In order to avoid one of the most common relationship problems, it is important to keep one thing in mind: what you do for your partner must be done out of love, and not out of a sense of obligation. Unlike some people who believe that a relationship should be 50-50, to make a marriage work, Judaism counsels that each partner must willingly give to the other not 50 percent, but 100 percent. Keeping score has no place in a loving relationship, but it’s surprisingly one of the most common relationship problems that couples face.
Moshe and Naomi had gone to a couples therapist for some marriage counselling. Moshe felt that Naomi was not contributing as much as he was to their marriage. He had taken a whole day installing the new sound system throughout the house, had changed the oil in the car, and listed a range of other tasks he had done. Naomi had somewhat grudgingly thanked him for it, but Moshe did not feel that Naomi was doing her “fair share.”
Meanwhile, Naomi had spent a number of hours each week doing the grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, cleaning, and taking the children to and from school, in addition to her demanding job at an ad agency. As Moshe saw it, however, this was “her job.” Naomi felt that he did not appreciate the things she did to create a pleasant home for their family. After a while, she also was reluctant to thank Moshe for the things he did, as she felt each thing was just one more item he was adding to the list of what she owed him.
The therapist saw that their relationship problems boiled down to Moshe feeling that he was not getting the love he needed. Moshe’s parents had also been scorekeepers, with a typical phrase around the house being “it’s not fair.” Moshe had gotten it backwards, equating love with the number of things someone else does for you, not what you do for someone else. But if you are so busy keeping score of the things you do, you can easily be blinded to the many loving things your partner does for you every day.
The couples therapist counselled Moshe and Naomi that each of them should praise the other for one thing each day. This soon grew to two things, then three things, and after a few weeks the love and appreciation had returned to their marriage. Appreciation is the key to solving many common relationship problems, and in order to keep building love in your marriage, leave scorekeeping behind.