Blame in your marriage facilitates toxic emotional environments for you and your spouse. You can blame for many reasons, but each of them accrue damage to your relationship. Alternatives exist to placing blame creating the opportunity for you and your partner to adopt more positive communication. Understanding how blame manifests and affects your relationships will help you avoid it and create positive communication within your relationship.
Whys and Hows of Blame
People blame their partners for many reasons. This tactic is often used to create change in a partner. You may blame your partner for not cleaning up after himself to goad him into becoming more neat. However, this tactic may only serve to increase negative feelings in your relationship. Blame also occurs through many avenues, such as accusation, embarrassment and criticism. If you accuse your partner of being inconsiderate because he does not save enough food for you at dinner, then you are blaming him. Regardless of the reason, blame does not contribute to healthy relationships.
What Blame Does
Blame has two prime objectives: to protect you and project your feelings. There are two sides to any conflict, but blaming only holds one party responsible. Blaming protects you from negative feelings attributed to your behavior. Placing blame also projects your unwanted feelings onto your partner. For instance, in a conflict you may feel upset but do not feel as though you should be, so you may blame your partner's anger for the argument. Instead of taking responsibility for your emotions, you perceive your partner as the prime offender. Both of these processes hinder effective communication and do not allow you to take responsibility for your feelings or actions. Protecting yourself and projecting blame onto your partner does not benefit the relationship and leads to other ramifications.
Blame's Damaging Effects
Blame induces many damaging effects within your relationship. When you or your partner use blaming language, you create a negative environment between yourselves. Blame can lead to feelings of resentment. When one partner blames another, the blamed partner may feel as though she can never do anything right. Blame can also increase a partner's stress. For instance, whenever one partner makes a mistake, the other blames her for being forgetful or inconsiderate. When these experiences are repeated, she may feel as though there is nothing she can do to feel appreciated. Stress and resentment can hinder the growth of a relationship, and when blame induces these feelings, a marriage suffers.
Alternative: I Statements
I statements reduce blaming by taking ownership of your feelings. When you use an I statement, you tell your partner why you are upset and in response to a specific situation. These statements empower you and reduce perceptions of manipulation in your communication. An example of an I statement is: I felt frustrated when you left your tools out because I had to spend extra time cleaning. Instead of blaming your partner for his actions, you state your feelings following his exact behavior. This technique serves to reduce blaming language and increase the quality of your communication with your partner.