People who don’t want to take responsibility for themselves blame other people for their feelings, thoughts, choices, actions, and inactions. Blame originated in the Garden of Eden in response to sin. Neither Adam nor Eve wanted to take responsibility for what they did; instead, they blamed each other, the serpent, and God.

Here are some messages people give that blame you for their choices:

  • It is your fault I am not happy.
  • It is your fault I made that decision.
  • It is your fault I reacted that way.
  • You didn’t give me any choice.
  • Whatever happens is going to be your fault, if you don’t do what I want.
  • If you were a good Christian, I could believe.
  • You don’t love me, and that is why you will not give me what I want.
  • If only you would submit to me or love me like Christ loves the Church, our marriage would be fine.

The truth about blame in our relationships is that it affects us. Blamers often exploit our weaknesses and know how to get us to doubt ourselves and take responsibility for them. We especially take it on when we are the one in the relationship that is trying to hold everything together and fix the problems. Blame can be so chronic and hostile that it crosses over into abuse.

Blame is also very manipulative. I remember my teenage daughter telling me for the first time that she wouldn’t ever have children because I was such a bad mom. It really bothered me because I valued being a good mom. I questioned myself and was ready to give in, until I realized that the context was that she wanted her way and I was telling her no. Her blaming was intended to get me to say yes. Blame usually has an agenda. It is intended to get you to do something: feel bad, give in, go away, feel responsible, or let the other person continue to do the same thing without you holding them accountable.

My husband blamed me for years for all our marriage problems because he did not want to look at himself or deal with what I was bringing up. In response, I questioned myself and felt responsible for his reactions and actions along with mine, but believed that it was his fault that I acted the way I did. We were blaming each other and getting nowhere.

Blame is toxic to relationships because it isn’t healthy behavior. It prevents the issue from being dealt with in an honest way and people from being responsible for their own actions and feelings. It is essential you learn to be responsible for your choices and then to detach from blame and let others be responsible for theirs—even when they are pressuring you to accept the blame.

By Karla Downing