Stop the Blame Game

Point fingers and you'll end up bickering -- again. A better relationship may begin with a simple shift in tone.

Blame is one of the trickiest issues couples face -- because it's so misunderstood. We look to it as a way to assign responsibility, solve problems, and encourage changes in behavior -- and yet blame does none of these things. Rather, it creates animosity and divisiveness which inevitably erode trust and make both partners unhappy. What's worse, we often believe we're operating with the best of intentions ("I'm only trying to help!"). But one accusatory comment leads to another and before you know it, you're trapped in the thorny thicket of blame. There is a way out -- and it involves removing blame from the equation. Here are three strategies for changing things up.

Step 1: Avoid the Accusatory Question and State the Facts.
Instead of: "Why didn't you tell me you'd be late?"
Try: "I was upset that you weren't here when I thought you'd be."

Step 2: Empathize Rather Than Criticize.
Instead of: "At least I call you when I'm going to be late."
Try: "I understand and totally appreciate why you were delayed."

Step 3: Make Your Request Without the Negative Tone.
Instead of: "I wish just once you weren't so careless with other people's time."
Try: "It would make me feel a lot better if you'd just text me when you know you're running late. Would you mind doing that next time?"

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