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?