What is the Score in Your Relationship?

Keeping Score

Are you aware that in the back of your mind there is a scoreboard regarding your relationships?  It determines how we feel about someone on a daily basis, whether at work or at home.  The scoreboard affects our attitude and our willingness to help someone.  The score we keep on each other also affects our ability to receive love and appreciate the things other people do for us.  At work it affects our ability to delegate and our level of trust in each other.  We are taught to keep score as we grow up in a competitive environment, and most aspects of society advocate competition.  We also learn what behaviours will gain us the most points with other people, but this can be dangerous as we don’t allocate points the same way.

Dr John Gray in Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, refers to a point scoring system.  My intention in this article is to give you some insight into how Martians and Venusians allocate points completely differently and why!  Remember that not only are you keeping a scoreboard on everyone, everyone else is keeping score on you!

How We Award Points in a Relationship

Men and women give points differently.  Every act of love that a woman receives from a man, big or small, scores one point.  It doesn’t matter how big or small the gesture, it gets one point!  The trouble is men think they get more points for the big things they do, so they don’t bother so much with the small things.  Historically, men have been the breadwinners in most relationships.  To a Martian, his purpose in life is to provide for his family.  This is a big thing to him, so he assumes that by going to work every day and providing the necessities and even some luxuries, he should be scoring big points with his Venusian.  In the Martian head, the more he is able to provide, the less need there is for him to do anything else!  We Venusians on the other hand, only give one point for each act of love.  So going to work and coming home everyday gets one point.  The luxuries get one point, and so on.  By the end of the week, the Martian thinks he has about 50 points in credit when in fact he only has about 5!

In today’s society, the Venusian quite often contributes as a breadwinner, sometimes her income exceeds his, so sharing of household and family responsibilities is much more important to the Venusian.  If the Venusian does not feel that responsibilities are shared equally, then she will become resentful and no longer able to appreciate anything the Martian does.  This is what John Gray calls the Resentment Flu.  As with all colds, resentment flu is contagious!  It can take a while, but it will infect the relationship until both Martian and Venusian have nothing left to give.  It can be avoided if we take time to balance the score.

Balancing the Score

Never assume that you will get the same points for the same thing every time!  As we get used to certain behaviours we begin to take things for granted, so the value of the act can lessen.  Reconnect to the things you both value and do for each other regularly.  Say ‘thank you’ more often.

One of the biggest ways to score points with a Martian is to appreciate everything he does and tell him.  Adrian and I have shared out household responsibilities, so I do the cooking, (mainly for self preservation!), and he loads the dishwasher.  I always thank him for doing this and he thanks me for preparing dinner.  If I stop appreciating the things he does, he will stop doing them.  This is a Martian trait and part of their resentment flu.  Martians need to know they are loved and appreciated and that they make their Venusian happy.  He needs to be told this, he is not able to read your mind!  He also needs to be told how to make you happy.  Do not drop hints, he won’t get it!  As long as he knows what to do and when and feels appreciated, he will be quite happy to do more things you need.  Martians have no idea that anything is wrong unless they are told.  The trouble is, we don’t always tell them what we want or what they have done.

For Martians to score points with a Venusian requires more focus on the little things not just the big things.  Most Venuians want attention not things!  It is important to discuss what this means in your relationship.  Remember, a deposit to one person may be a withdrawl to someone else.  For some women, being bought flowers is a deposit and scores a point, for others it may cause suspicion or hay fever and therefore be a withdrawal, no points are scored.  In the Mars Venus Workshop’s, we talk about the various ways we use point scoring.  There are over 100 ways to score points with a Venusian, and about 26 ways to score points with Martians!  This is because Martians award more points based on the feeling of appreciation they get and the size of the gesture according to their frame of reference.  For example, not saying “I told you so” or making him feel stupid in public, scores at least 30 points!

I Don’t Keep Score!

If you feel you don’t keep score in your relationships, think again.  Have you ever felt resentful because you do too much?  Have you ever thought that it is not your “turn” to make the fist move or offer to do something?  Has anyone ever done something nice for you that you resisted because you didn’t want to ‘owe’ them anything?  We all keep score in different ways.  Whenever resentment creeps in, we are feeling an in-balance in the score.  Instead of allowing the resentment flu to take hold, find a way to balance the score even if it means starting from zero again.