Marriage

Kicking the Habit of Playing the Blame Game

towels
Image by Rick Payette via Flickr

The other night, as I was getting ready for sleep, I walked into our room, where the bed was still unmade from the morning.  Then I saw it.  A damp bathtowl was resting exactly where I wanted to rest.  Said towel was cold from the moisture and had made the sheets slightly clammy.  It was a little unpleasant, and I decided to say something about it.  Nicely, of course.  I walked into the room where my husband was sitting, blissfully unaware of the towel incident.

“You know what’s awesome?  Leaving a wet towel on the bed, right where I want to sleep.”

He looked at me blankly.

Then it dawned on me.

The towel was from MY shower earlier that day.  I was the one who had left it on the bed.

Oops.

I have a bad habit of blaming my husband for various little things around the house.  There’s usually a basis to this (he does tend to forget to return the water pitcher to the fridge, after all), but here’s the problem – sometimes I’m wrong.  Sometimes I’m the culprit.

This was a tangible lesson on judging favorably, since it really could be me who did whatever moderately infuriating thing I’m accusing him of.

Thankfully, my husband takes these incidents in stride.  We both cracked up at the absurdity of my self-righteous accusation.  And I gave him a bracha, which is what you’re supposed to do when you accuse someone falsely, which we learn from the story of Chana and Shmuel HaNavi  (much thanks to Sarah and Gila for the source!).  I’m glad he can laugh about these things, but really, it’s not very nice of me.

Additionally, wouldn’t it be more effective if I thanked him when he put something away instead of lightly chastising him for not doing so?  I mean, it’s not like I’m exactly a paragon of neatness & putting-away-ness.  Hardly.  I’m not going to win any medals for my housekeeping abilities any time soon.  But it’s just SO EASY for me to nitpick on these little things.  Just like it’s SO EASY to have another piece of cake, or SO EASY to waste 45 minutes online, if it’s a habit to do so.

Habit is a powerful, if sometimes aggravating, force.  When we’ve created a habit, for good or for less good, it’s easier to stick to the habit than it is to deviate from it.  However, I think the towel accusation is a clear example of a place where it is worthwhile for me to deviate.  There are things that matter in a relationship, that should be addressed, and there are things that are better left unsaid.

So next time I find myself muttering under my breath about something which is out of place (or whatever’s bugging me), I will try to remember the following:

  1. It might not be his doing.
  2. Even if it is, is it worth saying something?
  3. Is saying something going to contribute positively to my relationship?
  4. Does it really matter if the water pitcher is left out on the counter?
  5. Is this a hypocritical nitpick?

Will I always succeed at catching myself before accusing him of something?  Probably not.  Will I keep trying to improve this aspect of our relationship?  I sure hope so.

What are your strategies for kicking a bad habit? 

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10 thoughts on “Kicking the Habit of Playing the Blame Game

  1. Thanks! It’s funny how seemingly insignificant things can loom so large. I guess it’s a sign that my “real” problems are minor enough that I can be bothered by trivialities.

  2. I do the same thing–launch blame attacks at my husband–when they aren’t warranted. Usually it comes from me not feeling appreciated as the one who does all the housework, etc. Even though I’m not working his crazy shifts in the E.R. I still want to feel like I’m appreciated by him for the work I do around the house. Domestic-goddessness is not my trademark self.
    Your tips are good reminders of how to avoid needless blaming. Thanks Rivki!

    1. Oh, do I know how you feel. I am constantly reminding myself that his crazy hours are the reason I get to stay home with my kids, and that having to do all the housework is more than a fair trade-off. I think it’s a balance of appreciating what we have and figuring out what we need.

  3. Impressed with your honesty!

    Some things really are best left unsaid, but on the other hand, you don’t want the annoyed feelings to build up until you explode over a “small” thing. It can be a tough line to toe. Personally, I more naturally keep things inside and have to work on saying what I want. Nicely, of course. :)

    1. Excellent point. Letting things build up until they explode is definitely a bad idea. It can be a tough line to toe, and requires a fair amount of being honest with ourselves, not always a simple feat.

  4. This is a great post. I’ve had those situations too, where I debate whether to say something about an issue that is usually very trivial. Like the comment above, I sometimes wonder if things are best left unsaid.

    1. I was remarking to my husband that we should be grateful that these trivialities are our biggest problems. For me, deciding when to say something is, ideally, a matter of being able to understand where my emotions are coming from, and what deeper thing the triviality is linked to. Because, really, all trivialities seems to signify something bigger. It’s a tricky thing to work on, honestly.

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