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Blame and the Non-Working Relationship

Whenever I am inspired to write about something that is related to politics, I do so with trepidation, because I don’t want to think I’m some sort of expert on the subject. I follow along, and am engaged in that way, but I’m not here to convince someone to take sides on a political topic. However, today’s inspiration comes from what seems to be a looming government shutdown, and what the leadup can teach us about relationships. I am not going to be writing about any consequences of a shutdown, etc. We all know that keeping things working is a good idea. And that includes our relationships! The government may or may not shut down as of midnight, on January 20th. It is likely that by the time this gets posted to my website, or you read it, the deadline will have already passed, making anything I say about the politics of a shutdown a waste of our time. Instead, I was inspired to write this piece after hearing all the rhetoric and needling that is going into the encouragement of voting against the shutdown. The GOP is attempting to blame the Democrats for an impasse that leads to the shutdown. It is pre-emptive, in that it is happening now, before any agreement gets made. The news program I was tuned into this morning had a Democrat from Congress talking about the fallacy of this blame, and how the blame really should be doled out equally amongst those in the party with complete control over the government. So, in reality, what happens when the Democrats get blamed and they do not think that is fair to do, is that they blame back and then might be to obstruct even more. And herein lies the relationship lesson that I’ve been learning over the years of Emotionally-Focused Therapy (EFT) and working with couples. The Infinite Cycle “Find the Bad Guy” is a vicious cycle. I’ve wrote about it in an extensive way when I began blogging, and I can see the parallels as they exist in this current political climate. It is a most challenging cycle to extricate ourselves from. It is characterized by a topic (or relationship dynamic if it is more broad) a couple is in disagreement over (pick one) and in attempts to resolve it, both partners are seeing the other person at fault, with very little desire to self-reflect and say, “what am I doing that is furthering this infinity loop of a fight?” So when the president tweets that it’s the Dems to blame, like he did this morning (no political commentary I said!), he is taking a very risky stance, because when someone feels blamed without feeling a secure attachment to the blamer (and we know that Trump and the Dems don’t feel much secure attachment and trust with one another), he almost forces them to dig their heels in the sand instead of even attempting to negotiate. Could it be Different? It is so easy to blame someone else for something that goes wrong. But it is rarely effective. At least, it is rarely effective if we take no responsibility as well. The expectation in a two-way dynamic that one person is going to say “yes, I am 100% responsible for this fight we are both in” is a farce. Next time you feel the need to see the other person as at fault, try asking yourself first, “what did I do on my end to further this along?” Be honest, because the more accountable you hold yourself, the more likely the other person is to see that that process is okay, and the more likely they are to accept that which you are asking. And the less likely you are to experience a relationship shutdown.