As Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, I thought it would be timely to share a post on relationships this week. Enjoy! 

Relationships can be heavenly, hellish, or somewhere in between. Ask anyone who’s been happily married for years or who has been through a bitter divorce. The problem extends not only to married relationships but to all relationships as well.

The question researchers have pondered for years is: what is the difference between a happily married couple who enjoys intimacy, warmth, and loving kindness versus an unhappy, unfulfilled relationship where each partner feels alone and unloved. The findings from an intensive study at Stanford University might give us a clue.

According to a study of 1500 people by associate professor, Dr. David Burns, the primary disparity between happily married partners and unhappy, dissatisfied couples boils down to this: whether  or not and to what degree partners take responsibility for their actions or play the “blame and shame” game with each other.

Some people have difficulty taking responsibility for themselves and the difficult situations they find themselves in. When faced with difficult situations due to their own poor choices, rather than turn the mirror inward, these people, who often have a narcissistic tendency to begin with,  blame their situations on another person, typically the one closest to them. They have incorrectly associated taking responsibility with being “wrong”.

To these folks, admitting their part is akin to admitting guilt or defeat. It stems from an unrealistic self-image. As children, at some level, these people have learned that admitting responsibility equates to admitting guilt, shame, and self-reproach. They cannot assume responsibility without also assuming they are fundamentally bad people. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Jesus said this: “There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 8:1). We are all human and we all make mistakes. It is both unhealthy and unwise to be so hard on ourselves that we think of ourselves as bad to the core. We must unlearn this faulty thinking. Accept the fact that none of us is perfect and that we will make mistakes. Forgive ourselves but also accept responsibility for our choices, attitudes, and behaviors. Only then can we enjoy healthy, happy, relationships with one another and stop the “blame and shame” game. 

True love feels safe to explore and admit one’s weaknesses. We have the freedom to admit our faults without fear of being judged or criticized. When we are loved and accepted for who we are, we have the courage to face ourselves squarely in the mirror and make the necessary adjustments. There is little talk of who is right or wrong. It is a step forward in the process of self-awareness and personal growth.

In what situations today do you feel blamed or shamed? Or are you the one doing the blaming and refusing to accept responsibility for your actions? The answer is to understand no one on earth can love us perfectly. It is only when we accept the unconditional love of God and understand how much he loves each of us uniquely can we feel truly affirmed, accepted, and loved.

If this post resonated with you, please leave a comment and until next time, keep looking up!


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