A Failed Relationship: Who is to Blame?

May 22, 2013

in Relationships

failed relationship

“Why did your marriage end?”

That is the best first-date question to ask. What he says next says more about him than the end of the marriage or his ex.

Anyone who has been in a serious relationship knows it’s a complicated, wonderful, frustrating roller coaster ride. And to describe the end is more difficult than describing each twist and turn along the way. It is usually a slow realization than a defining moment.

When asked this question, a person who can easily and succinctly tell me his ex was to blame or vilified the woman was never someone I wanted to date a second time for a simple reason:

One person is never to blame for the end of a marriage.

Having this question as a litmus test meant having a lot of first-and-only dates with men. What I would hear as an answer, more often than not, was that she was a horrible mother, controlling, bitchy, and not attentive to the marriage. I heard about wild spending habits, infidelities, lack of support, and more blame towards another than I thought possible. There was a common theme played out with these men; the blame was never with the man describing the end of the relationship.

With the level of complexity that exists within a marriage and the one-sided answer I received, I will never know what really happened in any of these guys marriages, but what I do know is that the wife alone was not to blame for the end of the marriage. The marriage had a final end point–a final event or explosive conversation–but it was both of them damaging the marriage over a period of time that led to the end.¬†Before infidelity or finding solace in credit cards, something had to break down between the two of them. It’s often communication or the level of effort being made by both.

And, when talking about blame in a relationship, I know it is not only men who blame women. I am speaking from dating experience, but I witness women bashing men far too often as well. I hear the stories of how he wasn’t understanding, terrible with the kids, not loving, inconsiderate, and more. I hear the same one-sided rant from women and, like men, it tells me more about them than it does their ex.

What I think is healthier, and leads to better self awareness, is to evaluate what happened and why. Instead of focusing on the sins of the ex, spend time thinking about the responsibility shared that ultimately led to the end. It is an opportunity to grow and be a better person. It might just lead to a second date, too.


Momma Sunshine May 22, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I agree with you completely. A marriage never ends purely because of one partner. The end of something like a marriage is complex and nuanced. And anyone who is unwilling (or unable) to accept their share of the responsibility needs to be steered clear of.

I’ve often said that you can tell a lot about a man by what he says about his ex-wife. When they call her things like “crazy” “stupid” “lazy” or other such disparaging things — particularly in casual conversation with someone they barely know — it’s definitely red flag time.
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 22, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Beautifully said, Momma Sunshine!

lisa thomson May 22, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Definitely takes 2 to make it and 2 to break it!
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 23, 2013 at 7:28 am

Agreed, Lisa!

My Half Assed Life May 22, 2013 at 10:03 pm

I just recently had a long term relationship end – not by my choice. As sad as I’ve been over it, I still can’t say he’s a jerk or bad mouth him. I wish it could, since anger is so much easier to bear than grief. For every instance I could point a finger at him, there is at least one instance where I can point the same finger at myself.
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 23, 2013 at 7:30 am

I am so sorry about the recent break up. It is a painful process–grieving over a lost love–but I am sure you will get past it. It’s great you have a healthy view of him and the time you were together. I find the people still casting blame never truly move forward with their lives or learn from the experience.

Hang in there.

Jen Anderson May 23, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Blaming the other person also means that they don’t have the sense not to bash their ex-wife on a first date. It’s like the rule about not bashing your former employers during job interviews. If they don’t know better than to avoid that, then what else are you going to have to teach them?
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RJ May 23, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Great post and I agree with you. It definitely takes two.
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Naked Girl in a Dress June 5, 2013 at 8:39 am

Thanks RJ!

alfred lives here May 23, 2013 at 11:27 pm

Great post! So so true…..
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Lonesome Jackalope May 24, 2013 at 8:35 am

Good thoughts. Of course most people try and put the entire relationship in the first few dates. Everything else is sadly post script.
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Naked Girl in a Dress June 5, 2013 at 8:39 am

It’s true. People wonder why relationships fail, but rarely put in the work to make it successful.

Sherrie Moon June 6, 2013 at 12:41 pm

So how’d that work out for me? I became divorced after 15 years of marriage. Was how I dealt with my frustrations the cause of my divorce? Well, no. But I can assure you it didn’t help either.
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Naked Girl in a Dress June 7, 2013 at 9:45 am

I am so sorry you experienced divorce, Sherrie. I hope you are in a better place now.

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