When you’re the one keeping score in this game you’ll never win. 

I imagine I started competing at a pretty young age. I can remember fighting with my sister about who had more in their glass in the can of pop we were supposed to split and trying to see who could blow out the match after my dad lit his cigar. There was always some sort of contest and I always kept score.

In grade school at recess there were games where there were winners or losers. I tended to like baseball soccer because the lines were clearly drawn. Your team either won or lost, there were no degrees of losing like there were in say, hide and go seek. I mean, really, what’s the big deal if you were the third one found out of 7 that were hiding? You weren’t the worst hider and you weren’t the best and therefore the seeker in the next game. Really all it meant was that you got to swing while you waited for that game to end (there were only four swings).

During junior and senior high school the scorekeeping became more public and the pressure mounted. Everyone knew who made the team and could figure out who was on first, second or third string. Winning or losing wasn’t done on a country school playground in front of just eight kids, it happened in front of parents and fans and girls. This was important and I ramped up the things I kept track of to another level. But when the games stopped and athletics were over I didn’t stop keeping score.

Call it a byproduct of my Irish heritage but I never forgot a slight. I never forgot a rejection or snarky comment and I never forgot when I had been wronged (at least in my mind). No, those things went into some column on an internal score pad. This has not served me well in marriage.

I know for a fact that there’s something in Corinthians that gets recited in more weddings than not about love not keeping a record of past wrongs or something like that. And I can tell you that my internal scorekeeping has not been a good thing. See, the problem is that in a game there is a set time limit or number of innings, quarters or whatever in which the game is played. Once it’s done, it’s done. Marriage isn’t like that. It’s played to the death (literally) which I suppose makes it about as serious a game as you can imagine. Except it’s not a game. So keeping track of things and leaving them unaddressed or unresolved means eventually the bucket you’ve been dripping these offenses into becomes too full and tips over. Then there’s a deluge of things that have no relevance to the straw that broke the camel’s back. I realize I’m mixing the crap out of my metaphors here but I hope you get my point. It isn’t good for the other party that probably doesn’t realize score has been kept.

The other part that just isn’t good is the toll it takes on the scorekeeper. Carrying around that scorecard takes work. And every time that person, spouse or otherwise, inflicts an offense you have to note it. Then you have to determine if the tallies have amounted to enough to say something. Unfortunately keeping track of all that and keeping it bottled up takes a lot of effort. And sometimes you’re not up to the task of keeping that in, logic and reasoning is lost, and the dam breaks. But here’s the other thing. You’re competing in an unwinnable game because you never score. You don’t. You keep track of your opponent’s scoring but since this is a game of “who has the most offenses?” you never know when you have offended them. Furthermore your scoreboard isn’t the same as theirs and in the meantime you’ve suffered the pettiness of calculating. Frankly it’s just not worth it.

Nope, the juice is just not worth the squeeze folks so I’m giving it up once and for all. I’m hanging up my uni, leaving my cleats on the field and putting away the pencil and scorebook. If an offense (that’s “offense” with a long “o” not the opposite of defense) is big enough I’ll say something but if it’s not I’m going to consciously try and take a DB (defensive back) approach and forget it. The fact is it’s not worth it. It’s not worth it for me to carry around and it’s not worth it to, in some way, hold it against that other person.

This may make for a greater number of conflicts or uncomfortable conversations but I think at just past 50 I ought to be able to handle it.

So do you have a relationship that could benefit from throwing away the scorebook? If you do, you might try sharing this with that person and make a resolution to quit this process too. 

If you would like to subscribe to my blog, just click here. Subscribing is free and it just means you will get an email on Saturday with links to the week’s posts. I promise not to keep track if you read them all or not. 

If you want to read more posts now, be my guest. Click this and you’ll be sent back to the home page.