Stop the Blame Game in Marriage
The blame game in marriage is one of the biggest hurdles couples face when pursuing conflict resolution. It’s an unproductive pattern that every single couple faces and must and guard against.
The Bible even records the blame game in marriage all the way back in Genesis. We are all familiar with Adam, Eve and eating the forbidden fruit. At first glance we might miss the blame game happening. However, when confronted with eating the fruit, Adam blames God and Eve -… “that woman you put here with me.” In response, Eve blames the serpent (Genesis 3:11-13).
Why is it so hard to take responsibility?
I believe we have a tendency to self protect when we feel we are being blamed in marriage. In other words we feel defensive when our spouse calls us to account. As a result, our knee jerk reaction is to push the focus outward. We accomplish this by avoiding criticism.
Before I identify the problems with the blame game in marriage, I wanna highlight the phrase I used earlier… knee jerk reaction. Defensiveness is a coping skill that might have served us well at an earlier time in our life. This might be why we get defensive without thinking about it.
However, defensiveness that leads to the blame game in marriage will have a negative impact on your relationship.
Defensiveness that leads to the blame game in marriage will have a negative impact on your relationship.
3 Problems with the Blame Game in Marriage
1. Blaming shifts the focus outward.
The blame game in marriage shifts the focus outward rather than taking an inward look. While it’s no easy task to do some self reflection, it might be worth the pause. Don’t fall for the temptation to take your spouse’s inventory instead of your own.
It takes far more courage to take a moment and reflect on areas in need of refinement within ourselves.
Take heart, God purposes to use your spouse to refine you, making you more Christ like. Moreover, He is with you along the way, pouring out His love and grace for the journey. (Check out this article on self reflection questions for couples here.)
2. The blame game is circular.
Often, the blame game in marriage becomes circular. By this, I mean, once one spouse begins to shift blame, the other follows suit. Blame gets exchanged back-and-forth leading couples further away from resolution.
3. Couples end up on opposing sides.
A blame game in marriage puts couples on opposing teams. As a result, we experience increased division within our marriage. Furthermore, we fight for our own cause rather than being a united team.
The blame game in marriage is the enemy of conflict resolution. Repeated conflict without resolution in marriage is like a losing Tetris game. It keeps adding up and gets harder to resolve.
As a result, the marriage team gets divided and conquered a little bit more each time a spouse engages in the blame game.
An alternative to the blame game in marriage
When that moment comes up…your spouse is calling you to account (and it will happen!) try these steps. They will help you to resist the temptation to shift blame in all your relationships, especially your marriage.
1. Consider your spouse’s point.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” ~James 1:19
Is your spouse making a valid point? Before speaking, reflect on the concerns your spouse is raising. Resist the urge to get defensive.
2. Take some time to think about it.
When I don’t know what to say, I say this… “Let me think about that.” It’s so much more productive to take a few minutes to think things over rather than firing off the first thing that comes to mind.
3. Seek to understand.
Ask questions! I’m the worst at filling in the gaps of missing information with assumptions. When I ask questions rather than assuming, resolution comes so much faster. (More on wrong assumptions here.)
4. Do some self reflection.
“The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” ~Proverbs 12:15
We are called to speak the truth in love. If your spouse is bringing up a concern – resolution and consideration are in the best interests of the marriage. Take some time to look inward. Prayerfully seek God to show you areas in need of refinement. We are all a work in progress.
5. What if my spouse is the one blaming?
“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.” ~Proverbs 26:4
Whatever you do, don’t follow suit. Mirroring blame will not lead to resolution. Dishing our more blame causes you to go in circles…see 3 problems above.
6. Have a statement prepared.
If your spouse is engaged in blaming (remember, they may be feeling defensive) lovingly redirect back to the topic. A great redirect is, “I’d like to hear more about that, let’s finish this discussion first.” In this simple statement, you’re validating your spouse, considering their feelings and still circling back to the topic at hand.
Wrapping Up the Blame Game in Marriage
The blame game is such an easy pitfall in marriage. Emotions can run high in a relationship that means so much. We’ve all found ourselves on both sides of the blame game in marriage.
It’s never too late to turn course and do a new thing. Be courageous and consider your spouse’s points, looking inward and taking the time you need to reflect. Whatever you do, don’t mirror the pattern of blame. Instead, take the road less traveled. Finally, if you’re on the receiving end of the blame game, lovingly redirect the topic back on course.
What are some other ways you avoid the blame game in marriage? Leave a comment below.
I listen and give eye contact and not let my mind wonder and think about an answer to my defense. This helps to avoid shouting matches, and get to the real issue of what’s bothering my spouse.
Great tip Vanessa! Active listening is a great way to resolve conflict by getting to the heart of the issue.
Try to understand whether its logical blaming or emotional blaming, generally males will do logical blame and females do emotional blaming.
Handling these two are different, logical blamibg is easy to handle wirg reasoning, but handling emotional blamibg is difficult, unless you use ‘you are right’, ‘ I admit my mistake ‘, ‘I aggree its difficult to answer intelligent (if blaming person is male) / intelligent and beautiful ( if female)’ would help.