February 18, 2015

“YOU DID WHAT? We can’t live like this! Don’t you care about our marriage or family?” Does this sound familiar? This couple is experiencing the ever classic “BLAME” game: “We have a problem and it’s your fault…”

Assigning blame usually leads to hurt and anger. It robs us of energy we could use more productively in searching for solutions together.

The next time you find yourself starting down the road called “blame” try this instead:

1. Stop.
2. Change your focus from “Who is the problem” to “What is the problem?
3. Once you have defined the problem, ask each other: “What are some possible solutions?”

This process will help you move from personal confrontation to a plan for resolution. The focus will be on the issue rather than on the person.

Example: A couple discuss their spending problems.

Blame game: You bought what? You spend too much. We will be in debt for the rest of our lives if you don’t stop your impulsive spending. We can’t pay our bills because you are out of control.

Rather than attacking each other, define the problem. What’s the problem? Possible answers: No clear budget or unrealistic budget. No real agreement on priorities. Lack of understanding or unwillingness to accept the impact that one’s action is having on finances.

What’s a possible solution?

  • Record everything spent for a month to see where the money is going.
  • Decide not to spend on any non-budget item without agreement.
  • Discuss the place you would like to be financially in one, three or five years.

Action: Identify areas where the blame game is occurring in your relationship. Ask the two questions: What’s the problem? What’s a possible solution?


Written by Mike Woodard

Mike Woodard

Mike is married to Karen, he is father of 4 and grandfather of 2. Backpacking is his favourite past time. Science and theology are his educational background, a biology degree from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in Christian Studies from Trinity Western Seminary. Mike is the Associate Director of FamilyLife Canada. For more of his story visit familylifecanada.com/mike