If we think of a relationship as a street, each person is on one side of the street and we meet in the middle. Each of you is responsible for looking after your own side of the street and "fixing" anything that you notice on your side. This may include behaviors, things you have avoided noticing, mindsets that you have, the "potholes" of life.
Why do we look to blame our partner for difficulties in our relationships? Even though this blame isn't always verbalized, it lives in our mindsets.
If she wasn't so free in her spending we wouldn't be in this mess. OR If he made more money we wouldn't have to cut back.
Do you recognize either of these ideas? We're often "programmed" to look for blame when there is a problem. I can hear my mother angrily asking, "Who made this mess?"
When all three of us had been playing. Then, finger pointing ensued. He did it. She did it. The question, Who made this mess? Invites the child to look for blame. In this case, we had all made the mess, but that wasn't the answer that usually was voiced.
Looking for blame becomes a "self-protective strategy" which is practiced throughout childhood and often stays with us into adulthood. (Not everyone does this, but a vast majority of us do.) The underlying mindset is self-protection, sometimes, even from ourselves. We can convince ourselves that we are innocent of any responsibility, but if we continue that mindset, no solution to the problem is possible.
It's difficult to look at our own contributions to whatever problem has arisen. For some people, it's a foreign concept. If we're to use psychological terms, we have created strong self-protective strategies or defenses, which we might not be aware of. As children, perhaps they protected us from getting into trouble, but as adults, they keep us from owning up to our part of the responsibility for problems and therefore, not being able to solve those problems.
So, awareness becomes important when we think of problems in our relationships. If we become aware that "Who is to blame?" is the wrong question, then we're well on the way to creating a loving atmosphere that enables us to address issues in a productive way.
A BETTER QUESTION: Here's a good "right" question in the above example: "What are we going to do to get our finances in order?
Notice that this question doesn't include blame. It does include WE. Except in extreme circumstances (like gambling), each person has a part in creating the problem, and each person can have a part in fixing it.
When we focus on the problem, rather than who to blame, people often realize that their own responsibility for creating the problem. This is not to blame yourself; it's to share responsibility for the creation and the fixing of the problem.
It's a difficult endeavor to change our mindsets, but it's well worth the time. Once we alter the way we think about problems and reduce the influence of our self-protective strategies, then we have opened the door to solving the problem. When we approach the problem with the idea of shared responsibility, we can get into ACTION to solve that problem. And, because there is no blame, your relationship is made stronger because you have worked together to create a better future for you and your family.
With love, Carol
You might decide that you need help in figuring out how you show up as people, and the impact you have on one another. The question arises, “How can we be better as a couple?”
If you want more help from me in growing your relationship from where it is now to where you want it to be, please let me know.
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