It is your fault

How to save your relationship from the ‘it is your fault’ sequence

Ben was upset with Jane when she arrived home late from her shift at work, and he had less time before starting out for his gym session. If Jane had taken the route he had suggested, she would have cut down on travel time. Jane took a route she found to be less stressful.

The Rightness

We have probably all felt justified in the ‘rightness’ of our point of view in a conflict situation.

When a conflict arises, we sometimes look for an explanation of what is happening. In this process of finding an explanation we can become acutely aware of perceived offending actions or inactions of our partners.

In contrast, we can perceive our own actions as a response to their offending behaviour.

When exploring our partner’s behaviour, one common sequence is: ‘It is your fault”.

“It is your fault”

Saving your relationship from the ‘it is your fault’ sequence

In this sequence we analyse our partner’s behaviour, hold a trial in our heads, and inevitably find them guilty. Sometimes we also analyse similar situations from the past, and find other evidence of our partner’s guilt.

To complete the sequence, we then attempt to have out partner acknowledge their fault, apologise, and change their behaviour (Christensen, Doss, & Jacobson, 2014).

We are then surprised at our partner’s resistance to participate in this sequence.


Listening can save your relationship from the ‘it is your fault’ sequence


While it is common to highlight our positive qualities and describe our partner with negative ones, this can be a sign that we are struggling to see things from each other’s perspectives.

Sometimes simply listening to each other, and trying to see the situation from each other’s perspective, can help us to move forward.

The situation where one or both partners struggle to see a situation from the other’s perspective can be a symptom of more complex dynamics.

If you feel that you (or your partner) are struggling to see things from the other’s perspective, please contact me.

Jenny Ensing is a relationships counsellor. She began Courage Counselling to provide a family-safe environment to hold on to hope for families and relationships.

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