Dave and Sue are fighting more frequently. Dave blames Sue for being too demanding, and they have stopped having intimate moments. Sue blames Dave for not helping out enough with the house and the children, and Dave is angry all the time. The arguing starts to escalate in just a matter of minutes.
Like Dave and Sue, many couples start to point fingers at their partner out of daily frustration and years of unresolved baggage between them. In an effort to understand what’s happening we often look outside ourselves rather than within.
When it comes to detrimental things that you can do to screw up your relationships, blaming the other person for something – justified (in your mind) or not, is at or near the top of the list. In this black-and-white approach to relationships, if you can allow yourself to think that a problem was caused entirely by the other person, you can continue living in the illusion of your own goodness and righteousness.
However, there’s one thing you’re forgetting: the only spouse you can change, is yourself. By stepping back from the confrontations, you can ask yourself, “How am I contributing to this problem? Where am I going wrong here?”
Here’s some “truth with a capital T”
Thoughts spark emotion-driven action. In other words, if you do not have the marriage that you want, you likely do not have the thinking patterns you need to create it. How you think, how often you think, what you think, what you think of what you think ~ all these factors empower or disempower you and your marriage.
Whenever your marriage catches your attention, for instance when things are not going right, notice what your thoughts are focused on. Then ask, “Does this feed me and the marriage – give me expansive hope? Or does it make me cranky, depressed or afraid?” See, its real easy to point the finger, isn’t it? But when you look into your own issues, it gets a little more complicated.
So how do we fix it?
Well, first we start with HUMILITY. Get over yourself (and this is meant in a sweetest and as lovingly way as possible). You’re not perfect, and neither is your spouse. You can’t change a person by tearing him or her down. There’s only one response for that kind of approach: negative. Think about it. How do you feel when others treat you disrespectfully? Does it make you want to do something for them?
Next, TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for your actions and reactions; for your thoughts, feelings, and words. Once we start to see our partner a certain way, we often start perceiving (or misperceiving) their actions through a negative filter. We may start interpreting innocent comments as critical or casual behaviors as rejecting. In these cases, we can either feed our negative thinking of blame or try to keep a more balanced perspective about what’s going on.
And third, TAKE OWNERSHIP of your thinking. If you choose to stay in the relationship it is your responsibility to co-create a healthy environment. The truth is, there is never a winner in arguments. It’s a matter of dropping your own reactive defenses and stopping the blame game. Ultimately, you will be able to have an honest, adult discussion, where you are open to giving and receiving feedback from a compassionate and calm place.
Blaming is never associated with making improvements in a relationship. In improving any relationship, the focus should always be on empowering yourself. You can only change your part in the equation, and that gives you a lot of power to make your marriage better.