Why do so many divorcing and divorced women and men get stalled in the personal growth department by blaming the failure of their marriage entirely or mostly on their ex? When it comes to relationship failure, blaming the other is all too common. In the moment it can make us feel better or justified or even ‘off the hook’ for our own mistakes, but in the long run, playing the blame game interferes with our ability to have deep and more satisfying relationships and to grow.
Here are 5 reasons why we love to blame the ex and why it may not be so helpful after all!
1. It Makes Us Feel Better
If it’s his/her fault and not ours, we are saved a lot of guilt, worry, feelings of failure, and grief. We are essentially ‘off-the-hook’ as we had absolutely nothing to do with this….right?
2. It Is Reassuring To Have An Answer To The ‘WHY’ Question
Living with the unknown regarding the ‘why’ of why a marriage failed is very uncomfortable and can even provoke anxiety and distress in some. Not knowing can mean hours, months, and years of thinking, reflecting, and trying to face up to what we may have done to contribute to or cause such a life changing event. Sometimes having an answer, even the wrong one, is preferable to not knowing.
3. If We Are Victims We Are Powerless, Right?
When we blame others, our focus is outward— outside of ourselves. This relieves us of having to take responsibility for our own actions and mistakes or for learning to do things differently next time. (Beware, though, as this puts all the power in someone else’s hands…we become victims of the mean rotten person who spoiled things for us rather than independent, free-thinking adults who are responsible for our own destinies and can choose build a better life).
4. Staying Angry and Continuing To Blame is a Way to Stay Connected
One way to avoid the uncertainty of life ahead is to stay stuck in the life that was. Staying in the blame mode keeps us connected to the ex—we are still focused on them, thinking about them, and maybe even talking with them, in our minds. It is a way to stay in the relationship. This also means we are spending precious mental energy on our ex, rather than using that energy for other means, i.e.-looking ahead, creating choices for ourselves and planning the future. This can keep us from moving forward and from facing living life on our own.
5. It Can Give Us A Sense of Security During An Uncertain Time
If he/she is the reason our marriage ended, then I must be ok. End of story, right? Life feels less unsettling and more secure if we are not the problem and we don’t have to consider doing things differently. Unfortunately, this position will cause us to miss out on discovering the information available to us on how to have a more satisfying and enduring relationship next time.
While blaming your ex is natural and common when it comes to divorce, using blame to hide behind or to keep from growing, however, is not helpful. It can interfere with moving forward and creating a better life for yourself and your family. Better to face the ending of your marriage or relationship with an open willingness to explore the ‘what’, ‘how’, and ‘why’ of what did not work and put yourself in the driver’s seat to have more successful relationships in the future.