Bean Counting (Giving and Receiving in Marriage)

73/366 - Bean counting

We have an expression in our house…"bean counting."  It basically means you count what you have done and compare it to the other.  For example, I have done the dishes, 3 loads of laundry, changed 4 dirty diapers, grocery shopped and prepared dinner.  My husband has made us breakfast, worked 8 hours, taken out the trash, wrestled with the kids and worked out.

In my mind, I catch myself weighing the differences between each of these items; how much time each task took, how much I didn’t want to do it, how appreciated I felt for this task and even what else I could have been doing with my time.  Most of the time, I win, when I calculate in this fashion.  And if you are like me, a "bean counter" you know that’s the very nature of the game.  You’re only counting because you already know you have won!  But why I do I care so much about winning?  

When I married my husband, 5 years ago, I made vows to lay down my life.  Vows to combine my life with his, for the betterment of each of us, our families, our communities and the Kingdom at large.  In all honesty, I can look at my “bean counting” and say, "This is not in accordance with my vows."  Granted, it is not a direct violation of my wedding vows, thankfully those are still fully in tact, but it is still an offense in my marriage.  This is slowly breaking down the goodness that is our union and causing unnecessary competition and rivalry.  Why compete when we are on the same team, striving to reach the same goals?

I am afraid this offensive behavior trait comes out of my desire to be seen.  My desire to be appreciated in the gifts I give and the time I sacrifice.  I don’t think I am alone in that, however, I do think there is a better way to go about it than my "bean counting."

Speaking honestly and openly to my husband when I feel unseen, unappreciated, will surley fair far better than the way I am going about it now.  Right now, in my "bean counting" ways my husband says he feels under appreciated, like I don’t see his daily sacrifices.  Probably because I am too busy telling him they don’t matter in comparison to mine.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  They do matter!  Both of our scarifies and gifts matter, equally!

I am learning that equality may have more to do with giving freely and receiving graciously rather than balancing out the scale at the end of the day.  Looking back at the past five, blissful years of marriage I have experienced, I am deeply ashamed of the competitive balance I have been fighting for.   The next 5, 10, 20, 30, 50 years will be different.  No more counting!  No more balancing!  No more trying to "win" his love!  I already have it… I just need to receive it graciously and give it back more freely!

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