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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Is Your Mate a Blamer?

"Well, if you hadn't done this, I could have accomplished that!"

Does this sound familiar, either in its specifics or in its general tone?

If it does, you may be married to a 'blamer' - someone who has to determine responsibility for everything that goes wrong.

And, oddly enough, these folks are, in their reality, almost never to blame.

When you read it, this sounds kind of awful. I mean, being chained for life to someone who ducks responsibility for bad things, and makes sure the blame falls elsewhere? Yuck!

But not so fast, please. Relax that "I just bit into a lemon" face, and stop mentally forming retorts you'll never deliver.

Let's give them a chance. They're not bad, or disloyal. They've been hurt, and they're still lashing out.

Blaming is learned at an early age. The Bible says to raise a child in the way you'd like her to continue, and that shows how important early conditioning is.

Blamers get lousy conditioning. Almost all of them grew up in an environment in which blame had to be determined. Everything stopped while the jury was in session.

And the children of blaming parents took a large share of the blame, as well. They were convenient targets who couldn't fight back.

The result? An adult who will do anything to avoid taking negative responsibility, and who will try to shift that responsibility - and anchor it - elsewhere.

They were never good enough. The 'blaming culture' demands a target, and children in that environment simply can't escape. No matter how hard they try to be perfect and escape the blame, they won't. A minor slip...or even no slip. Just being there can put a child in the dungeon of blame ("If you hadn't been born I could have gone back to school!" As if conception was the child's responsibility.)

They're scared. In many blaming families, there's an implicit threat of rejection for repeated screwups. "What am I going to do with you?" is a banal phrase for an adult, but for a seven-year-old it's a real, open question - and seven-year-olds are quite capable of understanding that some children wind up away from their home and family.

For an adult, the fear is that admitting one mistake will cause their 'perfect' house of cards to collapse, and you won't want them any more.

As I said - not bad people. Just trying to live through early bad examples. But how do you live with a blamer?

Realize that it's not really about you. This is hard, when you're on the receiving end. But the whole point of pointing the finger at someone else is to escape, and carve aa safe niche for themselves. It's all about them. Remember the old adage - when you point a finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you.

You won't win. Arguing the point is useless. You're doomed to lose, and these arguments can get verbally bloody...and cause a lot more damage than the original issue would have. Remember, the blaming spouse has been in this mode for his or her whole life.

Instead of trying to win, just work to get past it. An answer like, "I don't agree, but I understand how you might feel that way" gives the blamer something of a win, but doesn't commit you to a loss.

Forget it happened. An interesting part of 'blamer' behavior is that they often reset quickly. Once responsibility is established, the sun comes out.

Accept the sun. Don't hold your ill-treatment to your heart. Let it go. Yes, it will repeat, but think of it as a recurrent storm in life. In a real storm, you use an umbrella and raincoat - but would you keep them on when the sun comes back out?

Look to the positive. You married this person for a number of very good reasons (at least, I hope so!). The blaming behavior may have been there during courtship (if it was, probably not directed at you), or it may have come out only after your mate was back in a 'family' situation.

But remember - the person you married is genuine, and maybe has a few flaws.

So do we all.


  1. I try so hard to apologize and take responsibility for my mistakes. No easy, but freeing and life-affirming of those you have heart. You have such great words to share.

  2. Taking responsibility is so important, and I think that when we stand before the Almighty, it'll be pretty much unavoidable.

    Good practice for that day, maybe, to do it with one's spouse?

  3. It becomes emotional abuse