How do you improve communication in marriage? It’s a question I’ve asked for years with no good answer. In the midst of discovering the barriers to effective communication in a Christian marriage, I’ve struck on one hard theme over and over; accountability vs blame in relationships.
Why Start With Accountability Vs Blame in Relationships?
Bud and I read some of the best Christian Marriage books which offered a lot of quick-fix strategies that just never worked for us. Can you relate? Hubby and I both wanted to learn how to communicate better. Funny isn’t it? We tried hard, apply strategies, and got frustrated when they didn’t work, or they didn’t work long-term.
So let me be clear as we begin. This is not a quick fix. There is no one size fits all way to learn how to communicate better in marriage. This is not a formula that will immediately transform your marriage.
No, what I offer you today is the first step toward heart-deep transformation. Learning about accountability vs blame in relationships will change the pattern of communication in your marriage slowly, yes, but in a real and sustainable way.
A Pattern of Blame
Somewhere along the way, in our marriage, I began to blame Bud for all the things. Everything was his fault and every misunderstanding or miscommunication quickly turned into a blame contest.
You see, some of our troubles were undeniably his fault. He had messed up so bad, hurt me so deeply, acted so selfishly… And faced with his huge, very easy-to-identify mistakes, my mess didn’t feel as bad or as much to blame for our failing marriage.
So instead of being honest about my part, living in accountability, I chose to blame him and defer any fault or responsibility. Self-righteousness. Pride. Sin.
It wasn’t until I began to own my part that things changed for us. Truly, until I admitted I was also to blame for some of our mess, every conversation turned into a losing battle. Until I deal with my stuff with the Lord… Until I let Psalm 139 wash over me and shine a light on the real ugliness inside…
Real lasting change doesn’t happen until we get real about our own part in things. Accountability vs blame.
The 1st of 10 Steps to Improve Communication in Marriage
This is a small part of the 2-week Marriage Communication Workshop. Each day in the workshop we will practice marriage communication exercises and apply scripture strategically to invite God to move and transform. So often we leave God out of the daily communication in our relationship. Huge mistake. Learning to invite HIM in changes everything!
Effective Communication in Marriage Begins With Accountability
The tendency in marriage when we get past the honeymoon is to slip into blame. When you begin to see signs of a blame culture in your marriage, know you need to take immediate action! We will talk about that in a moment, but for now, just know that to combat blame, which leads to discontentment, we must embrace accountability. Accountability vs blame in relationships is important!
Accountability in marriage is about owning my part. It is critical that we pray the prayer of David in Psalm 139 and ask God to search our hearts and know us.
Search Me and Know Me: Accountability Vs Blame in Relationships.
Yes, as with so many other struggles in our faith walk and marriage, my first point is, we must begin with prayer. Surprised? Prayer changes things! Especially when dealing with issues of accountability and blame.
How can we be accountable if we have no idea what parts of the mess are our fault? Praying in the way we will discuss helps us see our own mess, our part in the struggle and be accountable for changing things.
Step one to effective communication in marriage begins in prayer asking God to search me and know me.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thought; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23-24 NASB)
What is Lack of Accountability in Relationships?
I always think I am right in an argument. Always. Anyone else?
If I have even a shadow of a doubt about the matter I won’t engage in the fight. It drives my husband crazy.
On the other hand, my husband loves to be right, even when he is wrong. It doesn’t matter if the conversation is about the price of a barrel of oil or how toilet paper should be hung, he wants to win. He wants to win and I know I am right. The communication that happens in those moments is painful.
Why do we fight about ridiculous things?
The attitude we take into the conversation often dictates the result. This is one of many signs of a lack of accountability in relationships like marriage. It shows we don’t see our partner as a partner anymore. We are bordering on discontentment with them, living from one competition to the next, one proof that they are the problem to the next.
If I am bent on being right and he is set on winning we are headed for failure. Our attitudes are barriers to effective communication in marriage. A lack of accountability begins with our thoughts and attitude toward each other.
What Does Accountability Look Like In A Relationship? Own My Part
A lack of accountability is a barrier to effective communication. Now knowing what my issues are makes it impossible to communicate well. The problem with that is we often refuse to see our own mess. In fact, we rarely stop blaming our spouse long enough to search out our own part. At least that is my deal…
Refusing to own my part in our communication problems guarantees they last longer than necessary.
Do you know yourself well?
For years I was blind to my own faults and quirks. Not for a lack of others trying to get through to me, however… Most of the time I ignored people when they called me out. “God made me that way,” I would rationalize.
Accountability in marriage looks like me being honest about my own faults instead of always laying the blame completely at his feet.
Stop Blaming God: Blame Vs Responsibility
In an attempt to help me see myself more clearly, friends have been told I am:
- A know it all.
- A brat.
- An Insufferable when I think I am right.
- Over the top dramatic.
- A people-pleaser.
And you have to understand that before I ever started blaming my husband for our problems in marriage, I was blaming God for my problems in life. God made me all of those things listed above. Well, if I even accept that they are annoying parts of my personality that cause problems in my relationships.
Do you ever blame God?
Can I be honest with you? God didn’t make me that way.
Many of those characteristics were chiseled into me by the depravity of a sin-filled world. They were my coping mechanisms for surviving.
- I put up my “know it all” side when I don’t want to be hurt or feel dumb.
- My people-pleasing personality comes out when I need to avoid wounding confrontation.
- That a-type personality is how I drive through a to-do list when life won’t stop handing out hard.
And all of those things led to an unhappy marriage, yes, even in a Christian marriage.
Blaming God never changed things or made me less unhappy. Instead of blame, I needed to take responsibility for the ungodly habits that had become character traits.
How do we take responsibility for the sinful parts of who we have become?
Know Your Identity in Christ: Prayer
So we come back to the point that prayer is the best way to begin solving communication problems in marriage. It’s by far the best way to begin to tackle any problem in marriage (except abuse; you need to get to safety first).
If you want to know yourself better ask God to show you what He sees. What is your identity in Christ?
About a decade ago I was so far down in a pit of despair I couldn’t see my way out. My second marriage was on the rocks, we had lost a child, and it seemed like there was no point left in life. A radio preacher began to talk about how much God loved me, created me specifically with His own blueprint, saw every fault and quirk in me, and valued me too much to leave me in a pit of despair. (Read more about that here)
Ever had one of those moments?
A moment where God speaks right into your heart answering the exact thing you were praying.
I began praying Psalm 139 at his insistence and God began to show me the parts of me He designed and how sin and pain had twisted them. He began showing me how to give them back to Him to heal and mold. The Lord used that prayer to transform my mess into a beautiful testimony.
Why Pray Psalm 139?
What does Psalm 139 have to do with better communication in a Christian marriage?
When you say to God, “Search me and know me,” He will.
He began to show me the things I was blaming Bud and God about rather than taking accountability and responsibility for my own part.
Forgiveness came up. If you are not forgiving in your marriage, bitterness, and resentment seek out the fallowed ground where blame loves to take root.
It’s so easy to let those things build up until they seep out as bitterness and resentment in our everyday conversation. You can ask God to show you where you are angry, where you no longer trust your husband, and where you are not taking accountability for your own part.If you are not forgiving in your marriage, bitterness, and resentment seek out the fallowed ground where blame loves to take root: How To Use Accountability Vs Blame in Relationships for Communication Click To Tweet
Psalm 139 (Italics Mine)
“Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I get (rise) up;
You understand my thought from far away.
You scrutinize (carefully watch) my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with (know) all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, Lord, You know it all.
You have encircled me behind and in front,
And placed Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot comprehend it.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend (rise up) to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol (the depths of Hell), behold, You are there.
If I take up the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will take hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.
For You created my innermost parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, because I am awesomely (fearfully) and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully formed in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my formless substance;
And in Your book were written
All the days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
How precious also are Your thoughts for me, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.
If only You would put the wicked to death, God;
Leave me, you men of bloodshed.
For they speak against You wickedly,
And Your enemies take Your name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate You, Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
I hate them with the utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
Put me to the test and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there is any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139 NASB)
A Prayer From Psalm 139
Lord, you know all the parts of me. You see everything I do at all times. I try to hide the imperfect parts of myself from others, but you see them. You even see the things I can’t see for myself.
So often I try to run from my problems, hide from the pain. No matter where I hide, you find me. There is nowhere Your love and grace and mercy can’t reach.
Why would You love me? I am a hot mess and I have been from the beginning. The Bible says You chose me, called me before I was even born. Still, You were with me before I was born, forming me. You knew then the mess I would be now. How could you see and know and still choose me? It is too much for me to take in and I could never repay such tender mercy.
My heart’s desire is to love You, honor You, and glorify You with my whole life. But I fall short. Your forgiveness and restoration are a marvel to me. Please help me to never take it for granted. Forgive me for the times I do.
I would like to say that ungodly people tempt me to sin and I resist, but that would be a lie. I am a sinner… a saint who still sins. Help me turn away from sin, turn away from the temptation to blame others for my own failures, for my own part. Help me hate sin and choose righteousness.
Search me. Reveal the sin I am blind to in myself. Show me where my thoughts lead to sin. Lead me in Your way so this life honors You. Amen.
Accountability Vs Responsibility Examples: Forgiveness
Often, communication breaks down when I refuse to forgive. Then, slowly over time, it is easier and easier to refuse forgiveness. After a while you forget you didn’t forgive…
Taking accountability for my part is confessing to the Lord my struggle to forgive my husband. Note, however, I am not taking responsibility for his bad behavior with forgiveness. Rather, I am owning my part of the problem to avoid it growing. I am making sure things are right between God and me.
Forgiveness is key to improving life, let alone communication in marriage. Many times I am not even aware I didn’t forgive my husband until God shows me?!?!?
Again, this is why prayer is important. God will shine His light on the areas where He knows we need to work right now.
How Do You Hold Someone Accountable Without Blaming?
It seems like an easy enough thing that in marriage we should hold each other accountable. The problem, however, is that we are selfish people who focus on our own needs and hurt rather than thinking about our partner’s needs and hurt.
We have to know ourselves in order to work on our marriage… know our tendency toward pride or competition or discontentment or just plain selfishness.
For years I was not owning my part in our communication problem. Shoot, I wasn’t owning my part in any of our marriage problems. I was sure all of our communication problems lay firmly on my husband’s shoulders. Accountability vs blame in a relationship does not just drop all the problems at someone else’s feet… well, unless that someone is Jesus (He’s the only One who can handle all the things).
When Your Partner Refuses To Be Accountable
Part of the reason I struggled to own my part, at least in our marriage, was that my husband never apologized or owned his part. There was a wounded part of my heart that just refused to do the work if he wouldn’t do any of the work.
So, I blamed it all on him.
This is a safe space, right?
For years I hammered home all my husband’s faults, quirks, and failures as the reason for our marriage issues. And He believed me.
Why did he believe me so easily? My words echoed what the enemy was already whispering to him about his failures.
There Is A Real Enemy
Did you know that the enemy is already telling your spouse that they are the problem? They are fighting against doing the work, sometimes, because they are afraid to start letting out some of the crazy thoughts they have about how much of a failure they are…
When my husband finally let me in on this I cried. The enemy had been echoing all my blame in my husband’s mind. He had torn that man down so far that he felt I would be better off without him.
Let that sink in for a moment…
Do you want to be a tool the enemy can use to keep your husband from living up to the potential for the calling Christ has on his life?
I was such a tool…
Even if you have a partner who refuses to be accountable, resist the urge to live in a culture of blame in the hopes that it will shift the atmosphere. Blame never shifts things in a positive way.
What Is An Example of A Lack of Accountability in Relationships?
So there I was with a man who wouldn’t acknowledge his part in our struggles. Where did that leave me? Blame was helping the enemy destroy the man I loved. What was left?
Owning my part. Accountability.
For years I lived sort of like an island. It felt like my blaming him was justified, but the truth was, no one really knew it was happening. No one but God. Others saw our situation and felt sorry for me because it was clear where his struggles caused us to struggle. No one knew I was blaming him and tearing him down with my words privately.
When no one knows the real you in your marriage but God you have a lack of accountability in marriage.
So, part of owning my part was letting a few trustworthy women know my part.Wives, if we want to Improve Communication in our Christian Marriage we have to Own Our Part. Owning our part is about accountability vs blame in a relationship! Click To Tweet
Accountability Vs Responsibility in Relationships
Now I am not saying everything was my fault. He was struggling with some serious things that made marriage difficult and communication in marriage felt almost impossible.
Neither am I saying that I bore the responsibility for everything. What I am saying, sweet wife, is that it takes two to make or break a marriage.
I am One of those Two and I desperately wanted to fix my marriage. Honestly, in my deepest dreams, I longed for our marriage to be filled with hope and joy. Can you relate?
There is no way to improve communication if I am unwilling to accept responsibility for my part of the problem. My part, not all the parts.
First, accountability vs blame in a relationship is shifting how I view the problems.
After that, accountability vs responsibility in relationships is about bringing others into this journey, praying often and admitting my part openly to my spouse.Accountability vs blame in a relationship is shifting how I view the problems. Then, accountability vs responsibility in relationships is about bringing others into this journey, praying often and admitting my part openly to my… Click To Tweet
How To Own My Part: Accepting Accountability and Responsibility in Marriage
Walking this path, accountability vs blame in relationships begins with prayer.
You are at war. There is a real spiritual war going on right now, whether you are fighting back or not! Prayer fights the enemy’s schems.To make real, lasting change in your marriage you must commit to prayer like you never have before. It’s time to become a Prayer Warrior Wife!
How To Pray Over Your Marriage For Accountability Vs Blame in Relationships
How do you really pray for change in your marriage? This kind of prayer is about owning our part and praying for God to help us in that process. We will address the changes needed in our partner soon, but we can’t really work toward that if we are stuck in a cycle of blame.
How do we pray this way?
- Pray in humility.
- Ask God to show you where there is anything in your heart you have not forgiven.
- Where are you casting blame?
- Set a guard.
- Beg God to guard your mouth (Psalm 141:3) until you have forgiven.
- This only works if you are willing to give up keeping an account of wrong.
- Seek wisdom.
- Pray Psalm 139 over your life seeking wisdom about who you are and Whose you are.
- Ask for a changeable heart.
- As God reveals things that are causing the communication breakdown in marriage- admit them, confess them, and ask God to change you.
- Commit to patience.
- Watch as you see a radical change in the communication in your marriage.
- The change will happen slowly but it will be a lasting change!
How To Deal With A Toxic Partner While Praying
But what if…
What if your husband is narcissistic, antagonistic, always nitpicking, complaining/grumbling, and raring for a fight anytime you are together?
I do not stand before you today with all the answers nor would I ever want to minimize your situation. My heart breaks for you in that situation, truly. I would love to join in prayer with you that God will change his heart and this situation. Please do not bear this burden alone.
What I will say is this; all of those things have probably caused you to hold a record of his wrongs. They caused me to refuse to forgive him because the offense was repeated without remorse or apology. I know from experience that it is so hard to forgive because it seems like you are letting them off the hook. It feels like you will be opening yourself up to deeper hurt by forgiving.
What can you do in the midst of the process before the change takes effect?
Love Your Enemy
Agree or disagree remembering that God tells us to love our enemy.
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…” (Luke 6:27-36 NASB)
No one wants to outright call our spouse the enemy, but it feels that way sometimes doesn’t it? If you are in a difficult place with your husband’s faults I would ask you to stick around. We will hit that head-on and apply many marriage communication tools to help even in the most difficult circumstance.
If you are in a difficult season of a Christian marriage or if you feel that you are in the midst of an impossible-to-change difficult marriage, hold onto hope. The same God who raises the dead can work miracles to change everything in your situation.
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11 NASB)
Understand Accountability Vs Blame in Relationships To Improve Communication in a Christian Marriage
The first step toward improving communication in a Christian marriage (any marriage actually) is to understand the role of accountability vs blame in relationships. Prayer is a key first step toward that goal. We have to know ourselves, own our part of the problem and truly embrace who we are in Christ to make lasting change.
This is the first step in the heart-deep process of radical change in your marriage. LOL, it will actually change every relationship in your life if you allow it!
If this is an area you are working to improve in your marriage be sure to join the full Marriage Communication Workshop. Inside the workshop, you will gain access to the effective Communication in Marriage PDF Workbook which is filled with even more marriage communication exercises!
In HIS love,
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