Why Every Married Couple Should Avoid the Blame Game

Playing the blame game is an unhealthy and damaging way for couples to approach problem solving. Rather than resolving conflicts, blame and finger-pointing actually make them worse. If you’re trying to build or maintain a healthy, intimate marriage, you’ll want to avoid blaming each other for problems in your life.

Let’s look at a few reasons why blame is so toxic to our marriages.

1. Blame doesn’t listen.

When you blame one another for a problem you’re facing–big or small–you are actively choosing not to listen to your spouse’s side of the story. This hurts your ability to be empathic and to hear them out when they explain their side. If you can’t walk in your spouse’s shoes to find out where they’re coming from or what you may have misunderstood, then you can’t get past the problem at hand.

Listening is one of the most important skills couples need to develop–as early as possible. Because when you refuse to listen–blaming your spouse for something that might not be their fault–you damage what might otherwise be a healthy relationship.

2. Blame assumes the worst.

Blaming your spouse for something they might not be responsible for means that, at least in the moment, you’re assuming the worst of them. Think about it this way: if your spouse always acted in your worst interests, would you have married them? Probably not.

Assuming the worst of your spouse is not a loving attitude to have. When you find yourself tempted to make snap assumptions, pause to consider what light you’re painting them in. Taking the time to put your assumptions on hold will help you approach the situation with greater clarity.

3. Blame puts your spouse in a defensive position.

You and your spouse will have a hard time working problems out if one of you is always on the defensive. When you cast blame toward one another, defensiveness is a natural result. That’s because blaming is always an offensive move.

When you force your spouse to take a defensive position, you effectively place an additional barrier between yourselves and the problem you’re trying to solve. Blame and defensiveness are extraneous obstacles you then have to overcome before you can get to the heart of the matter. If you want to solve the problem faster, avoid finger-pointing–and don’t go on the offensive.

4. Blame damages emotional safety.

Emotional safety is a critically important component in healthy marriages. If you don’t listen to your spouse in tough situations, automatically assume the worst of them, and keep them in a defensive position, then they’re going to feel emotionally unsafe with you.

When you damage the emotional safety in your relationship, that negatively affects trust and intimacy. If you value your spouse’s trust and the intimacy you enjoy, establish habits that nurture emotional safety and eliminate habits–like blame–that hurt it.

The bottom line: blame is not an act of love.

Blame is not a loving thing to do to anyone, and it has no place in marriage. It can sometimes be used as a control tactic. In some cases, blaming is an outward projection of our own internalized fears or insecurities.

The fact is, our relationships are only as healthy as we are, on an emotional, psychological, and spiritual level. Our book, Healthy Me, Healthy Us, can help you take a deep dive into your own emotional health so you can nurture your marriage for the better. Pick up your copy here.

Have you or your spouse been guilty of playing the blame game? How do you practice communication without blaming?


  • Monique Stam says:

    Just keep in mind that sometimes people need to take responsibility. When people don’t take responsibility for their actions, they tend to assume it’s your fault for being hurt, discouraged, let down. There are times the other person (not just in marriage) needs to take steps to make it right. We can’t continually live in a vacuum of letting others off the hook. It’s not good for them, or us. Yes, it’s different than the “blame game”. But it’s like “guilt”. Sometimes we should feel guilty-when we did something wrong! Sometimes we need the freedom of acknowledging (at least in our heads) that someone else did something that hurt us, made life difficult, messed up our finances and we had no control over it. Otherwise, some of us just take the heat, the blame, absorb the consequences …but one can only do that for so long.

  • mary kent says:

    Yes. Good stuff. I’m 73 yrs. old. I have experienced a forty year marriage with a man whom was very flawed. I learned of his pedophilia after 26 yrs of marriage. I tried to get him prosecuted. His word against mine….Well I could’nt live with him without much trauma…blame…abuse. I had to watch him as we were having grandchildren by then and the Lord asked me to stay with him to protect them untill they were old enough to tell on him. I stayed another 12 yrs…..total 40yrs all together. I was the guard. warden. and prisoner all in one. I left him when I turned 60 yrs. old. I learned much about blame as a smoke screen to take the focus off one’s own behavior. I coined this phrase….Claim don’t Blame. I must say If one does not Claim their responsibility in issues then they will never change. I want all to understand how important that one action is in all areas of life. Claim…don’t Blame. Then we have truth and something to work with.
    Thank you for what you do…. As a woman of my age I am dating now. We bought your Heathy Me book and are studying together as a dating couple. He’s a God fearing….loving man. I am a happy woman. Survivor of abuse!

  • Carrie Barba says:

    It would be helpful to actually define what blame is and is not before saying “don’t”.

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