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Avoid Making Lists and Keeping Score in Your Relationships

Household listThis week Phil had a medical procedure. He needed a Covid-19 test early in the week, so we had to quarantine. It was so hot that we took our walks very early in the morning when few people were on the street and before the sun was blasting. Apart from those walks, we were in the house full time with one another, even more than usual.

As we moved about the house this week, the food was cooked, the wash was done, the bills were paid, the plants were watered and tended to, the dishes were done, the flowers were arranged, the mail was answered, the floors were swept and cleaned, and we each moved forward on our separate and joint projects.

The ease during our lock-down reminded us that we don’t behave like many couples do: making lists and keeping score. We don’t have an internal accountant maintaining a balance sheet tracking what we have each done in order to maintain fairness. We just don’t do it at all; it doesn’t even come up. Let’s take a look at why, and how this can be avoided.

We are strongly aware that we are both on the same side and are assured that we are both acting for the good of our whole at all times. This comes from the deep matching of our most basic core values and the trust that this engenders.

We know in a deep way that each of us does our very best and gives our fullest toward our common good. We both make different contributions and have different skills, and this creates a rich, full balance of action. We relate as equals, lovers and friends always wanting the best for each other.

If there is ever a sense of dissonance, frustration or overload, then we communicate about it with each other. Grievances don’t accumulate because when differences come up between us, we talk about them, and this is easy precisely because we are on the same side. There isn’t a competition between us. We use our process to find a mutual solution. We do not hold onto things and let them build up! Therefore there is nothing on a list and nothing to score.

This approach changes the possibility for hurt and misunderstanding completely. If you want the feeling of safety and peace in your relationship, then verbalize these intentions to each other and communicate your feelings if you sense some problem within yourself.

The list for how not to make lists:

  • Speak aloud to each other often that you are on the same side
  • Respect the differences in how each of you work and participate
  • Do not measure and compare
  • Value your partner as different and equal
  • Do not hold onto things or keep them inside
  • Communicate without blame when you feel imbalance
  • Enjoy the peace and goodness that you have created

Photo Credit: Phil Mayes

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Successful Relationship Reading Corner


Books on shelfThis week, we said that you should avoid making lists and keeping score in your relationships. Here are a few guides on how to do that.

Keeping Score in Your Relationship Makes You Lose "With all of these things competing for your time and attention, people often end up looking to their partner to save the day, help out and “pull their weight.” You start watching everything they do and comparing it to what you do. In effect, you start keeping score in your relationship. This inevitably leads to feelings of resentment, anxiety, frustration and disappointment. Not the feelings you want if you’re looking for a connected, happy and satisfying relationship. Whether you’ve been together 10 months or 10 years, keeping score and competing often becomes an unwelcome component of many relationships. How do you stop it? Well, first you have to realize what you’re doing and why."

When Keeping Score Keeps Us Apart "All relationships require balance. When balance doesn’t exist, particularly in unhealthy relationships, one partner typically takes on more of the work in an effort to maintain the relationship. Usually, one or both partners are keeping score. Rather than maintaining a healthy relationship, they’re maintaining a list of both efforts made and wrongs done. It may provide a balance, but I don’t think it’s the sort of accounting that makes our relationships stronger."

8 ways to stop scorekeeping in your relationship "None of us want to admit to being a scorekeeper in our relationships. Behaving that way would mean that we are petty, small-minded, immature, or self-centered, not to mention grudging or stingy — all the attributes that grate on the very soul of our more evolved, generous, gracious, gratitude-trained true selves. Ouch. It’s not how we want to see ourselves, and it is certainly not how we want our children to see us. But score keep we do."

Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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