We know the scenario: a frazzled couple, stroppy kids and a car that just isn’t big enough to fit all the stuff they’ve just bought in store. Over-tired and over-sugared children seem destined to test the tolerance of their parents while an impatient driver waits conspicuously for their parking spot adding pressure to the situation.
The initial checkout high that follows the inevitable impulse purchase (has anyone EVER been to Ikea* and NOT bought something that wasn’t on their list?) is soon displaced by post-purchase blues.
Reality sets in. Now they have to get it home… somehow… and quickly before the kids unravel and the car park grid-locks. The setting is ripe for the good old ‘blame game’.
The delicate negotiations in store that seemed a fair deal (you can get that if I can buy this) are now under threat of terminal annihilation. The script will get rewritten in accusations of selfish or irresponsible behaviour as the blame missiles begin. Everyone is a loser. The kids will be sharply criticised and they’ll both say things to each other that wound.
Blaming might be predictable, but it is never constructive in a marriage. Too often blaming is an emotional diversion; it deflects our attention away from our own guilt, bad judgement or inadequacy and focuses on our spouse’s shortcomings. Yet making our spouse feel badly will never alleviate our own negative feelings: if anything, blame adds to them as the situation escalates to an all out fight or sends our spouse crashing.
So be forewarned. Before heading off to some furniture shopping, get a clear understanding of what you are both trying to accomplish!
Questions for Reflection
1. When do you find yourself blaming?
2. What are your ‘blame triggers’:
- Feeling inadequate
- Feeling embarrassed
- Feeling guilty
- Feeling stressed
- Feeling judged
3. What impact do your blame missiles have on your spouse, children, friends?
Other Posts in this Series
Why Couples fight in Ikea: here
The Ikea Carpark Battle: here – this post
The Ikea Assembly Meltdown: here
*No criticism intended – these observations apply equally to almost all home furnishing stores