Destruction That’s Good for Marriage

Posted by: Shel 14 Comments

Destruction That's Good for Your Marriage

Competition between spouses can be fun, energizing and healthy for the marriage. Keeping score to determine who won at golf, racquetball, scrabble, or a favorite video game makes absolute sense. Keeping score in other areas of marriage does not.

But isn’t that just what we do?

  • I’ve taken out the trash the last three times!
  • He’s been late for dinner four times this month – all without an apology.
  • I’ve gotten up with the baby five times this week and she’s only gotten up twice.
  • I’ve had to skip my book club meeting two months in a row to accommodate social plans he made.
  • Our best friends have a date night weekly and we only go on a date once a month.

We know that any sentence that starts out with you patting your righteous self on the back while saying: “I’ve told my spouse a thousand time to/not to  [fill in blank with what they keep screwing up that you do so well] is designed to show the deficiency of your spouse. But it really shows a couple of things about you: (1) You’re a grudge-holding list-keeper (and possibly a nag) and (2) You either don’t know how to count or you are prone to wild exaggeration. A Thousand? Really??

Comparisons are helpful if you’re trying to decide what model washing machine to buy. But they rarely serve any productive purpose when comparing ourselves to our mate or other marriage relationships to our own – it’s just a way to create and nurture dissatisfaction. And it’s not like keeping score of such things leads to the determination of a winner. As a matter of fact, this type of score-keeping usually results in three losers: you, your spouse and your marriage.

“Destruction” is often thought of as a negative event. But destroying these mental lists we have made will result in a more “we” focused marriage. Here are some lists that you can put on your new Search and Destroy List:

  • What spouse did wrong
  • What I’ve done right
  • How many times I’ve done (whatever) versus how many times spouse has done it
  • How many sacrifices I have made versus how many spouse has made
  • What other couples do that we don’t do
  • What other couples have that we don’t have

Now that you’ve destroyed the old unproductive lists, there’s room for some rebuilding with new marriage-embracing lists. Such as:

  • What I appreciate about my spouse
  • What I am grateful for in my life
  • Ways I can be a better spouse
  • Obstacles we have overcome
  • People who love us and support us as a couple

Now there’s some scorekeeping that will result in three winners!


Related posts you may find of interest: Shrew-B-GoneExcuse Me While I InterruptIntroverted But Not Shy – Does Your Mate Need Space?

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  • I love lists. Thanks for the constructive one that replaces Search and Destroy.

    • Shel Harrington

      Glad you like lists, Kim, because I have a BIG one coming at you tomorrow!

  • “Good” destruction–of list-keeping, especially–made for a superb post, Shel. You have a way of making the points clear, real, and essential…and that’s not an easy combination.
    Well done!

    • Shel Harrington

      Thank you, Marylin! I hope you have a wonderful holiday!

  • Well, I’m a twit who tweets, so I’ll tweet it.

    • Shel Harrington

      Much appreciated, Luanne! I hope to join you in twitsville one day soon!

  • Great lists, Shel! Destructive habits have a way of snowballing…best to nip them in the bud, if not, they might be paying you a visit.

    • Shel, I sent you an email to your gmail address.

    • Shel Harrington

      They do seem to be contagious, don’t they? What are the odds of spouting off a list of what one’s mate hasn’t done/said/accomplished NOT triggering a responsive (and just as correct) list shot back?

  • Yup, this is spot-on. Guilty here of noting what the spouse leaves unfinished rather than noting what gets done. Thanks for the reminder. If i was a tweeter or twitter or whatever it is, I’d twit or tweet this!

    • Shel Harrington

      Hahaha – I don’t tweet, either, Lisa. I keep getting advised by more seasoned bloggers that I need to, but haven’t gotten there yet! Meanwhile, Facebook and Google+ sharing is helpful!

  • Valarie

    Right on, Shel. Sometimes we get into destructive habits without thinking and wonder why we’re so unhappy. Duh! Thanks for the reminder. : )

    • Shel Harrington

      It’s so easy to do, Valerie. And for me, I often find that the little things that I am tempted to gripe about (and I don’t always master that temptation!) take less time to do/fix than to than to complain about – and end with a better result!

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