Wife Credit

Wife Credit October 27, 2013

My husband and I enjoy watching reruns of the show King of Queens.  One old episode addressed the concept of wife credit.  We found this idea very funny, and have recently come to terms with the fact that wife credit is a part of our marriage.  Maybe you don’t call it by that name, but it’s probably part of your marriage too.

The idea behind wife credit is that a husband can go above and beyond his normal day to day duties and earn extra credit with his wife.  Wife credit can then be used in exchange for favors from his wife.   During the episode of King of Queens, we watched Doug (the main character in the show) try to earn enough wife credit for a trip to Vegas with his friends.  He even subjected himself to a long weekend at a spa (which he hated), in an attempt to earn enough credit to get his wife to say yes to Vegas.  In the end, his plan failed, his wife says no way to Vegas, but offers the usual wife credit reward — sex.  Doug’s painful spa trip didn’t pay off because he forgot a pretty basic wife credit rule — it can’t be used for big things.

And there is a reason wife credit can’t be used for big things.  It has a very short shelf life.  Wives tend to forget or give less value to kind gestures as time passes, and so the credit starts expiring almost immediately after it is earned.  Except for rare instances of extremely heroic acts, the credit lasts for no more than 24-48 hours.  Use it or lose it.  In the show, Doug has to be told this by his buddy Deacon.

Deacon — You can’t put wife credit in the bank.

Doug — Why not?

Deacon — It’s like a piece of fish.  As soon as you get it, it starts goin’ bad.

Accepting the reality of wife credit in our marriage has been beneficial.  I’ve thought a lot about the little extra things my husband does to earn his credits, and I’ve tried harder to extend my wife credit shelf life –2 hours was definitely unfair.  I know in the ideal relationship you would never keep score.  But most relationships are far from ideal, and so I’m doing my best to be a more generous scorekeeper.  “Kindness begets kindness evermore.” ~Sophocles

How about you?  Is wife credit a part of your marriage?  If not, let us know your secret to a selfless marriage dynamic!

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  • MaryAlice

    That is hilarious. I think that we work with the opposite — wife debt, perhaps you could call it. This accrues when I make the effort to show up to my husband’s social things, which are, shall we say, often not my favorite way to spend an evening. The debt was piling up, but we recently found a way to clear the tab. I picked a wonderful play that I really wanted to see, he picked a great, fun couple for us to go out with and set everything up, and we had an amazing evening out together.

    I think that you are right that “wife credit” probably expires too soon, and I am sure that I also hold on to my debts too much. As petty as it is, it does help me to think about quid pro quo. When my husband recently started planning a weekend trip, I remembered that I go on retreat every spring, so one weekend off per year seems fair for both of us. I have also thought a lot about skiing during the weekends of long golf outings.

    In the book “Admission,” one of the professor’s wives gets a pearl for every physics party she has to attend. Whatever gets you through it!

    I have a question — does wife credit work when you know that he is buttering you up on purpose?

  • wife debt, I love it. Thanks for being honest here, and I love your trip to the theatre, how fun!

  • Bethany

    Hilarious. Nothing like a good King of Queens life lesson. That show makes me lol every time I catch it (rare)–there are always hilarious pieces to which we relate! As for Wife Credit, I think I psychologically fall into Husband Credit, where I’m constantly trying to work to “earn” the good parts of my life–a long run, a trip to the gym, a night out with the girls, letting the laundry pile up in the hallway. I have to do other things so that I’m allowed credits (at least in my brain!) Does that make me more like Doug/the husband in this scenario? It would not surprise me. GG and I will often take opposite roles from those which are predicted. It is definitely guilt-driven in my case!

  • Ana

    On a side note the actor that plays the main character of King of Queens is a practicing Catholic. He regularly attends mass in Florida.

  • Juris Mater

    I definitely need to extend my expiration date on the wife credit too–and thinking about it in these hilarious and tangible terms will help me. Thanks Kellie!!

  • familysnodgrass

    My husband is WAY more selfless than I am, so he’s always trying to pay off what I guess he considers to be his wife debt. He gets up early with the children, so I can sleep 45 extra minutes; he does the breakfast dishes, so I don’t have to; he provides me with household help, so that I am not as exhausted by his absence during his 12 to 14 hour work days(!!!); he pitches in TONS on the weekends, because he’s been at work all week. See what I mean about selfless? He’s pretty awesome. I am trying to make a more conscious effort to repay some husband debt from time to time.