How to Avoid the Blame Game in Relationships

3 steps to work together to solve problems in relationships

Even the best of relationships can be affected by the blame game. We blame others for many reasons, but the outcome is usually the same: Our partner instinctively goes on the defense, blames us in return and an argument ensues. However, taking a little responsibility and carefully approaching delicate topics can go a long way in maintaining healthy relationships. Take a look at these simple guidelines that might help you avoid the blame game in the future.

Step 1: Approach the problem strategically, and take responsibility

Arguments in relationships begin when one of the partners or spouses feels unsatisfied with some aspect of the marriage or relationship. Normally, the unsatisfied partner will approach the other to express his displeasure about the situation. Feeling attacked, the other partner will put up defensive walls, justify her own actions and point out flaws in the unsatisfied partner's behavior. Feelings get hurt, tempers flare and the issue itself rarely gets resolved or even discussed in a constructive manner.

Cory B. Honickman, a relationship coach and marriage planner, suggests that before you say anything to your partner, you should think of at least three ways that you have contributed to the problem yourself. Then, come up with three or more constructive ways you might resolve the problem as a team. After that, ask your partner what a good time would be for both of you to discuss the problem and share your thoughts.

Step 2: Use "I feel" phrases

In an effort to avoid the blame game, some people bottle up their feelings and choose not to address problems at all. It may postpone conflict, but it's not healthy to ignore a problem either.

Larry Alan Nadig, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and marriage counselor, recommends instead you should let your partner know your feelings by using phrases that begin with "I feel." An "I feel" statement can't be refuted by your partner, nor will it seem like an attack. If your partner truly loves you and cares about you, he or she will want to understand how you feel and will help you work through the problem as a team.

Step 3: Be prepared to say "I'm sorry"

An apology goes a long way. It defuses anger and builds trust. Pschyotherapist Robi Ludwig, Psy.D., indicates that making things right with your partner is much more crucial than being right. Taking responsibility for your words and actions demonstrates your own humility and your love for your partner, and it helps to heal hurting relationships.

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