Blame Game Won't Solve Anything
Guest Author, Anne Kass, - a retired District Judge of Albuquerque, New Mexico
The most important question anyone can ask when they find themselves involved in a dispute is, "How did I contribute to this problem?"
Most people I see in divorce court can go on for hours, describing in great detail all the mistakes that the other person has made and how all the problems are his/her fault. More often than not neither spouse considers the other's wrongs to be mere "mistakes." They're each absolutely certain the other was intentionally nasty. But when I ask each of them to tell me two mistakes he or she made that contributed to the problems, it generally takes each several minutes to remember even one.
Recently I posed this question to a couple who'd been married 23 years. That's a long time within which to make a mistake or two. The husband had been talking about the wife's extravagant spending habits and how she'd complained about living in Albuquerque. The wife had been going on about how rude the husband was and how he always had to have things his way and make all the decisions. Each insisted the other had been inconsiderate for years.
However, neither one of them could come up with one, single mistake he or she had made--not one, in 23 years.
The answer to the question "How did I contribute to this problem?" is important because it provides a road map to solutions. Solutions usually require people to change.
Each of us has absolute power to change our own behavior and attitudes. None of us has any power to change someone else's. We can influence someone else to change or we can motivate or inspire them. But if they are to make changes, it will be only because they alone wanted to change.
So, when husbands and wives focus their time and energy on what the other spouse has done wrong, they are not realistically addressing solutions. They're just playing the blame game which is convenient, safe and familiar. However, the blame game will not produce change or lead to solutions.
If you're looking for whose fault it was that a marriage failed, you'll find there's always plenty of fault to go around. That is why in New Mexico the law says that fault is not relevant to divorce. Fault finding is a waste of time.
If you're looking to understand why a marriage failed for the purpose of learning from the past to prevent repeating mistakes, that is a very wise way to invest time and energy. But that needs to be an internal investigation. When you ask, "How did I contribute to this problem?" the answers will show you how to avoid making the same mistakes again. The answers will tell you how to change yourself.
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