Why do partners blame each other? Blame is often a way of fleeing from ourselves in order to stop the pain in our hearts. In this way, blame can be seen as a threat response; something triggers us and we move into threat detection mode, attacking what we perceive as the cause. Unfortunately, this is a lose/lose proposition; either you’re the “bad guy” or you’re married to a “bad guy”. Neither option feels very hopeful and can ignore the reality that, as imperfect human beings we all hurt each other at some point. The difficulty with this pattern is that our response often triggers our partner’s threat response, pushing us into a negative cycle of attack/defend or attack/attack.
Some good options to shift this pattern in the moment:
✨ “I just noticed my defenses getting raised, can we pause for a moment so I can re-engage”
✨ “When I hear (reference tone or specific word) or see (reference behavior in a nonjudgmental way if at all possible), I begin to feel (name emotion) and then I (describe your behavior)
✨ “I’m noticing myself wanting to blame you right now but I don’t want to become disconnected, can we slow down together?”
✨ “When I feel attacked, I can’t hear your pain and I really want to, do you think you can say it another way so I can connect with you?”
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* The information provided is for self-enrichment and not intended to replace any necessary mental health treatment.