There has been a run on blame-sharing recently. Keep an eye out for it. Blame-sharing is the viral mutation of blame-shifting, and it is deadly. Honest, it is deadly.
Blame-shifting is when we accuse someone else for what we have done wrong. It was popular in the 1970’s, and I personally stuck with it long enough to bring it into my early-1980’s marriage, which is still my marriage. For the first five years my wife, I am sure, must have been scratching her head at how I had become more perfect and she had become more sinful. Somehow, she was responsible for all our marital difficulties. By the late 1980’s I finally caught up with cultural trends and saw how sinful and out-of-date (see my last blog on “Boring”) I had become. So, I don’t blame-shift anymore because of a combination of sanctification mixed with my fear of becoming a cliché. Now, only the most Neanderthal among us indulges in such sin.
We have become more sophisticated.
“I know I am a sinner. Now she has to accept responsibility for her own sin.” “I don’t mind owning what is mine, but she is not confessing her part in this.”
There are different versions of blame-sharing. In its most common form, men want their spouses to acknowledge at least half of all the sins in the house. It is basic math: sin, divided by two sinners = .5 for him and .5 for her. Sounds symmetrical and, maybe, okay, at least on the surface. But there is usually much more to blame-sharing. For example, when the man’s sin is especially prominent, the wife still must accept at least half the blame, and she should acknowledge her sin first (because her sins are the worse half). Husbands who confess first usually do it out of self-righteousness – just watch to see if they get angry when their spouse either doesn’t acknowledge enough sin or doesn’t praise the husband enough for his massive humility. (Do I sound like I am getting ticked off?) If the wife’s sin is especially prominent she must accept all the blame.
Yes, blame-sharing is a tragedy.
I have observed blame-sharing often over the last year – once you begin to see it, you see it everywhere. No doubt, women can have their own version of it, so if you are a woman and have snuck a peek at this blog I don’t want to stop you from considering yourself and your own gender on these things, but I am seeing it a lot in men. The scary part is that I have yet to see any of these men change. Every time I have seen blame-sharing, at least up to this week, I have yet to see a man even acknowledge the wrongness of it let alone repent of it. So, in order to learn how to help other men, I have spoken to some other counselor-types about this, and I am finding something even more frightening: though I have spoken to counselors who initially say that they have seen men turn away from blame-sharing, when I asked them to get more specific they couldn’t cite anyone who had actually changed. I hope they simply forgot some of the success stories. Given more time to consider my question, I like to think they could have remembered some. But the conversations were enough to leave me a little more scared of sin. The Spirit can change us, of that we are sure. But spiritual blindness can still afflict anyone at anytime.
We can provoke one-another to sin, and such provocation itself is sinful. In most marital conflicts both people sin, but men must commit to at least two basic spiritual principles. First, my sin is my sin, no one else can make me sin. Second, according to Matthew 7:3-5 (…the speck and the plank), I must despise certain forms of symmetry. When it comes to sin, I want to see my sin as worse than the other person’s. Any other approach will, guaranteed, trash the marital relationship.
Yes, I will ask to see if my wife ever sees this in me, and if she sees it I will persuade her to accept only 49.6% of the blame, being the good husband that I am, because after all she has . . . .