Who’s been waiting for this one? Raises hand. I’m so excited to finally delve into this topic of scorekeeping in marriage.
Did anyone keep boyfriend or girlfriend points when they were dating? This habit is behavior modification for your significant other. If your girlfriend does something good, you give her some girlfriend points. If your girlfriend does something bad, she’s able to use the points that she earned from doing something good so that you can’t get mad at her. Same is true for boyfriends.
Not surprisingly, this concept of keeping score in marriage is not biblical. Love does not keep score. Love does not keep a record of wrongs. Love does not seek to be right, to get even, or to insist on its own way.
My husband and I are both very competitive. Our families love to play games, and for some reason, they think it’s funny to pitch us against each other. People think I’m joking when I say that we will tear each other apart, but I’m pretty serious. In competitions, there is no love. There’s only rising to the top, beating down anyone who tries to get in our way.
For our marriage’s sake, we typically play group games where my husband and I are on a team together. Otherwise, my husband gets his feelings hurt when he loses to me (haha)! But seriously, we dominate when we are put on a team together. With my husband’s ability to think outside the box and quick reflexes, and my book knowledge and uncanny ability to guess when I don’t know the answer, we work so well together as a team. We are both independent and able to plan our own strategies, but we know that we can do better when we work together.
Because of the competitiveness of our world, it’s easy to keep score, to save a spouse’s mistake in your back pocket for when he’s mad at you, to prove that you’re right. However, that is not how God intended for us to live. He created us for community, so that we can work together and get even more accomplished. Scorekeeping divides, but love unites.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:12-14, NIV).
In this passage, Paul uses the imagery of clothing. In the previous part of the chapter, we are told to put off our old ways and to put on these new attributes described above. My previous co-worker and I would make a practice out of pretending to put on new clothes as we listed each one: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, love. Love binds all these attributes together. Scorekeeping divides, but love unites.
So, when I am dealing with my spouse, whom I am called to love, I must actively pursue the attributes listed in this verse. It is like getting dressed in the morning, an act that involves taking off my pajamas and putting on my #ootd. When I was in sin, those old habits (anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language) served to keep me in my sinful ways, but now that Christ’s death and resurrection has made me a new creation, it’s time to wake up. I must change out of my lazy pajamas and put on the clothes that show I’m ready to seize the day, confidently walking in the light of the Lord.
We are called by God to deal with others as God has dealt with us. “Forgive as God has forgiven you.” It’s hard to read verses that quote Jesus saying that God will not forgive us if we do not forgive others. He alludes to this idea several times in Scripture. If God has forgiven me from all my sin, why should I not forgive my husband for unintentionally hurting me one time? And if I don’t forgive my husband for ruffling my feathers a little bit, what does that say about my attitude toward God forgiving me for turning my back on Him and messing up so many times? Scorekeeping divides, but love unites.
Do not let bitterness keep you from loving your spouse the way that God calls you to love him/her. Be quick to forgive, talking to each other when necessary. You’ll know when it’s necessary, because you won’t be able to sleep at night. Instead of competing with one another, work together. Trust me when I say that you can accomplish much more together than separately.