When you are married, it is easy to fall into the habit of keeping score. It starts when you notice that you seem to be the one doing the dishes more often, or that you are always the one to change the toilet paper roll. You start keeping track of who is doing what, and we rarely ever take an unbiased view. The more you keep score, the more you start resenting your partner. What starts out as a small annoyance can turn into the fuel for full-blown arguments.
What can help in these situations is a simple change of perspective. Instead of being in competition with our spouses, we need to remember that we are on the same team. The teams that are the most successful are the ones that can adapt to any situation. If one team member is worn out, another might pick up the slack for a while. The members of a team all have the same goal in mind, and they all have differing strengths and weakness that can be complemented or supplemented by the other members.
You and your partner will experience different levels of busyness at different points throughout your lives. In one season one person might be busier than the other. My husband is currently in the process of applying for medical school, and he recently had a week where he was studying for both a course exam and a practice exam for the MCAT, the qualifying exam for medical school.
Although I have plenty of my own stuff going on, I tried to recognize that my husband was much busier in this particular week than I was. Instead of being annoyed that he didn’t have the time to do the same chores that he normally does, I tried to think of doing those chores for him as a way of serving and supporting him.
Letting those chores go undone wouldn’t have benefited us, and expecting him to keep up with his normal amount of housework wasn’t fair to him. It benefited us as a unit that I did more chores that week. There are times when he has done that for me as well, picking up the slack on chores I didn’t have time for and making dinners even though that is something that I usually do.
Some of the best marriage advice I have received is to always do more than what we think of as 50% of the work. We are always going to be biased and think that we are doing more than the other person; we only have our own perspectives to go on. Instead of assuming that we are the one doing most of the work, we should assume that there is more we could be doing.
Instead of splitting up every chore 50/50, I also find it helps to find the tasks you prefer doing, and to mostly be the one to do that task (unless you are adapting to the busyness of you or your partner, of course). I am almost always the one who cooks dinner and washes laundry in our household. My husband is almost always the one who takes out the garbage and vacuums the apartment. Doing laundry feels like much less of a chore to me than vacuuming does, so this is a way of complementing each other’s likes and dislikes.
1 Peter 4:10 says,
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
When we stop seeing serving one another as a burden and instead as a way to emulate God’s love for us, we will start seeing a major difference in our attitudes and in our relationships. Being willing to serve someone else is not just a blessing to that person, but to ourselves. It gives us the opportunity to share God-like love with the people that are most important to us.
Instead of keeping score against our partners, let’s start considering every act of servitude as a score for the team.