Aug 6, 2019
Brian Mayer talks about the concept of fault when it comes to
divorce. As human beings we often want to assign blame for
the failure of our marriage. Sometimes we blame our spouse
and sometimes we blame ourselves. This might not be the most
productive use of your time and it also might not even be the right
question. We will explore this today. We hope you enjoy
today’s message. For more information and additional
resources please visit our website at http://www.theremarriedlife.com
- Unfortunately, our culture has taught us to become very quick
to blame someone when it doesn’t go our way. More often that
not, we are taught to blame someone else.
For example, if I run out of gas I might think to blame my
wife for not telling me the tank was low when she drove the car
last night. Or maybe since my boss was so hard on me
yesterday, that he caused me to not be able to concentrate on
anything but the mistake I made at work.
- Sometimes this blame is so prevalent that it just comes
very quickly and almost automatically.
- We think about how sue happy our society has
become as well. There has been lots of work done to
reduce frivolous lawsuits but they still happen with great
regularity. I am sure you can think of lawsuit that you heard
of that is in that category. Many people felt that person
that sued McDonalds back in the 1980’s over hot coffee was just
such an act.
- So all this being said, when we go through a painful divorce we
are often looking for who to blame. Blame can often
make us feel better to a degree because it is like our brain is
then able to wrap around why something happened. A
divorce and dissolved relationship is already confusing and
complicated enough but if our brain can make sense of who did what
and who is accountable then it can sometimes bring relief to
anxiety and uncertainty.
- But is someone really to blame solely for a
divorce? Unless, we are talking some sort of abuse
then the answer is generally “No.” Even in cases of affairs
and infidelity, we could ultimately trace back the issue to a
disconnection in the emotional bond between you two.
- Additionally it isn’t the right question to ask because
the two of you are involved in a system of dancing in which
you both play a part. You act and react based on
things you see in the system and the thoughts and feelings that are
generated from that. It is much more complicating than
looking at the actions on the surface.
- I like what Sue Johnson, the creator of something called
Emotionally Focused Therapy says about this dance. She says
that we as a couple get caught in one, two, or three types
of “Demon Dialogues.” These are patterns of
behaviors that develop and take root due to actions, thoughts and
feelings. Here are the dances of dialogues that she says are
- Find The Bad Guy: This dance involves
two people pursuing and pushing to determine who the worst person
in the interaction is. This often will result in the kitchen
sink coming out against one or both. The fight will generally
continue to escalate because neither wants to back down.
- The Protest Polka: The dance involves a
pursuer and withdrawer. One pushes and escalates as the other
retreats and withdraws. As each person goes further into
their pattern, the more it pushes the other’s buttons
- Who This involves two people who have
withdraw and simply do not communicate. One person in the
interaction may have been a pursuer who pushed but not
- The longer these patterns and dialogues exist in a relationship
the higher the chance of relationship demise.
- According to Johnson’s work, neither person in the interaction
is the bad guy, but it is the interaction they get entangled with
that is the bad guy. Once couples start to realize this the
more they can work together to interrupt these cycles.
- So what are the things that you should look out for in
- Your actions
- Your Partners Actions
- Your thoughts (and your partner’s thoughts) or
“what you made up about this situation”
- Your triggers (and your partner’s triggers)
(past events that may have escalated the issue – this can include
past relationships, your childhood, and/or things that have built
up over time in your current relationship
- Your primary emotions (and your partner’s primary
emotions) (there are 6 that most accept – Anger, Disgust,
Fear, Happiness, Sadness, Surprise)
- Your more vulnerable emotions and your partner’s more
vulnerable emotions (the softer feelings underneath the
primary emotions like loneliness or unworthiness for example)
- Your and your partner’s unmet attachment
- So what does all of this means. It means the idea
of who is to blame is rather complicated because of
everything that goes into a decision or action that is made.
Rather often times our actions make complete sense when we line
them up against our thoughts, emotions, triggers, and unmet
So the key here is to be more aware of all that is going
on especially in our own brains so that we can interrupt
decisions that might detrimental to the dance we are engaged in
with our partner.