How to Stop Blaming Your Partner
Most couples that come to see me are in a state of blame. They’re focused on what the other person is doing or isn’t doing that’s creating disharmony in their relationship. Since we are all human, this makes perfect sense. We’re all susceptible to falling into the trap of blame if we’re not paying attention. Unfortunately, blaming others puts you in the position of the victim, where you feel that you have no control over your circumstances. This takes away your power to create change in the relationship, which is what couples come to me for. My advice? It’s time to make the choice to stop blaming your partner.
You Can Always Choose
Every day you are faced with hundreds of choices and you assess the potential consequences and advantages with each, whether you are conscious of it or not. The choice between eating in or going out is a lot easier than, say, choosing to leave your marriage. Even not taking action is a decision you must make!
Here is the thing about making choices: the more you do it, the more you will build your confidence - even in your relationship. When you hem and haw around a decision, it creates stress. The fear and discomfort of the unknown increase, and having to make a choice from this place doesn’t feel good. This is when we may start to blame others, and insist that they must change instead.
I want to encourage you to make the decision to stop blaming your partner and to step up in your relationship, even if your partner is not. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but you also don’t have to lower your standards in what you want from your partnership. This is called taking accountability.
Be Accountable to Yourself and Your Relationship
It takes two to tango, and this relationship dance is made up of both partners making moves that influence that of the other. It’s how the relationship system functions to maintain the status quo. So when things start to go wrong and you aren’t connecting with one another, you can get entangled in emotions. These emotions can trigger old, habitual reactions of self-protection and your instinct is to put on your armor. The more the two of you go round and round like this, the tighter the armor becomes. It becomes impossible to be vulnerable with armor on.
When this happens, you can make the decision to keep doing more of the same, or you can decide to be accountable to yourself and the relationship. This requires you to raise your standards and decide how you want the relationship to be. What qualities do you desire more of? Some examples could be honesty, love, trust, communication, respect, vulnerability, support, and compassion. Create the vision of where you want to go, then move forward and empower yourself to get there.
Rebuild Your Personal Agency
Establishing a stronger personal agency will empower you to move toward your desired future (relationally and personally). Take back your power by recognizing when you are falling into the trap of blame, victimhood, resentment and frustration. Feel empowered by the knowledge that you have choices and power to create a better relationship. Then you can act in ways that are more aligned with the qualities you desire in yourself and your relationship. Since that may sound easier said than done, here are some tips to help you rebuild your personal agency.
Clarify your boundaries. Spend time thinking about what you are or are not willing to tolerate in your life. This includes the thoughts you have about yourself, your life, and your relationship. It also includes how much you tolerate not getting your needs met, or putting others’ needs ahead of your own (or that of the relationship). When you aren’t clear on your boundaries, you lose yourself and your sense of agency. Others around you don’t see your limits because they aren’t clear. So, make them clearer. As a result, others know what to expect and you get to show up empowered and accountable.
Assess your narrative. Have a look at the stories you tell yourself that are creating walls, closing you off, and keeping you stuck. Start by writing down the thoughts and beliefs you have about your partner. Is this creating a wall between you? How could you stretch or grow to stay open, versus guarded? What boundaries might you need to clarify?
My FREE Limiting Beliefs Worksheet can help support you through this process.
Stay open to learning. Once you step into criticism or judgement you close the door to growth. By adopting a learner mindset, you can move through challenging moments and be less likely to fall into old traps with your partner. This is how you get to be responsible for yourself and to others; you learn to listen, get curious and see things from multiple perspectives. As your view expands, so do your choices.
Advocate for yourself. Being responsible to others does not mean being all things to them. Rather, you need to show up and become who you have the potential to be, based on the life and relationship you desire.
In order to have the relationship you desire, you need to look at the very qualities you envision for the relationship, and live in alignment with that. If you want more vulnerability from your partner, are you creating a space for them to show up vulnerably? Do you show up and be vulnerable yourself? What you do matters, and you can initiate change. First, stop blaming your partner, and then step into who you need to be to create the relationship you want. Start with yourself, strengthen your personal agency and do your part no matter what. You deserve it!