Leaving Blame Behind

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Leaving Blame Behind

Nana nana boo boo. Stick your head in doo doo.

I’m rubber and you’re glue whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.

I know you are, but what am I.

Do any of the sayings above bring back memories? Childhood attempts at managing the complexities of relationships where we distracted people from our mistakes or shortcomings. Perhaps we think we have left the silly or simple for more sophisticated relationships strategies. But I believe there is another ineffective relational tool many need to leave behind. 

Blame.

Blame takes many forms … accusations, intentional embarrassment or constant criticism. Many use it to try to communicate emotion, but without having to be vulnerable with their spouse. They believe blaming will create change in their spouse and ultimately their marriage. This is not true.

Dr. Steven Stotsney, PhD. says, “the path to marital ruin begins with blame.”  

Why? Because…

Blame Blinds Us. It assigns responsibility, rather than focus on the issue. It assumes one person is solely responsible for the struggle faced. Blame keep us from seeing the good in our spouse and accepting our own responsibility in the matter. When we are focused on “Who did it” we can’t see “What can be done about it”.  So, we can’t find a solution to get us to a better place in our marriage.  Blame ultimately keeps us from seeing that our life is much better because our spouse is in our lives. 

Blame Crushes Confidence. Blame can communicate, “If you would only ___, then I would be much happier.” Early in my marriage I learned this lesson the hard way. I had this mentality there was only one way to do things … the right way. I had strong beliefs on just about everything – how we should shop for groceries, the way towels and toilet paper should hang. Important stuff … right? I had an opinion and I communicated these to Kristen as if they were absolute truth. Truth that I lived by and the way she needed to, as well. I realized there was an issue when she told me she was apprehensive to grocery shop with me. Her confidence was crushed so much, she was afraid I'd find issue with something in her shopping - the amount she spent, what she bought or did not buy. I had crushed my wife’s confidence in making simple daily decisions through blaming her for the way she shopped. Which, in turn, crushed me.

Here are a few crushing effects of blame:  

  • The fear of making a decision or offering a different opinion.
  • A building resentment toward your spouse.  
  • Decreasing loyalty and a desire to communicate about anything meaningful.
  • An increasing sense powerlessness and discouragement.

What can we do to reduce blame in our marriage?

  1. Take time to identify feelings. Many times, we show emotions rather than share feelings. Our emotions effect how we see the situations we face in our marriage and life. Our emotions can also confuse us as we try to find a solution or seek understanding. 
  2. Identify assumptions. Blame is usually a result of unmet expectations. If you are anything like me, then you may fail to communicate your hopes, thoughts and desires to your spouse. Uncommunicated expectations are nothing more than assumptions. We should not assume that our spouse can read our minds. So before we blame, we must ask, “Did my spouse know what I was hoping for? Did I effectively communicate my goals?” If there is a misunderstanding then the chances are, we didn’t.
  3. Admiration. We know our spouses are not perfect. I am sure most of us hope that our spouses would relate with us keeping this truth in mind. However, blame focuses our attention to imperfections and blinds our ability to see the other person's good. The only way we can relate well, is if we intentionally think the best of them. When you find yourself caught in the blame trap, take a few minutes to remind yourself of 5 positive character qualities your spouse has that fills you with joy. When we think the best of our spouse and want what is best for our marriage, we can move away from blame and toward resolution. 

So are you ready to leave blame behind for good?

Posted by Freddie Albaugh at 6:00 AM
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