April, 2015

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The Blame Game (Part One)

I couldn’t find my phone when rushing out the door the other day and I immediately blamed my kids for losing it. It turns out it was in my purse all along. Not only was blaming the kids for my mistake unfair, it momentarily kept me from solving the problem and finding my phone. When something bad happens, most of us first focus on who is to blame.

Often in divorce, clients are willing to spare no expense to prove their ex is to blame. But the truth in almost all cases is both parties have contributed to the breakdown of the marriage. The focus on blame in the divorce process seems inevitable, but it’s damaging to our clients. Blame focuses clients on the past, fixates them on toxic emotions and keeps them emotionally connected to one another. It’s not constructive in building a good and healthy future.

Researcher Brene Brown explains that we blame as a way to release our pain and give ourselves some semblance of control over the situation. Divorce brings chaos to clients’ lives so it’s understandable they may blame in order to feel in control. To help them move past blame, it’s crucial for clients to know their pain is justified, even though it’s unlikely they will ever receive an apology. Their pain is real. Period.

Why is it so important for clients to move past blaming? Brown explains that the more we blame others, the less accountable we are for our own part of the problem.  Clients can only move past their divorce and have healthy, fulfilling relationships in the future once they understand the part they have played in the conflict.  That doesn’t mean they aren’t justified in their blame; it’s possible for clients to embrace their own story and be accountable for the conflict too. Not every story has one winner and one loser.

So the question remains: exactly how do we get clients to stop blaming so they can move on with their lives?  Stay tuned for next month’s blog to find out.

Erin Kassebaum provides mediation, coaching and parenting consulting services on a sliding fee scale.  She is located in Bloomington.  Please feel free to contact Erin with any comments or questions at 612.599.8366 or erin@resolutiondivorceservices.com. “Like” her on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/erinkassebaumrds.