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”!
P.S. Take my newly published Couplespeak™ Marriage Fitness Test at: