! The next thing you know, you’re standing in front of your spouse, listing all of the selfless acts you’ve performed in the recent past, “I mowed the lawn, fed the dog, drove the car-pool, picked up the dry cleaning, and am about to prepare a gourmet dinner using only pickles, cheese whiz and something brown, the LEAST you could do is empty the trash!”
The natural response from your spouse is to take out their scorecard and start listing everything they’ve done. The two of you volley your personal accomplishments furiously back and forth like some strange tennis match from the Twilight Zone. Soon you’re both angry, defensive and even more agitated than ever before.
This all could have been avoided by not overreacting in the first place. If the trash is full, take it out yourself, and so on. We all must remember that we each have our own scorecards – relationships are a partnership and we each contribute in our own way. Sure, occasionally one person does more than the other – so what. We tend to remember the times when it is us who is doing the majority of the work, but we quickly forget those times when we are the ones who aren’t pulling our weight.
Before you reach for your scorecard to compare stats, try and think of all those things that your partner does for you and your relationship. Just taking a moment to reflect upon all of the positive and helpful things your partner brings to the relationship, just might make the difference between an evening of hostility, and an evening of tenderness. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather turn to my partner for love and encouragement after a bad day, than turn against them.