This blog post has taken me some time to get around to… It is a testament to my stellar ability to push an article aside and hope it magically writes itself. Unfortunately, it never does.

We are all culprits of procrastination; the path of least resistance beckons us all, especially after a hard day’s work. After dealing with job stress, a chaotic drive home, and kids fighting in the back seat over who touched who’s arm, I know many would prefer to kick back and relax than face problems in our relationship.

It’s no secret that relationships can be challenging, but I often encounter a recurring theme: a reluctance to confront and address issues head-on.

The Reality Behind Procrastination

Procrastination, the art of delaying or avoiding tasks, is a pervasive human behavior. It’s not just a simple matter of lacking discipline; a complex interplay of psychological and emotional factors is at play.

People tend to procrastinate due to emotional factors such as fear, anxiety, and self-doubt. In a relationship, it might manifest as a reluctance to address uncomfortable issues or confront potentially awkward conversations. 

The brain’s reward system also plays a significant role – we prioritize immediate gratification over long-term benefits. This means we’re more inclined to avoid a difficult conversation today, even if it would lead to a better relationship tomorrow. So why should we talk about the problems in our relationship instead of curling up with a good book or binge-watching the latest Netflix series?

As hard as it may be, addressing issues as early as possible is far better than letting them build and fester, where they grow into something daunting and untenable for both partners.

The Elephant in the Room

Procrastination can be devastating to relationships. Unaddressed issues fester, resentments grow, and emotional distance widens. A small unresolved argument could one day create a chasm between both couples.

While we think we’re avoiding discomfort, we’re exacerbating it. Procrastination creates a negative cycle that may erode trust and intimacy, widening the gap between partners. It is a vicious cycle; the worse the problem becomes, the less we want to confront it.

The Road to Repair

Confronting problems within your relationship takes courage from both parties, and you must both be willing to do so with an open mind where you can learn, understand, empathize, and heal from the hurt.

One Small Step at a Time

Let’s approach this as we would a giant, 10,000-piece jigsaw puzzle—one with some pictures but mostly color. The color is the emotion we are trying to understand and piece together. 

When we begin a jigsaw puzzle, it can be a little overwhelming. We dump all the pieces onto the table, a jumble that makes no sense to anyone. Slowly, you begin sifting through the pieces to find the corners, the edges, the colors that match, and so on.

You want to begin with the easier parts of the puzzle first, to find a structure so that the big picture gradually, over time, begins to appear. This is an excellent way to approach problems in your relationship, especially if you are both prone to procrastination or avoidance.

So, think about a problem you agree upon. Something small you can talk about to open the lines of communication. The goal is to learn how to speak with each other to solve issues harmoniously so that you can gradually incorporate these discussions into your life. This way, when a minor problem arises, you can resolve it before it becomes unmanageable.

The Big Picture

Set clear goals for yourselves and agree to prioritize the health of your relationship. You agree to address issues before they escalate instead of letting them fester or completely ignoring them.

The Importance of Empathy

Empathy allows you to understand and share your partner’s feelings, helping you connect more deeply. It fosters a sense of openness and enables you to discuss your issues. 

Genuinely listen to your partner’s perspective, acknowledge their emotions, and validate their experiences.

Take Time for Self-Reflection

Think about your actions and behavior in your relationship and recognize that they play a part in the dynamics of your partnership. Owning your problems requires self-awareness and a commitment to personal growth.

Celebrate your Progress

Making a change in any form is difficult, but to do it as a couple can be challenging. Take the time to celebrate your small successes and be proud of the progress you make. When we encourage each other, we reinforce positive behavior. 

Seek Professional Help

If there are un-resolved issues that are causing significant issues in your marriage, consider an appointment with a Psychologist specializing in relationship issues. My details are at the end of this article.

Finally, Be Kind to Yourself

Change takes time, patience, and understanding. Resolving issues swept under the rug for extended periods may sometimes feel overwhelming, but be patient with yourself and each other. Know that you are both working towards a common goal, and be compassionate to yourself and each other as you move through this journey together.

To learn more about how to overcome problems within your relationship, download our full course: “Anger and Your Relationship; the Road to Repair.”

Anger and your relationship: The road to repair gives you the skills you need to transform your relationship from conflict to peace-even if your partner does not actively participate in the process. The program consists of 23 short videos and many practical worksheets and exercises. Presented in a way to keep you committed, motivated and engaged. 

If you would like to schedule and appointment with me, please click here

Life would be blissful and easy in a perfect world, and blame would never point in our direction. We could skate through life doing what we pleased, never being held accountable for our actions. Unfortunately, such a world does not exist, and we all must take responsibility. 

While conflicts and disagreements are a normal part of any relationship, how a couple handles these challenges can significantly impact the dynamics of any relationship. 

A common issue in my practice is when one partner blames the other and refuses to accept responsibility for their actions. This is a recipe for disaster and, if left unchecked, can and will cause a breakdown in even the strongest relationships.

Understanding the Blame Game

Blaming and avoiding responsibility can be a defense mechanism. Here, one person is unwilling to acknowledge their mistakes, shortcomings, or contributions to conflicts and instead blames their partner, holding them solely responsible for the problem. This pattern of behavior, if left unchecked, can create resentment and lead to a serious and sometimes irreparable breakdown in the relationship. 

Lets look at one example:

After a hectic day playing chauffeur to her three children, cooking dinner, and getting the kids bathed and in their pyjamas, Sarah noticed the dirty dishes still piled in the sink. She turned to her husband, “You agreed to do the dishes while I put the kids to bed; why are they still here?” she asked, tired and now quite frustrated.

Tom, defensively, responded, “Stop being so demanding and critical! I need a break, I’m the one who has been at work all day, not you.”

Sarah, though exhausted, sighed and started loading the dishwasher. “I should have managed my time better; I’m sorry.” She replied, now feeling both shame and guilt.

This scenario wasn’t new; Sarah often took the blame to avoid arguments. Tom, accustomed to deflecting responsibility, continued, “You always say sorry but never change. You just make excuses.”

Their conversation spiraled into a familiar pattern. Sarah habitually takes the blame to diffuse tension, and Tom habitually shifts responsibility and commitments, leaving both feeling dissatisfied but trapped in a cycle difficult to break.

How Does the Blame Game Affect Communication?

When one partner consistently plays the blame game, they undermine open and honest dialogue as they continue to evade responsibility. Instead of discussing issues together, they engage in a cycle of accusations and defensiveness, making it nearly impossible to communicate openly and honestly, leaving no way to resolve the issue.

Moreover, blaming and avoiding responsibility often leads to miscommunication. Partners may misunderstand each other’s perspectives, intentions, and emotions, further fuelling the conflict. The inability to take responsibility for your actions can result in a lack of empathy for your partner’s feelings and experiences, causing emotional distance and eroding trust within the marriage.

It is essential to communicate effectively with your partner; without communication, the relationship dissolves, leaving both parties feeling isolated and distanced from each other.

Self-Esteem and Emotional Well-being

The blame game within a marriage significantly affects self-esteem and emotional well-being. When one person consistently shifts blame onto their partner, they neglect their ability for personal growth and self-improvement. This can lead to feelings of stagnation and a sense of powerlessness to effect positive change in the relationship.

Furthermore, being on the receiving end of constant blame can damage a person’s self-esteem. Over time, this can create feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and a diminished sense of self-worth. Such emotional distress can lead to anxiety, depression, and a reduced overall quality of life for both partners.

Detrimental Impact on Trust

Trust is the bedrock of any successful marriage. Blaming your partner and avoiding responsibility can severely compromise trust within the relationship. When someone evades responsibility, they say, “I cannot be trusted to take ownership of my actions or their consequences.” This breach of trust can lead to a growing sense of betrayal and decreased emotional intimacy between partners.

Breaking the Cycle

To cultivate a healthier and more resilient marriage, it is important to recognize the destructive pattern of blaming and avoiding responsibility and take proactive steps to break the cycle. This can be a challenging habit to break but here are some strategies to achieve this:

  1. Self-awareness: Acknowledge the tendency to shift blame and avoid responsibility. Understand that taking ownership of your actions signifies emotional maturity and a step toward personal growth.
  1. Active listening: Practice active listening  when conflicts arise. Try to understand your partner’s perspective, feelings, and needs. This will help foster empathy; they will feel heard and validated, opening the door to healthier communication.
  1. Self-reflection: Take some time to assess your behavior and contributions to conflicts. You accept responsibility for your actions and acknowledge that working on self-improvement is vital to maintaining a healthy marriage.
  1. Seek professional help: If the blame game is deeply ingrained in your marriage, consider contacting a Psychologist specializing in couples therapy. They can provide valuable guidance and strategies for breaking the cycle. I am available for Telehealth consultations; my information is at the bottom of this article.

A successful marriage requires self-awareness, open and empathetic communication, and the willingness to take responsibility for your own actions. These may be difficult steps to take at first, it can be hard to look at ourselves and admit our mistakes, but each time we do, we improve the connection we share with our partner. The less we blame, the more open we are to accepting our own faults and it becomes easier to make the changes needed to create a loving, harmonious life with the person you love the most.

To learn more about recognizing destructive patterns of blaming and avoiding responsibility, download our mini-course, “Why Couples Fight: A Psychologist’s Guide to Understanding Relationship Conflict.”

In this mini-course, we emphasize the importance of centering your mind and body, creating a state of mental and physical calm. We teach you the value of being mindful of your emotions and the importance of acting objectively rather than subjectively. Additionally, we explore concepts such as “dropping the bone,” mastering the art of taking the high road in an argument, and how to deflect sarcasm. While these skills are crucial to every relationship, they are often overlooked. Here, we guide you and help you develop these essential skills so that you can rely on them when stress and conflict inevitably arise.

Our entire course is also available on our website, as well as books, our blog, and other classes., follow the link and start your journey to a harmonious relationship. 

To schedule an appointment, please click here.