EP 16: Keeping Score Ruins Relationships
Last night, Jake and I had a date night. My frustration had been bubbling for 2 days and I needed to talk to him about it. I’m caught a cold and baby is sick as well, yet I’m still getting up at night, feeding the baby, rocking the baby to sleep several times a night, while my husband is sound asleep. Every time the baby would cough or wake, I would wait for him to proactively get up and take care of her or me, but he would roll over and continue sleeping. If steam could come out of my ears, it would.
My ego wanted to yell at him, shake my finger, and shame him into how unhelpful he was being but I know that never goes well. We just end up playing a game of ego tug of war. Especially with a newborn baby, it’s important to not tally our duties and keep score. There’s never really equal duty anyway. I have the boobs! When I can step away from my sleepless fog of fury, I know that Jake is a really good dad and wonderful husband. In reality, we’re both exhausted and doing the best we can.
Keeping score breeds resentment. According to John Gottman, my guru of relationships, contempt is one of the 4 things that leads to divorce. The other 3 are: Criticism (check), Defensiveness (yep, I was feeling pretty defensive) and Stonewalling (I know that if Jake and I didn’t have the conversation soon, I would begin to tune him out.
This doesn’t just relate to romantic relationships. It is useful in all relationships.
I used to have so many expectations of people. Of course, you should have reasonable human expectations like being respected, not having harm caused to you and having healthy boundaries.
I’m talking about expecting others to behave how you want them to behave or have unspoken rules of how you think they should be. It’s totally unfair and unkind. For example, if I buy you dinner or a gift, I used to expect you to gush over it and say thank you several times and then reciprocate. If you didn’t, I would be so pissed. I would ruminate of how ungrateful you were. If I texted you and you didn’t text back I would be upset, or even worse, think you don’t want to be my friend. F-ed up, isn’t it? Our ego is crazy and can take us down ghost stories that don’t serve us, waste our time and are not true.
Now, I just give to give for the sake of giving, without expectations or rules, because it makes me feel good to give you a gift that you wanted – to see you smile and to bring joy to you – without any return or expectations. If after a while, the person is a taker, well, then we have another problem, and probably we’re just not in alignment as friends. If I text you and you don’t text back, I shrug it off and think you must be busy and you’ll call me when you can. It keeps life so simple when you don’t have unfair and unspoken rules on others.
It makes giving, love, friendship way fuller.
So, today’s mantra is to Give without expectations – detach from how you expect the other person to be.
Having expectations of people is not genuine. When you can release those rules of how others should be and let people be who they are, this is actually love. Without conditions. Without rules. It’s hard to do.
At the end of the day, isn’t this really what we want? To be loved unconditionally. To be heard and seen, in our totality, without judgment and expectations. To be understood. This is true love.
EP 16: Keeping Score Ruins Relationships Last night, Jake and I had a date night. My frustration had been bubbling for 2 days and I needed to talk to him about it. I’m caught a cold and baby is sick as well, yet I’m still getting up at night, feeding the baby, rocking the baby to sleep several times a night, while my husband is sound asleep.