- Isabelle Morley, PsyD
3 Ways to Stop Scorekeeping
Keeping a tally of what each of you do in your relationship and trying to "win" will only lead to frustration and resentment. Try these three things instead.
Despite what you may think, you don't actually need the division of labor in your relationship to be exactly 50/50. And that's because it's nearly impossible to have a perfect split of what each partner contributes. There will be times when you do more, and times when your partner does more.
Most people, at one time or another, find themselves scorekeeping. "I washed and folded the laundry, and emptied the dishwasher, and what did they do?!" We keep a mental tally of our contributions and we tend to overlook what our partner has done. This can very quickly lead to resentment and frustration.
Unless you really are doing the lion's share and a big change is needed, giving up scorekeeping is in your best interest.
1. Notice What Your Partner Does
Instead of diligently tallying your contributions, try keeping track of all the things your partner does around the house. Don't overlook the small things, like wiping down counters, putting shoes away, or turning off all the lights before bed. Notice all the ways in which they keep your shared life running smoothly and take tasks off your plate. You may be surprised to find that they're doing a lot more than you realized.
For extra points, when you catch them doing some helpful, thank them! Everyone loves to be seen and appreciated. Plus, reinforcing behavior through gratitude and affection makes it more likely to happen again, so if you want your partner to keep cleaning the stove top, make sure you thank them.
2. Stop Overachieving
The partners who tend to engage in scorekeeping are often those who do more than they should. They overextend themselves, taking on more tasks than they need to in order to be a "good" partner. Sometimes it's because they're people pleasers, sometimes it's because they're looking for appreciation, and sometimes it's just their nature.
No matter the reason, if you're feeling resentful that once again you vacuumed the living room, next time don't jump to completing the chore. Give your partner a chance to get to it, and if it's still undone, see if you can tolerate some dirt on the floor instead of fuming while you vacuum.
3. Just Ask Your Partner to Help
This is revolutionary, I know. But many people feel anxious or unsure about directly asking their partner to help out. I hear a lot of: "But they should just know what to do!" And I'm here to tell you- they don't just know what to do. They are not a mindreader. In fact, no one can read minds. The messy countertops might not bother them in the same way it bothers you, so just ask your partner to wipe 'em down and call it a day.
And yes, you may need to ask over and over. Some tasks don't fully sink in for people, and it's not a sign that they don't care (or any other unforgiving explanation- that they're selfish, that they're intentionally trying to get out of doing it by playing dumb, etc.). We're all human and humans aren't perfect so cut them some slack and keep on asking.
Try it Out
Scorekeeping leads to resentment and frustration. Try these 3 strategies for ending this habit and see if it helps!