Blame In Relationships

Hi Reader,

The other day I got into a heated argument with my (frustrated lawyer) 23-year old son. I accused him / my husband of misplacing the spare key to our house which we keep in a hidden place in our garage. Given the fact that my son Alec NEVER puts anything back where it should be, it seemed only logical that he was the probable culprit, although my A.D.D. riddled husband was a likely runner up. (I, of course, NEVER misplace anything, I’m so perfect.) My outraged son said that the context was highly exaggerated and moot, and that my default position of blaming was NASTY and UNFAIR! (Of course, shortly afterward I found the key in question buried under a pile of beach bags and coolers we all use). But it got me thinking about how often I’m guilty of blaming, and how frequently I see it in my couples therapy practice, and how toxic it usually is. There are a few things we all need to do to avoid the “blame game”:
1.  Admit we have been doing it and resolve to STOP.
2.  Think about our own part in a problem & take responsibility for our own role, not project it outward.
(i.e. me considering how I may also have contributed to the garage mess leading to the missing key).
3.  Consider how we may set ourselves up for being seen as the “guilty party”, and change our behavior.
(Alec being willing to look at the context– that if he’s continually leaving things all over the house,
car and yard, it would be logical for others to assume he’s also the one who LOST THE KEY!!!!!!)
Thankfully, in our case it ended with a truce and good will.  But if you do it too with some frequency in your relationships, watch out — it’s a relationship “sinkhole”!


Susan Lager
P.S.  Take my newly published Couplespeak™ Marriage Fitness Test at:

About Susan Lager

ABOUT ME Susan Lager, LICSW, BCD I grew up in New Rochelle, a suburb of NYC, lived in Manhattan for ten years during college and graduate school, and escaped the madness for the wilds of Maine to be with Thom, the sweet man I'm still married to after 34 years. (We have an awesome 29 year old son named Alec who will run the free world someday). I knew I'd survive the relocation from New York when I discovered the scenic, historic little city of Portsmouth, on the coast of New Hampshire, with its winding streets, great restaurants, and music everywhere. I was especially thrilled to attend the Portsmouth Psychotherapy Institute, an offshoot of the B.I.P., where I did post-graduate training, and then went into private practice creating The Couples Center PLLC, doing psychotherapy, with individuals, couples and groups. In 2010 I opened a division of the practice called COUPLESPEAK™, providing live and online coaching, training programs, workshops, and written materials for people in different kinds of partnerships. I'm still passionate about the work, which is NEVER boring! My clients are courageous pioneers, and they've taught me lots I'll pass on......
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