I am traveling for both business and a bucket list trip to Israel over the next few weeks. Instead of stressing out trying to write answers to three questions before I go, I thought I'd try something new.
In some of my private webinar teaching, I've done a Q & A at the end. I've chosen a few questions that I thought might be helpful to answer where you could either read the transcript or watch the video of my answer.
Some of the most powerful feedback I've gotten on my blog is when people say it's so helpful to give examples of the ways you might say something. In each video and transcript, you'll hear me give you many examples of ways you can say things around the problem asked.
Let me know if you like this format. If so, I will incorporate more vlogging in future blog posts.
Question: Do you have any tips for finding clarity and standing your ground when your husband blame-shifts during a conversation?
Answer: When your husband blame-shifts, you have two options. If this is his pattern it's probably not going to change because it works for him. Why? Because you go into defending, arguing, explaining, or justifying. We call it “JADE” in Conquer. (It's a term you can find on the internet too.)
So, when someone blames you, then you defend or justify yourself or you argue with them or you explain yourself and then they blame you some more and it becomes this crazy dance of him blaming, you arguing, him blaming, you explaining, him blaming, you justifying… it goes nowhere!.
A better approach would be either end the conversation and just say, “Well, I guess we're going to have to agree to disagree.” You're not going to get anywhere by justifying, arguing, defending, and explaining because you're not really having a conversation. It's a dance. So end the conversation.
The other approach would be to ask a curious question. You might say, “Explain to me exactly how I'm to blame for that. I don't understand.” So you're not going to explain or defend. Here’s an example of how that kind of conversation might go:
“So you lost your temper and you're saying it's my fault because I didn't have dinner on time. Is that right? How is that causing you to lose your temper?”
“Well, I was hungry and you know how hungry I get and so it's your fault because you know I was supposed to have dinner at five o'clock.”
“So, how did I make you curse? How did I make you break those dishes? I understand that you were upset, but how you handled your upsetness… how was that my fault?”
“It's your fault because you should've had dinner on time.”
“Well, okay, but I'm not perfect and I'm not always going to have dinner on time. I'm sure you're going to get upset at other things I do that you don't like. How am I responsible for you smashing all those dishes or you breaking holes in the wall…how did I force your hands to do that?”
So, you could begin to ask some curious questions to see if that would cause him to possibly self-reflect:
“Well, you didn't make me do that, but you upset me.”
“Well, yeah. I'm sure I did upset you because I wasn't willing to have sex with you because I couldn't make dinner on time or because I didn't pick up all the clothes or…” whatever it might be that he’s mad about.
It’s all about a lie he believes: “If only you make my life perfect, I won't be upset with you.” Well, you can't make his life perfect. Nobody can. When we take that upon ourselves, that, “I have to make his life perfect, so he doesn't get upset with me,” you're playing a dangerous game because there is no way you're ever going to make his life perfect enough. He's always going to find some reason and excuse to blame you and be upset.
If he's dangerous, you need to get out of there. If he's just whiny, then you have to either turn that off and say, “I'm not taking any responsibility for how you handle yourself,” or, “I'll take some responsibility for not having dinner and disappointing you, but I won't take any responsibility for how you handle your disappointment. That's all yours.”
That’s part of this CORE strength we talk about. It’s knowing what side of the street is mine. My side of the street is I can be empathetic that: “Yeah I disappointed you. But I'm not going to enable you to blame me for your behavior.”
For example, a little kid says, “Well, she took my toy, that's why I hit her over the head with the pan.” As a mom we would say, “You can't handle yourself that way when you get mad at your sister.” Right?
Or, a reckless driver says, “The reason I smashed into the car in front of me is because he was driving too slow and I just wanted to make sure he sped up.” It's crazy, but somehow we think, “It's my job to make sure he doesn't get upset.” No, it's not.
I'm not saying to provoke your husband on purpose. What I'm saying is you will provoke him. How many of your husbands provoke you? How many of your kids provoke you? People provoke us all the time, right? People upset us. But how we handle ourselves is our responsibility.
Your husband is not a child.
So again, don't JADE, and maybe ask a curious question and see if that goes anywhere. If it doesn't then just say, “Well I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. I don't take responsibility for that, I can't control your hands, I can't control your mouth, I can't control how you behave.”
Here’s another illustration. You can actually make this at home. Take a clear, plastic bottle and put a little dirt in the bottom, and then pour water inside. Let it settle so you don’t see the dirt.
Now, picture everything is going along fine and then something happens to upset your husband. To illustrate, shake the bottle. Obviously, the water will get dirty. Now, did you make the water dirty? No. The dirt was already in there. You simply shook it. You exposed the dirt that was already there.
Jesus says, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45) If I get upset and dirt comes out of my mouth, it exposes what was already there all along. Nobody made me have that dirt. It was there, it's just now coming out, and I'm blaming you for it coming out.
Sometimes it’s good for us to see what’s inside. Just like you when you're reactive, it's good for you to see, “Wow, I've got a lot going on in here, I need to pay attention and help myself calm down, help myself with this dirt inside because I don't want it there.” And when your husband blames you for his own “dirt,” that's not truthful.
Friend, what do you do when someone is intent on holding you responsible for how they behave, feel, or think?