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Posts tagged ‘blame-shifting’

I’m Wrong — BUT — What About Him (or Her)?

SOURCE:  Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 120.


Going the Wrong Way Down a One-Way Street

Because most of us do not like to admit that we have sinned, we tend to conceal, deny, or rationalize our wrongs.

If we cannot completely cover up what we have done, we try to minimize our wrongdoing by saying that we simply made a “mistake” or an “error in judgment.”

Another way to avoid responsibility for our sins is to shift the blame to others or to say that they made us act the way we did.

When our wrongs are too obvious to ignore, we practice what I call the 40/60 Rule. It goes something like this: “Well, I know I’m not perfect, and I admit I am partially to blame for this problem. I’d say that about 40% of the fault is mine. That means 60% of the fault is hers. Since she is 20% more to blame than I am, she should be the one to ask for forgiveness.” I never actually say or think these exact words, but I often catch myself resorting to this tactic in subtle ways. By believing that my sins have been more than canceled by another’s sins, I can divert attention from myself and avoid repentance and confession.

“It’s two-way street, you know … I did stuff, but he did stuff, too! Why aren’t we talking about HIS stuff?” These words, which were spoken in the midst of an actual conflict, reflect another variation of the 40/60 rule. We say it’s a two-way street, but the problem is that in reality we still treat it like a one-way street. “When the other person is willing to ‘drive’ to me, only then will I think about confessing my part of the conflict.”

But that’s not the way Jesus spells things out in Luke 6:41-42. There he gives his famous words on “getting the log out” of your own eye first, before you ever get around to removing the splinter from your brother’s or sister’s eye. And just a few verses earlier, Jesus tells us to love our enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. (Luke 6:35)

What about the confessions we make?

Do we withhold our confession until we have assurance that the other person will confess his or her part? Or are we willing to confess “expecting nothing in return”?

It is a two-way street, but the responsibility that God calls each of us to is all one-way.

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Forgive? NO! Blame? YES! Heal? NO!

SOURCE:  Living Free

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14 NLT

We all experience setbacks and disappointments in life.

Sometimes small ones that we shrug off, learn from and move on. But sometimes disappointments have more impact. They stay with us, causing the past to haunt our present—and future.

The setback could be anything—bankruptcy … a failed marriage … termination from a job … a friendship gone sour. Or it might be losing a parent at a young age. Or the death of a spouse or someone else we cared for deeply.

A natural tendency when we have suffered a severe disappointment is to place blame. Perhaps we hold another person responsible. Sometimes we blame ourselves. We might even get angry with God.

God has promised us a future and a hope, but unforgiveness can block our ability to experience all the freedom he has planned for us. As long as we are unwilling to forgive, the disappointment of the past has control over our lives, and we cannot move forward.

It’s time to forgive those who have hurt us. It’s time to forgive ourselves. It’s time to open our hearts to the love and forgiveness of our heavenly Father. And then it will be time to move on to the wonderful plans he has for us.

Father, help me to truly put the past behind and look forward to what lies ahead. Forgive my sin. Help me to walk in forgiveness—of others and of myself. In Jesus’ name ….


These thoughts were drawn from …


Free to Grow: Overcoming Setbacks and Disappointments by Jimmy Ray Lee, D.Min.

Q & A: Is My Spouse’s Verbal Abuse My Fault?

SOURCE: Adapted from an article by  Leslie Vernick

My husband says his verbal abuse is all my fault!

This week’s question is:  I read your blogs and books. My question is I’ve been married for 21 years. I’ve read and re-read your book on The Emotionally Destructive Relationship. My husband fits the example of the “should” husband you talk about. He is a believer and has recently admitted to me that he has been verbally abusive after I told him the definition. For a long time he denied it, but he feels that I haven’t been submissive, respectful and obedient to him and that in order for our relationship to ever move forward I have to admit this to him and to our children, ages 17,15 and 11. We have been to counseling jointly and separately.

I have seen how my desire to please him has led to lots of problems. It has excused his behavior and allowed it for far too long. He is saying he has admitted his problems and I need to admit and change myself and the children’s attitude and behaviors toward him in order for him to stay. He has already seen an attorney as have I. Please help…I’m so tired.

Answer:  You seem exhausted trying to be heard and understood. It sounds like your husband is still saying that all your marital problems are your fault. Of course he now admits to being verbally abusive toward you but it’s because you haven’t been respectful, submissive or obedient. So if you change, in his mind, all will be well.

From your question, it sounds like you have tried to please him and that your desire to gain his approval has actually led to more abuse. He’s saying he’s admitted his problem but what exactly has he admitted to? Losing his temper when you won’t do what he says you “should” and then blaming you for his ugly words? That doesn’t sound like the kind of change you’ll need to turn this around. Does he not have any responsibility to learn to handle his disappointment and anger toward you in a godly way?

You might want to ask him, “Do you believe you’re entitled to verbally abuse me when I fail you, upset you, or disappoint you? How do you think other men respond when their wives upset them? Do all of them become verbally abusive or do some of them handle their anger or disappointment in a more constructive way?”

I also want you to consider whether or not it’s true that you have been disrespectful toward your husband and/or contributed to the children’s poor attitudes toward their father. Confession of wrong doing is important in relationships and is a very important first step toward healing and reconciliation. You’ll have to pray about that and examine your heart and past behaviors to see if there are specific ways or times you have been disrespectful, even if in the context of being provoked.

There are some husbands who believe that if their wife doesn’t give them carte blanche authority or if she questions his judgment in a situation, she is being disrespectful, disobedient and/or unsubmissive. I don’t believe God’s words teaches that submission means that we don’t have a right to question or challenge our spouse or that we are called to live with our eyes closed and mouth shut especially when we observe our spouse driving the entire family straight off the cliff.

On the other hand, there are many things that we as wives comment on that our husband’s may find disrespectful even if we don’t see them that way. For example, my husband hates when I question why he chooses to drive to the shopping mall a different way that I would have gone. He sees that as “You don’t know how to drive as good as I do.” I don’t mean it that way; I just don’t understand why he wouldn’t choose our normal route. But he’s different than I am, and he has every right to think and choose differently than I would.

People are not blank walls that do not have any of their own thoughts, feelings, and personality. Yet some men seem to want their wife’s entire life to revolve around loving him, serving him, and doing whatever will make him happy. If she balks, or wants to do something of her own, he finds that unloving or disrespectful. Trying harder to be that kind of woman will only result in more abuse and selfishness on the part of your husband.

Going back to your question, you’ve both been to counselors and both been to attorneys. If you and your husband both want to make your marriage work, it begins by identifying what the root problem is. You can’t apply the right medicine to something if you don’t have the right diagnosis. I don’t think you’ve reached any consensus on this. Perhaps the best course at this time is to see a counselor (who understands the dynamics of verbal abuse), not for treatment per se, but to create a working definition of the problem so you can both decide whether or not you want to do the necessary repairs and changing to reconcile your relationship.

Please Break This Rule

SOURCE:  Taken from  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 120.

When our wrongs are too obvious to ignore, we practice what I call the 40/60 Rule.

It goes something like this:

“Well, I know I’m not perfect, and I admit I am partially to blame for this problem. I’d say that about 40 percent of the fault is mine. That means 60 percent of the fault is hers. Since she is 20 percent more to blame than I am, she should be the one to ask for forgiveness.”

I never actually say or think these exact words, but I often catch myself resorting to this tactic in subtle ways. By believing that my sins have been more than cancelled by another’s sins, I can divert attention from myself and avoid repentance and confession.

Food for Thought

Jesus tells the perfect “40/60 Rule” story in Luke 18:10-14.

In this passage, Luke says that Jesus addresses the story to those “who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else.”

This is the story:

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Next time you’re tempted to invoke the 40/60 Rule to minimize your part in a conflict, remember that few subjects raise more disdain in Jesus than moderated mercy or a “righteousness ranking” where we give ourselves an unequivocal first place vote.

I’m Sorry If, If, If…

SOURCE:  Taken from  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 127

If, If, If… 

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other…
Ephesians 4:32

The best way to ruin a confession is to use words that shift the blame to others or that appear to minimize or excuse your guilt.

The most common way to do this is to say, “I’m sorry if I’ve done something to upset you.” The word if ruins this confession, because it implies that you do not know whether or not you did wrong. The message you are communicating is this: “Obviously you’re upset about something. I don’t know that I have done anything wrong, but just to get you off my back I’ll give you a token apology.”

Food for Thought

How often does if show up in your confessions?

A great way to ruin your engine on your car? Never, ever change the oil.

A sure-fire way to ruin your credit rating? Never, ever pay your bills on time.

What about ruining your reputation at work? Never, ever keep your appointments.

And the best way to ruin a confession? Each and every time, use the word “if.”

[Be mindful] of the power of this little two-letter word. Too many times, it leads to an empty confession. All the words may be right and proper (I’m sorry), but the heart is missing. And anything without a heart is usually dead, good for nothing.

The word “confess” means “to agree with” — you’re agreeing that you’ve done something wrong. If you’re not ready to agree, then don’t confess. Because that ruins everything.

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