There is one habit that will damage your relationship. Do you know it? Let me tell you my story:
It was a sunny day in April, eight years ago. I was about to go to our hotel with my colleagues. We have worked all day at the fair, talking to the many visitors at our booth and explaining them our products. I felt drained and was happy to feel the sun on my face and to leave the noise of the exhibition hall behind me.
My phone was ringing. It was my partner. I hadn’t seen him before I left because he had gone for the weekend. Excited to hear from him, I picked up the phone. “You left a rotten mango in the kitchen,” He yelled at me. I felt irritated. It wasn’t the warm welcome I had expected. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. I had left the mango in the kitchen because I had thought he might have liked it. I hadn’t noticed that it was rotten. I took a deep breath and said, I am not sure what happened. It seemed ok when I left. It didn’t stop him. He continued yelling. “And you didn’t clean up the apartment. It’s full of cat’s hair.” His voice was full of contempt. He was right. I had to leave on Sunday morning and didn’t have the time to clean it. I didn’t know what to say, but I felt angry and exhausted. I had tried to do my best to leave the apartment in order before I left. I had a sense that this wouldn’t matter to him what I said. I just stayed silent. He continued yelling. Both of my colleagues looked at me astonished. I felt humiliated and angry. How long will he continue to blame me for everything? I asked myself silently. This game was now going on since a couple of years. It had left me feeling powerless. Three months ago, I had asked him to go to couple’s therapy and he had refused it vehemently. After a while, I just said, I talk to you later. We have to catch the bus now. After I hang up, my colleague asked me, “Does he always talk to you like this? I didn’t know what to say. I felt hopeless and helpless.
That night in the hotel room, I was cried myself to sleep. I couldn’t take the blame anymore. I had taken it long enough. That night, I decided to leave him despite the pain and heartbreak the separation would cause.
One major learning in this relationship was that blame is toxic for a relationship and constant blame damages a relationship. When he blamed me, I felt disconnected from him and I only understood everything I did wrong but I never got a sense what I could do better. My partner never directly communicated his emotions although I could sense his anger and resentment. When I left him, I had a strong sense that I just messed up his life. After our break-up, I started to look for healthy ways to communicate.
Nowadays, I have a no-blame policy for my relationships. And this is mutual. I don’t blame others, but I take care of my emotions and communicate them assertively. I am also curious about what they want me to tell. What are my unmet needs and desires that are hidden in these emotions? This helps me to communicate properly and keep my boundaries intact. If somebody blames me, I ask them to stop, give them empathy and inquire about their feelings and what they really want. This helps me to understand them better. It also gives me a choice – I can decide whether I can give them what they want. In the end, I don’t want to mess up other people’s lives but create something with them that makes their life more beautiful. For me, that’s what relationships are all about.
What is your experience with blame?
Copyright © 2017, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.