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The Blame Game

January 30, 2009

Sometimes in my practice I have the job of traffic cop. I direct the oncoming traffic of partners’ arguments, and signal them to slow down, play fair, and prevent collisions created by the mutually assured destruction of the blame game . After all, what’s the point? To prove who can do the most harm, cause the most damage to the other? Is that really the goal when you have a disagreement?

And many times, just as in traffic, people change arguments as fast as they change lanes, without signalling, or paying attention to what the other partner may be doing or saying. Couples often begin with the words, “I can’t even remember what started it, and it sounds stupid, but…I can’t get over it.” Stupid fights are often meaningful, if poorly conducted. Stupid fights that aren’t resolved build on themselves, creating ill will and mistrust in their paths.

I direct partners to first play fair and fight fair. Replace blame with claims for what they want or need, rather than hurling accusations. It’s so much easier to feel self-righteously angry than make yourself a bit more vulnerable by asking for what you need. It takes so much more work to even think of what could make a situation better; easier to point fingers. Pointing fingers, the blame game, is as ancient as stone throwing. Is that really your goal? Feels good, not good for you, or your relationship. So try to see it your partner’s way, and ask them to do the same for you.
Dr. B. Hibbs, author of Try to See It My Way: Being Fair in Love and Marriage

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