How to defuse the blame game in your relationship
Are you frustrated that your partner won’t listen to you? So you keep bringing up the same issues over and over again, only to feel ignored.
If you both feel blamed, you can’t hear how the other person feels, so issues don’t get resolved when your relationship gets stuck in the blame game. Is your relationship stuck in the blame game, filled with criticism, finding fault, or stuck in the push-pull dynamic? So, how do you defuse the blame game in your relationship?
Signs of the blame game in your relationship:
- You feel bitter or resentful towards each other, instead of express how you feel.
- You can’t let go of issues, punishing each other- instead of addressing the issue when things are calm.
- You play tit for tat, instead of set limits or boundaries on the behaviours that hurt you.
- You get back at each other for the things that hurt you, instead of assertively raise the issue when they impact you.
- You feel your partner is responsible for how you feel, rather than acknowledge how their behaviour impacts you.
- You blame, label or judge the persons character, rather than hold them accountable for their actions.
- You point the finger and find fault in them for the cause of the problem, instead of letting them know where you stand.
- You make accusations or assumptions about their behaviour, drawing your own conclusions, rather then be curious and open to explore things.
The ways that couples protect themselves from pain can end up causing more hurt. Sometimes, couples can’t manage these conflicts on their own, because they react to discharge the feelings. So, how do you prevent the blame game in your relationship?
If your relationship feels like it’s lost it’s way, it might be time to seek professional help in order to manage the intense feelings that underpin these behaviours.
You might be afraid that marriage counselling could leave you feeling attacked or blamed in your relationship.
There are some conditions that are necessary for couples therapy to work. The therapist must not take sides or get drawn into the pull of the couple’s dynamic but works collaboratively with the couple to understand the negative pattern of interaction that keeps them stuck. In order to set the scene, the therapist must de-escalate conflict.
If you feel rejected or feel not good enough in your relationship, it’s easy to protect yourself from feeling this way by finding fault in the person who triggers you. You can end up blaming your partner for how you feel, when these feelings get stirred up. So, your marriage becomes stuck in blame or criticism.
It can feel safer to alleviate the pain by using criticism or blame in order to avoid the feeling. You may find that the ways you protect yourself from hurt can end up evoking a defensive response in your partner.
Like many couples, it is easy to get stuck in the negative pattern of interactions that protects you from how you feel. John Gottman’s research predicted that defensiveness, criticism, contempt and stonewalling are strong predictors for divorce.
Instead of being understood for how you feel, perhaps you’ve become misunderstood as attacking your partner. This can cause him or her to move away or react defensively.
Communication breaks down when you each feel blamed or attacked, instead of understanding the underlying hurt. So you’re unable to respond in a way that meets each other’s needs. Here are 7 ways to defuse the blame game in your relationship.
7 ways to stop the blame game in your relationship.
- Expressing your feelings using ‘I’ statements, instead of ‘you’ statements.
- Raise issues after you’ve processed how you feel, rather then react in the heat of the moment.
- Find a suitable time to raise issues when each of you are calm and accessible to each other.
- If things escalate, let the other person know you can’t manage the conversation at this point in time and come back to it after a break.
- Before you express yourself, ask yourself how the other person is likely to respond.
- Express yourself while considering how the other will receive you. Express yourself from the mind set that your partner can hear you.
- Get in touch with the underlying feeling behind your reaction and express how you feel.
Couples counselling can help to illuminate the underlying feelings behind the reaction so you can express how you feel, rather than hurt each other. It is designed to dismantle negative patterns of interaction, so partners can express the underlying hurt in ways that build a stronger connection. In this way couples can de-escalate blame in the relationship.
Couples can see each other through particular lenses, based on the past experiences with caregivers. Seeing a therapist can offer clearer perspectives or offer other ways of seeing each other that can shift how you feel towards your partner and respond in a way that meets your partner’s needs.
Instead of being seen as attacking, your partner might understand your feelings of rejection and respond in a way that makes you feel more secure. Instead of withdrawing, he might not be scared of your reaction and come closer towards you.
In order to break the negative cycle of interaction, you can discover new ways of communicating and ways to respond.
When you can respond in a way that meets your partner’s needs, you can be more available and accessible to each other. Instead of protecting yourself and hurting each other, you can open yourself up to receiving and giving love back.
If your relationship is stuck in the blame game, couples counselling can help you to break down the defensive patterns of communication, move past stuckness and foster moments of deeper connection. In this way you can defuse the blame game in your relationship, and learn how to express your feelings without blame or resentment getting in the way.
As a relationship therapist, Nancy Carbone has a M Soc Sc (Couns) who helps couples overcome the blame game in relationships. If you are feeling stuck in your relationship contact Nancy on her website or sign up on her newsletter for relationship tips.Back to Blog Home