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Taking Responsibility Does Not Mean You’re Taking the Blame

Blame shifting is one of the biggest reasons couples have a hard time resolving their marital conflicts. We all do it at one time or another. But that doesn’t mean we should. Because the answer to the problem is never in finding who to blame. The answer, whatever the problem, is always found when someone takes responsibility.

Many times couples have come to us with marriage problems and with their own ideas of fixing the marriage by fixing their spouse. While neither husband or wife claim to have achieved perfection, they are set on believing their marriage problems are the other person’s fault. Each one will admit to the things they do wrong, but they weigh their own faults in a balance against their spouse’s faults and the balance always leans in their favor.


Husbands and wives fall into the same trap all other relationships fall into when there is conflict. We lose sight of what’s most important and we become fixated on who’s fault it is. Who did what to whom? Who started this?

“It’s her fault because she did such and such.” “It’s his fault because he should have done that.” Around and around we go. Where it stops, nobody knows.

Too often couples are caught up with being right fighters and pointing the blame towards each other. When they should accept the fact that it is not about who is wrong. It is about what is wrong.

Marriage is a gift and when everything is right, we get to receive the blessings of what marriage brings into our lives. But when there is a problem in the marriage we have to let go of what we want to receive and focus on what we can give. And taking our responsibility for what we can do to resolve a conflict is the best thing we can give.

Who takes responsibility?

I do. You do. Every single one of us does. Whatever the problem is in our marriage there is a place for us to own it. This does not mean we are to blame ourselves for everything that goes wrong, nor does it mean that we are responsible for our spouse’s bad behavior. But what it does mean is, there is always something we need to hold ourselves accountable for.

Admitting mistakes and owning up to our part of the problem is the single most powerful predictor of turning something bad into something good.” Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott.

We have to let go of blaming someone else and realize it’s the “Man in the mirror” that needs to be dealt with.

Jesus said it this way,

Matthew 7:3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

So, what do I own?

There are three major areas I want to point out on how we take ownership of the difficult marriage problems we face.

I own my own stuff

Here’s a news flash: I have issues. We all do. Every one of us has to deal our own selfish behavior. We may look at ourselves and make comparisons and decide we are not as bad as some other people. But that doesn’t change the fact we have our own issues that we have to deal with. 

That’s what Jesus was talking about in Matt. 7. We have to recognize we have certain things we do that is contributing to the problem our marriage is facing. Because “we all stumble in many ways,” we have to take ownership for how we contaminate our marriage.

I own what I allow

This is where it may get a little sticky for some. But we have to take personal ownership of how we allow someone else to treat us. Does that mean every time I’m treated badly it’s my fault? No. Of course not. Does it mean I invite my spouse to treat me badly? No.

But what it does mean is if we are habitually allowing the bad treatment, then that is our responsibility. We have to own what we allow. It’s like someone once said, “we teach people how they can treat us.” Each one of us has to own the boundaries we set and the boundaries we fail to set.

I own it all

Anything my marriage is facing, I’m facing. I own the responsibility to share the problem even when it is clearly my spouse’s issue. That does not mean I’m to take her responsibility and shoulder it by myself. It just simply means whatever the problem is, we are both in this together. And as I said previously, it is not about who is wrong, it’s about what is wrong.

When my wife wanted a divorce, I did not set back and point out how wrong she was. We had a marriage problem. A huge marriage problem and this is one of the things we did to overcome it. We each owned our responsibility for what we were doing wrong. We each owned our part for how we allowed the other to treat us. And we both owned our part for what we needed to do to rebuild it.

This taking responsibility can be learned by making a single statement to yourself. Just say, “I have response-ability. I have the ability to give the right response.” Then, repeat these words as often as needed.


~ My prayer is that you will walk in the grace of the Lord. ~


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Image courtesy of marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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