Stop the Marriage Blame Game

    “I was blameless before Him,
    and I kept myself from my guilt.
    So the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
    according to the cleanness of my hands in His sight.”
    Psalm 18:23–24

    My husband and I are giant fans of the show The Amazing Race. We have watched this show almost our entire married lives. It’s different from other reality TV shows, showing a fun glimpse into cultures and lands so different from our own. We have noticed one thing that sets contestants above others, and it’s not just a vague idea like “good communication.” It’s something much more specific—blame.

    Couples who blame each other struggle the whole way and rarely make it to the million-dollar mat. Couples who support each other and build each other up, even when something has gone terribly wrong, are more likely to get to the cool million, and if they don’t, they still seem to be enjoying the race and the challenge a whole lot more.

    This idea didn’t stick out to me watching just one season of The Amazing Race, and so maybe that’s why we miss its significance in our own lives and marriages. It is easily missed in the day-to-day. But after watching season after season of contestants in high-stress situations, I started to piece the puzzle together. And then I looked around and began to piece the same puzzle together in my own marriage, and in the marriages of those I counsel.

    Blame is huge.

    It’s just so easy.

    “You missed the turn. Now we’re going to be late.”

    “If you would have put him in time-out right away, we wouldn’t be dealing with this over and over.”

    “You never plan a night out. It’s always me.”

    “If you would just do such and such, our lives wouldn’t be so chaotic.”

    And on it goes. Do you hear yourself, even a tiny bit, in it? I know I do. It is our culture’s way of communicating. When the norm around us is to blame anything gone wrong on someone and something, our Old Adam will simply follow suit. So you’ll be fighting against the flow to make a change. But it’s worth it! And with Jesus in us, we can do anything.

    It’s helpful to remember the following to change our habit of blame.

    1. Place blame where blame is due—on Satan. I’m serious. First of all, most problems and struggles and frustrations in our day-to-day lives are very much related to things out of our control. They are related to life in a world where sin is simply our reality, and it brings unwanted and unasked for heartache, disease, or darkness. So unite your marriage toward blaming the foe. Bring it before God and ask Him to fight the battle. He tells us He’s won it; He tells us He is in us, fighting every day. When you want to blame, pray together. Take a moment and open the Word, or choose a Scripture passage together to share aloud when blame comes knocking on your door. Call it like it is: “Devil, you are not invited to this party.”
    2. When you look at your partner, remind yourself that he or she is a redeemed child of God. Psalm 18 (above) tells us that we are blameless, that we are free from guilt, that our hands are clean. This is because we have Jesus. We can offer love and forgiveness and real, palpable grace to our spouse by seeing him or her as God does in Jesus—blameless. When you feel the frustration rise in an argument, look at your spouse and picture “Blameless” or “Spotless” written across his or her forehead. Proclaim it aloud if you need to, but let it help you focus on who your spouse is, not on what problem you are tackling.
    3. Confess to each other. The message of the God of second chances is never more valuable than in your marriage. Speak truth when you mess up, knowing that it’s already forgiven. Forgive before someone even asks. Like the father in the story of the prodigal son, God ran to us on the road well before we were cleaned up and shipshape. Run to your spouse and be that refuge of warm robes of forgiveness.

    We’re on this amazing race of life together. Let’s support one another, build one another up, and share the blameless life with a whole lot of grace.

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