Love And Life Toolbox
Deconstructing Bickering in Relationships

Couples Conflict: Stop Blaming Your Partner and Own Your Role

“If she didn’t act like such a brat I wouldn’t blow up!”

I hear this kind of statement in my couples counseling practice a lot – and I understand how easy it is for people to slip into blaming their partner rather than looking at their role.  It’s so much easier, isn’t it?  Yes but it’s not productive.  Though it may be true that your partner’s behavior isn’t very loving, it’s still your responsibility to manage your reactivity and keep your cool.  I’ve seen so many couples damage each other with excessive anger; the consequences of allowing the fight-or-flight response to take over.

If you’re accustomed to unraveling in this way, one thing you can do is a self-imposed time-out.  This is how it might look:

“I really need to take a time-out to cool off or I’m worried we’re going to do more damage to our relationship.  I’m taking a walk for a half hour and will be back at 3P.”

In high conflict situations, this is actually a protective and loving act.  The idea is that you don’t want to add to any pile of resentment that might have been forming.  If your relationship is less intense in this area and time-outs aren’t really needed – but you and your partner get into the blame game, try turning that upside down by shining the light onto yourself and your role in the argument.  What could you have done better?  Could you have used a nicer tone?  Could you have chosen less attacking language?  Are you venting about something that has nothing to do with the current scenario?

Conflict and arguments cannot exist without two people and the same goes for reconciliation for couples committed to staying as healthy, loving and connected as possible.  Demonstrate your respect and love for your relationship by being willing to examine yourself instead of leaping to blame your partner.

If you both get on board for less blame and more ownership, successful resolution is totally doable.

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT is the creator of with emotional and relationship health articles, guides, courses and other tools for individuals and couples. She is a frequent consultant for the media having appeared in,, and others. Lisa has a private practice in Marin County, CA and offers Emotional Health and Relationship Consultations via email, phone or video conference.

Add comment