Why Spouses Blame: Loving and Helping Your Blaming Spouse

Why is your spouse blaming you? Is it really about you, or is it something about your spouse? Understanding the causes of blaming is a good step toward stopping it.blame and anger damages relationships

Being blamed a lot by your spouse is a different experience than occasionally being blamed. Reasonable and loving spouses will sometimes blame, and when they do, they are usually right. Spouses who blame a lot are obviously not right to everyone else around them.  But they do not seem to be able to see it themselves.  If you do manage to overwhelm them with the facts, instead of owning up to their mistake, they just blame you for something else.  What is going on and what can you do about it?  It turns out there are good answers to both of these questions.

People who blame a lot usually resist looking at their role or contribution to the problems.

If you are blamed for being impatient, for example, your spouse may not take any thought to why that might be so and how he or she may be contributing.  You may be blamed for being sexually unresponsive but your partner may never take a look at the way he or she treats you during sex and at other times, too.  You may be blamed for being a bad parent by a partner who never takes his or her turn at parenting.

Another characteristic of people who blame a lot is making other people responsible for their bad feelings, language, behaviors, or the situation.

If a blamer feels bad, then they think that someone else must have done something to cause that feeling.  If a blamer has abusive behavior, whether it’s toward others (such as verbal or physical abuse) or towards himself or herself (such as in addictions and isolation), then they blame their victims  (e.g. “It’s your fault that I drink”).   If a blamer is out of a job or a relationship, then naturally (they believe) there must have been something wrong with the employer or the partner.

A person who blames must be helped by someone else (like you)

If you are feeling stuck or trapped in your marriage, it is time to take action to make it better. As I wrote about in my book, What to Do When He Won’t Change, change cannot be initiated by the person who blames because he or she believes that change can only result from other people improving.  “If you weren’t so bad, then I wouldn’t be so mad.”  Such people have a great deal of self pity and a whole lot of anger toward others.  After all, they perceive themselves as victims of the world.  They think it’s so unfair that they have to put up with your inadequacy and help to take care of you at the same time.  They create their own feelings of resentment, and those feelings prevent them from feeling any kind of long term deep love.

People who blame hurt themselves as well as others

Their blame results in their hurting not only their partners, but also themselves.  It cuts them off from experiencing peace of mind, and from having long term close relationships.  A spouse of such a person has a chance to escape, but the person who blames cannot escape.  He or she has only a few happy moments surrounded by a lifetime of frustration and struggle.  If you have such a spouse, then I encourage you to see how much he or she needs your help.  It is only by you changing the way you respond to your spouse that will change this pattern of blame that is damaging your relationship.

Steps to helping your spouse stop his or her blaming problem:

  1. Don’t try to shift the blame back onto your spouse, even if your spouse is at fault.  In this case, fighting fire with fire will just make a bigger fire.
  2. Learn to not be provoked by the blaming.  See blaming as your spouse’s problem and don’t be provoked by it.  You can even tell your spouse that it is okay to blame you because you know it is hard for him or her to accept responsibility (be sympathetic, not sarcastic).
  3. Focus on the problem, rather than who is at fault.  Ask your spouse the best way to deal with it so that it doesn’t keep happening.  By continually shifting to “what to do rather than “who did it,” you will actually decrease your spouse’s blaming.

If you have consistently done these things, and it is not helping, you will need to switch to using boundaries such as walking away when you are blamed.  If your spouse is somewhat of a bully, you may need to get additional guidance and support using boundaries.

You have the power to maintain or change the way you and your spouse relate

When you have a difficult spouse, you need to see that their are two victims–you and your spouse.  Contrary to what you might think, the person who is most capable of changing things for the better is always the one with the least problems.  Getting your spouse to get into counseling will likely just get you resistance.  But, when you make changes in yourself, that is something that is not under your spouse’s control, so he or she has no choice but to change. Many difficult relationship patterns can be changed in little as two to four weeks with the right help.

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