Do you remember the old “Staples” commercial that touted the “easy button”?Oh, if only it could be that easy when we blow it in life and marriage!
- Lose your temper with your spouse? Hit the easy button and all is forgiven!
- Lie to your husband about all the new outfits you recently bought? Hit the easy button and the bills just disappear!
- Get caught by your wife sending a flirtatious text to a coworker? Hit the easy button and no one is the wiser!
This is exactly why we try to blame-shift in marriage. We foolishly think that blaming our spouse or other factors in life will shift our problems and responsibilities away from us and out of sight!
Trouble is, there’s no easy button in real life, especially when it comes to taking responsibility in marriage.
That’s because there is no easy way around self-evaluation, confession, and repentance.
4 Battle Strategies that Help You Avoid Blame-Shifting in Marriage
1. Avoid giving in to your fear and confess your sins to God.
He [Adam] answered [God], “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he [God] said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” Genesis 3:10-11
Feeling afraid and exposed are natural consequences of the sins we commit. We feel afraid for a variety of reasons, but mostly because we feel shame and guilt over our sins.
Though it is not expressed in this passage, I’m sure that the serpent (also known as the Accuser) was whispering accusations in the ears of these two—stirring up their fears.
Is he doing that with you? Remember Romans 8:1-2
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
Ironically, Satan tempts you to push the easy button while he much prefers to push your panic button!
He tells you that coming clean is much too hard and demoralizing. If you take that bait, you pick up where he left off, questioning whether it’s even productive to come clean with God or your spouse.
That’s when you’ll fall for the lie that running away from God is better than seeking the safety and cleansing of His embrace.
For how to confess and apologize, see number 4 below.
2. Resist the urge to blame your spouse.
The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Genesis 3:12
When fear and shame enter the picture, it’s so EASY to feel like the Easy way out of our pain and shame is to blame.
But when we blame our spouses, two things happen …
- First, it disrespects, disparages, and rejects them. Ouch!
- Second, we don’t take the open door that frees us from our guilt and shame. Double ouch!
That open door is confession and repentance—aka taking responsibility.
I’ve learned to appreciate the freedom and connection that taking responsibility for my sin brings. But it’s still very hard and awkward for me while I’m walking through that “door.” I just try to remember that it only takes a minute to pass through!
So, the next time the door is open for you, envision the freedom and connection found on the other side. It might feel momentarily painful to walk over that threshold but the pain will quickly melt in sweet relief on the other side! Go for it!
3. Resist playing the “blame game.”
The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”Genesis 3:12-13
Do you see it? Adam tossed the blame ball over to Eve and she spiked it back to the serpent. #blamegame
When we get into arguments or tension-filled moments, it’s so tempting to let what our spouses say or do determine our next move. But this is a “reaction” and not a response.
- When you respond, you act responsibly.
- However, when you react, you act co-dependently and recklessly.
Reactions cause damage, while humble and respectful responses defuse the conflict and heal the divide.
One great way to respond in times of conflict or sin is to apologize (keep reading for how to apologize). Another healthy way to respond is to listen to your spouse’s feelings, validating them whether you agree with them or not.
4. Give a humble and thorough apology.
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:13
Granted, Eve did admit to being deceived. However, this admission only justified her actions and avoided taking responsibility for them.
Justifying is just a fancy word for making an excuse when there is no excuse.
Think back to the last time your spouse confronted you about a sin that you committed. Did you blame shift? Did you come up with a flimsy excuse to try and justify your actions?
I challenge you to humbly apologize to your spouse no matter how much time has elapsed.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Messy Marriage