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The Scorecard

Relationships are to women what football is to men. Women like to read about relationships, talk about relationships, dissect relationships, even root for and against them. They argue over trick plays and strategies, and on occasion, offer their insights to close friends once they have proven successful. And just as in football, women also wear protective padding when necessary.

Men, however, treat relationships in a far more simple and straightforward manner. We give up. We surrender. We acknowledge freely that we know nothing of the pink and paisley world of romance. Instead, we adhere to only one basic rule.

Make her happy.

Did you get that? Here, I’ll repeat it: Make her happy.

Bring her happiness–pure and simple–your life is transformed. Your career moves swimmingly as promotion after promotion rolls your way. Your abdominal muscles will ripple to the surface like anatomical speed bumps, with little, if any, effort on your part. Even better, you will cultivate a mane of wild blond hair that will dance playfully over your well muscled, tattooed shoulders. And you’ll get cable television without paying, too.

Yes, make her happy, and she will always find you sexually irresistible, even when you’ve all but neglected the basic tenets of personal hygiene. To use a baseball metaphor you can easily grasp, life becomes a succulent parade of hanging curveballs, and you’re a Louisville Slugger.

With this simple rule in mind, an intelligent man realizes that in order to preserve his happiness, he must guarantee his mate’s as well. In the spirit of love, sex, peace, and under the threat of potential bank-draining alimony payments, he must make deals and trade-offs to keep himself forever in her good graces. It is this such strategy that will keep him forever out of the doghouse. Got that?


There are problems, however. We never know if we’re in the doghouse, and once we are in it, we can’t find the way out. In the process of becoming civilized, we have become confused. It is as though we are playing a board game and our opponent is a maniacal Parker Brother.

What we need is a simple method to help us understand how women think about men. We need a decoder of sorts, to let us know when she is happy with us, and when she’s upset enough to banish us to the fold-out for the night. Even more, what we really need are objective measurements to help us translate our partner’s emotional reactions into something we can understand. Numbers, man. We need numbers.


Like everything in life (or everything that costs $9.95 and promises eternal happiness and sex at regular intervals), The Scorecard comes with a set of rules and regulations. We know these rules can be unfair. But hey, it’s not like we invented them…

1. You get absolutely no points by simply meeting her expectations.

There are some things that are expected of you. Examples of important but “pointless” duties include: reminding her that you love her, not sleeping with her sister, maintaining your original gender throughout the relationship, always buying her flowers on her birthday, paying for expensive dinners (even on your birthday), and not taking an airliner hostage (especially around the holidays). While we applaud you for meeting these requirements, don’t expect points for them. Do them and do not complain. No one is listening. Especially her.

2. Getting points has a larger purpose than you think.

Acquiring points not only keeps you out of trouble and elevates your position in the relationship, it also helps you plan ahead. Do good deeds and you rack up points–creating a handy reservoir to draw from when you need it most. Example: Enough points might allow you to see the Bulls with your pals, even when the last Lamaze class falls on the same night. Soon you can earn points for really big things in life, like purchasing an oversized camper, a big screen television, or a Flobee hair trimmer.

3. Good deeds, and the points earned, have a short shelf life.

Sincere acts of consideration will earn you points. But you need to realize they all have a shelf life. In order for these points to be traded for, say, free unsupervised time with your unstable single friends, you must do your good deed within a day (that’s twenty-four hours) of the anticipated reward. Example: You want to watch the Celtics on TV tonight? Clean the garage this morning. You want to see the game in person? Clean the garage and paint the exterior, that same day. If you don’t, she won’t make the connection, and all that effort is wasted. It would be no different than working hard, making a ton of money, and investing it in solar power.

4. But a bad deed can last forever (or at least three weeks).

While good deeds have a short shelf life, bad deeds can linger on like a Fox sitcom for months–even years. Women have a way of remembering every bad thing you do, down to the most humiliating detail. Whether or not you recall that stolen moment in fall of 1993 at the No Finer Diner when you glanced down the tube top of the sixteen-year-old cashier is of no one’s concern. The fact that your mate remembers it–down to the shade of lip gloss this lass had smeared across her face–is all that matters now. And the longer your mate holds a bad deed over your head, the more she can extract from you. You’re like a stock portfolio of reliable services. As long as you’re in the doghouse, you pay dividends. This is why you should avoid committing any major blunders–i.e., acts of marital infidelity, developing a coke habit, burning down the house, or accidentally shooting the cat with a speargun.

5. Saturday and Sunday are gold mines.

Weekends provide the best opportunity to gain the most points. By undertaking a massive home-improvement project (painting the house, carpeting the basement, moving Gramps into or out of the attic), you’ll be paid with a lump sum of points, to be used for such endeavors as a camping trip with your pals, a poker night in the den, one free pass to escape the in-laws. Embrace these big projects, for they will become your ticket to temporary freedom. And they also give you the excuse to drink beer before noon.

6. Your mate is not stupid.

Don’t expect to negotiate over unreasonable requests. No matter how many times you take her shopping for expensive beveled wind chimes, you will never get the green light to play naked Twister with your fetching new secretary. The transaction must be reasonable, which essentially means you should be happy with whatever you get.


Before you read any further, grab a pencil. You’ll need it to tally up your score. Of course, that score will mean nothing without some expert interpretation. Below is a handy chart that helps you figure out where you stand once you’ve calculated all your plusses and minuses.

First, however, we must take into account The Lie Factor. We realize that as you work your way through The Scorecard and start keeping score of your own actions, you will be faced with an uncontrollable urge to fudge. But the sad truth is, cheating only makes matters worse. By not scoring honestly, you’ll never know where you stand, for real, in your relationship with her. In the end it will come back and sting you with serious doghouse time. One day you will come home from work expecting a nice hot meal, a cool drink and a quick roll in the hay. Instead you will find her standing in the driveway with a sawed-off shotgun, arm in arm with her new boyfriend–a bloated, disoriented Mickey Rourke.

So use The Scorecard honestly. And you may not end up living alone in a trailer park wearing sweaters made of old newspapers. Unless, of course, that has always been your dream. Then we’re behind you 100 percent.


+1000 points. You have mastered the game. You are not only miles beyond ever setting foot in the doghouse, she is actually in your doghouse! Of course, you’re about as likely to reach that milestone as you are to break Cal Ripken’s consecutive-game streak.

+500 points. Good work. Keep this bank account up, and you’ll have more freedoms than mortal men like us even dream of. For example, you can barbecue at will. Think about that when you’re changing the lightbulbs of her vanity mirror.

+250 points. You should be proud. She’s happy. You’re happy. And you haven’t broken anything expensive in the process. Now have a beer already. And get back to the vanity mirror.

+100 points. Not bad. Your head is above water, you’re dog paddling to safety. But remember, one big and bad false move could put you back in the doghouse without supper.

0 points. You’re flat-lining. Sounds bad, but frankly that’s where most of us are. All that really means is that your status fluctuates daily, depending on the little things you do. Our advice: start cleaning more, drinking less.

-100 points. You’re in a bad spot, but not a hopeless one. Think about throwing the long ball. Ever consider buying her a mink? (And we mean a coat.)

-250 points. Dire straits, buddy, and we aren’t talking music. Time to make some major long-term changes. Do you still have buddies living in Thailand?

-500 points. You are in deep, deep trouble, friend. To get out of the doghouse, you’re going to have to hand her your cojones on a pastel-colored plate. Or at least buy her a minivan. A magenta minivan.

-1000 points. Congratulations. You have plummeted to the depths of the doghouse. Have you ever considered writing a book?


  • chronic unemployment -100
  • chronic weight gain -200
  • chronic belching, farting, nose-picking -250
  • sleeping with members of her immediate family -1500
  • suggested breast implants -500
  • armed robbery -750
  • taking up golf -760
  • agreeing with her mother when they’re arguing -2000


  • not missing a single Lamaze class +300
  • delivering the baby yourself +400
  • in an elevator +450
  • in a grain elevator +555
  • letting her name the baby after a dear relative from her side of the family +100
  • a relative that you cannot stand +200
  • named Eunice +200
  • making lots of money +2000
  • spending it all on her +3000
  • bankrolling her second career (the more useless this vocation is, the more points you earn)
  • portrait painting +1000
  • poetry-making +1200
  • law school +2000
  • bailing her brother out of jail +200
  • for the third time +400
  • taking her on a very expensive vacation +300
  • flying first class all the way even though you can’t afford to +400
  • staying at only five-star hotels even though you can’t afford to +400
  • taking her parents along +500
  • you even leave your golf clubs behind +600

Copyright ©1997 Greg Gutfeld

Reprinted from The Scorecard: The Official Point System for Keeping Score in the Relationship Game by Greg Gutfeld.

With tongue firmly in cheek, Greg Gutfeld comes to the rescue with the official rule book for the relationship game. From the kitchen to the bedroom, from proper party behavior to point-scoring Valentine’s Day gifts, The Scorecard is an uproarious take on the never-ending tug-of-war within couples of all ages.

Greg Gutfeld is a senior writer for Men’s Health magazine living in eastern Pennsylvania and is a widely acknowledged expert on life in the doghouse. He has also written The Scorecard at Work: The Official Point System for Keeping Score on the Job and The Scorecard: The Official Point System for Keeping Score in the Relationship System.