Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Don't play the blame game ... it works for me!

Welcome to Day 23 of the 31 Days Series It Works for Me!

Shortly after LtDan and I married, we attended a marriage seminar at our church.  
Honestly, I can't remember a whole lot from the seminar. 
 But I'm convinced that what little I do recall has significantly contributed to my own sanity 
in relating to the rest of humankind, and probably a good bit to building a happy marriage.

I wish I could remember who presented the seminar, or what it was called so I could give them due credit.   What I do remember is the example of the trashcan.  It nicely encapsulates the gist of the whole seminar.  

See, to the wife, it was important that the trash be emptied every day.  
And more than that, it was important that the husband empty the trash every day.  
Even if it really wasn't full.  
Growing up, her father emptied the trash upon arriving home in the evening after work, 
whether it was full or not, 
and so she expected her husband to do the same. 

 But he didn't.  
And it drove.

In the husband's home, whoever happened to be around 
when the trash can burgeoned was the one who emptied it.  No big deal.  
If it needed to be emptied, someone emptied it.  
He did a hilarious pantomime of how he'd gotten it down to a fine art of pushing the trash 
deep down into the trash can so it didn't need to be emptied as often.  

At one point, the wife refused to empty the trash.  
She left the trashcan half full.  
She pulled it into the middle of the kitchen.  
The trash began to crowd the top of the can.   
She walked around the almost full trashcan in the middle of her kitchen floor for two days. 
Finally, she had an epiphany.  

The trash wasn't a big deal to her husband.  

"Emptying the trash is more important to me than it is to him.  So if emptying the trash can is such a big deal to me, why am I spending so much emotional energy blaming my husband for not emptying it?  
Why don't I just empty the trashcan myself and be happy??? 
If it's really a big deal to me, then I should just take responsibility for it and stop blaming him for not doing it."

I'm sure there was much more substantive material offered that day.  
They had a cute and quippy slogan about:

 "Don't play the blame game,
[insert catchy phrase here about taking responsibility for things, and make it rhyme]!"  

I wish I could remember the positive side of the slogan, but for me, it's kind of boiled down to, 
"if something is a big deal to me, I'm not going to blame someone else for not doing it, 
I'm just going to take the responsibility for it and do it."  

Sometimes, it's appropriate to negotiate things, to assert your feelings, or to train your children.  And of course there are layers upon layers of arguments that can be made ... if they love me, they'll do it because they know it's important to me ... why do I always have to be the one to do this, they should help ... it's not my turn ... I'm working harder than anyone else, I'm doing all the work ... they know it's important to me and that's why they're not doing it, it's a power play ... on and on and on.

But in the meantime ... guess who's feeling bugged about the overflowing trashcan?  


Just not worth it in my book.  
I'm not saying I don't get frustrated with other people ... not by a long shot.  
But I've learned that not being angry and not playing the blame game 
means a lot less frustration. 
It works for me!

Shared joy is doubled joy ... let's double the joy for both of us - what are you most grateful for today? Click below to leave your comment. I'll go first :

  1. The way I look at it the trash may not matter, but she should! I've been married long enough to have figured out that if I start taking out the trash it will become my job til death do us part. Maybe not at your house?

    I'm doing a link up on Friday for stories of growing or pain or whatever might help someone else. I'd love it if you joined up. I'm over at http://2dayichoose.blogspot.com.

    1. I agree, what’s important to her should matter to her husband. The message I took away from it was that marriage is full of compromises and sometimes we create problems for ourselves by making small things into big things, then we fixate on them and get stuck. The husband had a similar story about his expectations about her sweeping … but I can’t remember it :o) thank you for the invite ... i will pop over!

  2. This is great! So simple but so true. Thank you so much for sharing! Looks like I will be emptying the trash a bit more often. :-)

    1. seems like it's the most simple things that make the most difference ... this one was really profound for for me and I'm so glad we learned this early on in our marriage :o)

  3. Ah, yes... Lol!! Same issues and sometimes the solutions can be soooo simple, you're right. And so worth avoiding unnecessary confrontation!

    1. i may very well have thought about the couple that presented this seminar 25 years ago every time i take out the trash. I wish I could remember their names!

  4. Love! After almost 24 years of marriage I now think "I love this person..is this argument really worth it?"
    The answer 99.9% of the time is no.
    Pick your battles and be cool.
    Oh and a great husband (mine) will bring a cup of coffee or cook dinner and say "I can be annoying"

    1. right you are. and a cup of coffee or a prepared meal goes a long way!

  5. One last note...when S and I married, we went through a bit of marriage counseling ourselves and what I remember most is that we had to fill out an expectation list. What did we really expect from the other. Years and years later, they mailed us this expectation list and I remember thinking "did I really expect that...that was pretty childish" :)