There tends to be a lot of finger pointing that happens in my office. “But he did this or you should see the way she tries to control me.” It is the focus on what the other person is doing to you. It is the reason THEY have messed up the marriage or how THEY do not work hard enough to fix it. There are some marriages where one of the spouses looks more like the “bad guy/girl” than their spouse. They have had an affair, they are an alcoholic, they will not come to counseling. But focusing on this aspect and this aspect only, you miss out on looking at what is going on with you! Absolutely the affair or the addiction needs to be worked through and the pain you are feeling as the spouse needs to be worked on, but counseling is about growing and changing. It is not just about “fixing” your spouse.
When you constantly shift all blame and issues on to your partner it does something very powerful for you. It keeps you from having to take that hard look in the mirror to see what isn’t working for you. When the mirror is not immediately in front of you it seems like a great idea. From a distance who wouldn’t want to be able to like a hard look at their life and make improvements? It tends to be different for people when the mirror is sitting in front of them. When they are sitting on a therapy couch with your spouse telling you how they see you it can be painful and difficult.
Change and growth always start with insight. Insight can sometimes be half the battle of therapy. Some of our own dysfunctions can feel natural which makes it hard to see (because it is what we have done our whole lives), but they are generally not things that we are particularly proud of. Our own dysfunctions often provoke shame. For many it is easier to not deal with that part of themselves or just continue to believe that it is not true. One of the easiest ways to do this is to turn it around and put it back on your spouse, to say “yes, but he…” You do not have to deal with the pain and difficulty of change if you can take the focus off of it and put it back on your spouse.
This is why there is much finger pointing that goes on in my office. Making it all your spouse’s fault is an attempt to not have to take the hard look in the mirror. The hard look in the mirror is pivotal and necessary for you to change and be happy and only when both spouses change can a marriage move forward to a better place.