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The Detriment of Finger Pointing: How Blame is Damaging Your Relationship

“If you would’ve just told me what is wrong then I wouldn’t have to get angry with you to get it out!” Have you or your partner used some variation of this sentence before? It goes something like this; “if you ______ then I wouldn’t ______”. This is classic finger-pointing/blame-shifting/lack of accountability in the relationship. You are essentially blaming your partner for your poor behavior or reaction in a situation that otherwise could be worked through in a positive way.

The Losing Battle of Blame

Blaming can become a battle; war is on the horizon and unfortunately there is no winner. Blame can be likened to walking at night with your partner and getting mugged, then you and your partner start fighting each other because y’all just got robbed. It sounds ludicrous yet we still do it. Finger-pointing is detrimental to relationships because it lacks some core foundational points for being in a healthy relationship. These are:

  • Truth-defined as that which is in accordance to fact or reality.

  • Transparency-information from you to your partner is free-flowing, offered willingly without omitting.

  • Communication-expression of thoughts, feelings, emotions, perspectives with the intent of also being open to receiving these back.

  • Support-showing up for one another, being present even when it is not convenient, allowing your partner to rest in your comfort.

Checking Your Ego at the Door

So you see, it can be easy to betray your relationship when the focus is on proving yourself right. I have told countless couples that the ego needs to be checked at the door when operating in a healthy relationship. Our ego drives the need to be right, it tells us all the ways your partner is wrong, and it refuses to listen with sensitive ears. Here are some tips for checking the ego at the door and showing up in our relationship as an accountable partner.

  1. Accountability-requires us to take ownership for our behaviors. Accountability responds in a way that keeps those foundational points in the relationship, it allows us to recognize where we went off track and speaks that aloud to our partner. What was my role in this? How did I contribute negatively to this issue we are having?

  2. Identifying emotions-oftentimes we become triggered by something that then spirals us into blaming and finger-pointing. Shame, guilt, insecurity can all play a part. Even a bad day can have every interaction with our partner feeling like an attack. What am I actually feeling right now? What part of this conversation has me so defensive?

  3. Role reversal-means putting yourself in your partner’s shoes and asking how would you feel if the roles were reversed? This is a great technique for practicing empathy and understanding that your partner is not your enemy (support is foundational remember?).

Find a Counselor who Knows Relationships

If for some reason you and your partner are unable to work through these issues together, it might be worth investing in couples counseling. The role of the counselor is to facilitate a space that allows you both to be accountable, express worries/fear/shame, and get a shift in perspective from someone who is not emotionally invested in the relationship.

At Mind Works Counseling Services in Lubbock, TX, we specialize in helping couples navigate the difficulties in their relationships. Most of the time, it only takes learning a few skills to help you and your partner get back on track.

Learn more about the Relationship Therapy services we offer.

Contact us to schedule an appointment or to let us answer any questions you may have.

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