It’s not a mystery of my competitiveness. It seems to come out in a lot of things. I can’t say that I’m a sore loser, but of course that’s coming from me. I play to have fun…aaaaand I think it’s fun to win. Now understand, I don’t even need competition to be competitive with. Golf for example, is a sport that I play and I’m a grouchy player.
Why am I so ornery on the course? I’m so bad at the game that I can’t compete with anyone so I’m competitive with myself. I’ve been known to throw clubs and leave them on the previous hole which is why our church golf league has the rule “No throwing clubs.” I know what you’re thinking: this guy needs some serious help. Honestly, your thinking is right.
A problem rises in our marriage when we develop the same competitive attitude with our marriage. We start “keeping score” with each other. What do I mean by “keeping score”? Let’s put it this way: instead of acting out of humility and servanthood, we track who does what so that we can compare and win. We’ve got too many couples that are bringing the selfish attitude that says, “I will keep track of the “score” so that I will come out looking like a winner.
TRUTH: Marriages that keep score lose…every time!
For a time, I was making marriage into a loser marriage because I was the chief scorekeeper. I finally understood it when Anne looked at me and said, “it’s probably all my fault again.” I had spent years making sure her mistakes were known so that I looked better in comparison. The reality: I wasn’t winning…our marriage was losing.
The essence of “keeping score” smacks against oneness in marriage. As I said last week in my blog “The Myth of Compatibility“, “The “I” and “her/him” mentality still sees the two of you as two individuals working together. When that mentality is fostered, it’s easy to spot compatibility problems because you’re still thinking like TWO. You need to be thinking like ONE.” The idea of “keeping score” ebbs away at the oneness and returns us to the selfish child-like thinking that doesn’t want to share because something is “mine”.
How do people keep score? I’ve thought of a few ways, and honestly, have done a few of these:
My wins vs. her wins – It’s the philosophy of the movie Mighty Ducks. “It’s not worth winning if you can’t win big!” I keep a mental track of my wins so that in ANY situation, I can point them out and show her that I am far superior. If we’re at an impasse, I get to point out how many “wins” I have which proves that I apparently have more wisdom, strength, intellect, and perseverance. In other words, we’ll do what I think we should do because I am far more capable of making the decision. The reality: We dominate our spouse and by trying to flaunt some type of facade. But the facade only accentuates your pride. There’s no servanthood here. You only serve yourself. Proverbs 16:18 says “First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.” The more you act this way, the bigger the crash you’ll hear when the marriage falls. Learn how to serve your spouse and pour into their lives with no strings attached. Serve so your spouse wins. By doing that, your marriage wins.
My faults vs. her faults – I begin to keep a mental record of everything she’s done wrong so that ANYTHING I’ve done won’t hold a candle to the pile of her past. All I have to do is flaunt her issues so that mine don’t look so bad. I use this method to “guilt” her into things. It’s nothing but manipulation to make me feel better about me. The reality: We demean our spouse and have crushed their spirit into the ground. Instead of giving our lives as Christ gave himself completely for us, we utilize the breaking down of our mate to feed our insecurity. Think of Psalm 130:3, “LORD, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive?” You need to view your spouse’s faults through the eyes of forgiveness that the Lord has given you. If Jesus isn’t keeping a record, should you? For some of you, you need to view yours faults through the forgiveness of the cross of Christ. Stop punishing yourself and your spouse so that your past looks better. Accept his forgiveness and offer the same to your mate.
Lastly, Who does more?: Me or her – Here’s a classic score keeping marriage. I will list out everything I do to shame the other spouse. OR I will talk about my day in such detail that my spouse will feel embarrassed that she even asked me to do something. Who took care of the kids the most? Who did more chores? Who “worked” all day? Who’s chores held more “weight”? It’s almost a mix of our first two scenarios. There’s level of pride and guilt. The reality: It speaks of control. I can control what I do by keeping score of how much I do so that I can control the scene. In marriage counseling, I’ve had couples list things out for the purpose of bringing balance. But couples who live this way day in and day out are not in it to get a win for their marriage. They’re in it for the win for themselves. In John 13, Jesus gets up from the table and begins to wash his friend’s feet. What Jesus has demonstrated here is absolute humility and service. When he did that, he set the pace for us as men on how we are to love and out-serve our spouses. At the end of the passage, verse 17 is what rocked my world. Jesus says, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” Now that you know you are to serve, you will be blessed to do that to your mate.
I’ll reminder you of the TRUTH I shared earlier: Marriages that keep score lose…every time!
Instead of thinking how you are winning or how you can be victorious over your spouse, think, “how can my marriage win” or “how can we win”?
The only way to keep from a “loser marriage” is to stop keeping score.
Thanks for letting me ramble…