Thursday, March 28, 2013

Keeping Score

Easter is approaching. And with my husband, that means hectic days and late nights working. Our church puts on an Easter production every year, and my husband is one of the core people who make that happen (being a sound engineer and all). He is great at what he does, and I really do appreciate that he is such a hard worker. He does not complain about the long hours or the lack of sleep, and still tries to bless me in whatever way he can. He does sometimes get a bit irritable, with the lack of sleep and such, but even so, he amazes me with how much he can handle without totally breaking down.

As a result of my husband working so much, this time of year can be difficult for me. One reason is that, because he generally works 8:30am-10:30pm, I do not get to see him or hang out with him much. Another reason would be the lack of sleep that comes with a long work day. And finally, I have a really difficult time working such long hours for any extended period of time. Then the question comes, “I thought you said that he was working long hours, not you.” It is true, and the fact that I feel a need to be working at least as long as he is reveals my problem: I have a tendency to keep score of how much we each do, and I am determined to be ahead.

I keep track of our respective amounts of awesomeness, and therefore constantly feel the need to be doing more. I need to work more, be more godly, and get less sleep than he does, not because I am pursuing productivity or godliness in themselves, but because I want to be more productive and more godly than he is, saving up “points” so that I am perfectly justified in taking a break or even having a crappy attitude once in a while.

The other day, my husband woke up feeling sick. As a result, he decided that instead of doing some extra contracting work that he had been planning to do, he would sleep in and rest so that he would {hopefully} be less-sick during the Easter production. I, on the other hand, got up early so that I could lead worship at our church’s Jr. High/High School. It did not bother me that my husband decided to sleep in or that I was up early. I actually encouraged him to get some rest. I did, however, unconsciously make a mental note of the fact that he got more sleep than me. So, later in the day when I was in a bad mood, I felt as if I had “earned” the right to be in a bad mood because he had gotten more sleep than I had. But that is a warped view that is of life in Christ, and of marriage specifically.

Keeping score may work fine for tennis and soccer and basketball, but not marriage. Keeping score implies an “us and them” mentality. When playing soccer, score is not kept between players on the same team, but between the opposing teams. Did you catch that (did I catch it?) —opposing teams. Marriage is a team “sport,” but it is not wife against husband. It is not me against him. It is not seeing how much better than him I can be, how far ahead I can get so that I can take it easy for a while. It is US (God, my husband, and me), against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Instead of trying to score lots of points for myself, I need to focus on the team—building up my husband and relying on God’s strength.

No matter how hard I try, I can earn “enough” points. There will always be days where my husband works longer hours, where he is sweet and I am being a brat, where he is laying down his life and I am struggling to take care of myself. And on the flip side, there will be days where I work all day and he stays home, where I am being extra kind and he is being a jerk, where I am laying down my life and he does not seem to care about me at all. But that is why marriage is a promise, and that is why God gives us grace.

If we did not have bad days, if there was never a time when one of us was being rude, if marriage did not require love and sacrifice, we would not as desperately feel our need for God. But when my husband is having a bad day and I want so badly to be angry at him, I need God’s grace to be kind. When I work all day and upon arriving at home, the house is still messy and my husband seems to have done nothing productive all day, I need God’s grace to not give him the cold shoulder. When I waste a lot of time on Facebook or Pinterest while my husband is working and I feel like such a failure at time management and being a good wife, I need God’s grace. When I am angry with my husband when he has not done anything wrong, but simply because I have not been taking captive my fearful thoughts, I need God’s grace.

Marriage is not about getting ahead. It is not about being better than my spouse. It is not about keeping score. Marriage is about loving unconditionally and being transformed—by God—into the person He has created me to be. When I keep score in my marriage, I overlook God’s grace. Instead of relying on Him for strength, I look to myself to be strong enough. Although I would like to believe that I am strong enough to make life work on my own, I know by now that it is futile trying to do it on my own. My good days can never stack up to my failures, and I am constantly left feeling defeated by my own shortcomings.

Lord, keep my eyes on You, rather than on the score. Remind me of your grace when I am tempted to stack my good deeds against my husband’s bad, or vice versa. Help me to live constantly with the goal of knowing you more and honoring you through loving my husband as You have loved me. Thank you for Your grace that covers me.


  1. that's awesome Mauri :) love your thoughts :) see you soon

    (from chick clique) ;)

  2. Grace is such a beautiful gift from God and yet so hard for this frail, sinful woman to grasp sometimes, Maurie. I'm like you and push myself too hard--not so much out of competition with my spouse, but out of guilt. My mother used guilt a lot on me when I was a child and now I feel guilty when I rest or do non-productive things. But with God there is grace ... yes, that's a much-needed reminder that I'm tucking away today. Thanks for linking up with Wedded Wed. Sorry it took so long for me to swing by. I've been out of town but enjoyed your wise words today. Happy Easter, my friend!

  3. Well said, Maurie. Thank you for your openness and willingness to share!

  4. Thank you for that reminder.
    Tanya F.