Too many couples get stuck in a nasty cycle of trying to assign blame for their problems...squarely on their partner's buttocks (preferably pronounced with a Forrest Gump accent). It looks like the childhood game where you take a kid, blindfold them, hand them a thumbtack and a paper tail and just to make things interesting disorient them by spinning them around a few times before turning them loose. Truthfully, I haven't seen that game much here in SoCal but I think taking a close look at a piñata performance and the analogy will hold but this time it's with a stick and a moving target.
The more we blame...the more we try to explain. This cycle of blaming and explaining or attacking and defending gets us no where good, instead we just spin in circles and poke needless holes in each other. In the book Good to Great Jim Collins uses a term that I like "no fault autopsies." Many times who caused it matters less than what set up the problem and how do we better understand how we got here.
This isn't just a marriage problem. This is a societal one, but I don't have time for that now.
The second thing that this cycle triggers is shame. As Brene' Brown puts it we all experience shame storms when we do stupid. I'm quite familiar with this, I'm a professional stupid doer. Just today I was retelling a story of my worst car accident to our middle schooler and could feel the 20+ year old shame rising up. None of us want to be seen as deficient, flawed, unsuccessful and worse as failures...but all of us, are all of those things at times.
SO here is the set up. While I'm doing my darnedest to keep you from seeing my crap, you seem hell bent on exposing it. It's a chase sequence that could make the cut in a blockbuster film.
That is not a recipe for a great game or a great marriage. So while brushing things under the rug doesn't help either. Let's do our best to get out of the blame game where we focus on "the person" and start trying to see "the problem" instead.
- What is really going on here?
- Where have I felt this way before?
- Is there a story behind why I react so strongly when this happens?
Better understanding of self is always a recipe for better relationships. When we get our eyes on ourselves and share our stories our partners will feel less humiliated shamed or called a biblical donkey.