“Look What You Made Me Do”: 4 Thoughts on Mistakes in Marriage

About a couples years ago, I was letting my daughter back out the car and, well, she ran over the mailbox (yes I have permission from her to share this). When she ran it over, her first response was “If you wouldn’t have parked the car crooked, that wouldn’t have happened.”

Enter a “dad-talk” about taking responsibility for mistakes and not deferring blame.

Isn’t that human nature? Something happens and, instead of owning the issue, we deflect it upon someone else. We look for someone to either shift the blame or share the blame. When we work harder to blame others instead of correcting mistakes, we will never discover the marital (or personal) health God has designed for us.

Is this not what happened in the Garden of Eden? Adam blamed Eve and God. Eve blamed the serpent. If you don’t own your mistakes, integrity will always elude you. You see, integrity isn’t about being perfect. It’s about how you handle your imperfect life. And you won’t discover it if you look to constantly blame others.

Look what you made me do.
I cannot deny the musical prowess of Taylor Swift (I’ll admit her tunes are catchy). The girl is  crazy talented and uber creative. She has been able to reinvent herself a few times while remaining a global musical icon. Taylor is an extraordinary performer and songwriter. But, as it seems to me, the M.O. of Taylor Swift is don’t tick her off. If you do, she’ll make a reference of you in a song. The crazy thing is how much money she’s raking in by making examples of others. In her latest single, “Look what you made me do,” she shifts blame (it seems like) to every hater she has. Say the title of the song 8 times and you’ve just repeated the entire chorus.

But before anyone starts hating on T-Swift or ranting on her music (which isn’t my intention), we should probably do a bit of self-evaluation. Why? Because the line, “Look what you made me do” is more than the title of a hit song, but the excuse I’ve heard people give for unhealthy personal and marital habits. There’s something about using an excuse to sedate our conscience. “I know what I’m doing wrong, but because of what someone did, I’m going to write myself a ‘free pass’ to excuse what I’m doing.”

What if we took a different approach in our marriage? What if we shifted from the trend that has been fracturing married couples for generations? How can we get past this?

Begin with “play-doh.”
The more pride we use to protect ourselves, the less growth we’re going to see. Pride doesn’t just hold you back, it will stunt the growth and development of your marriage. Humility is what keeps us in a place where own our humanity and permit the Holy Spirit to do a work within our personal lives. I equate humility to the canister that holds Play-Doh; the more I allow myself to be contained in it, the more moldable my life can be in the hands of God. And the more I exercise humility, the more I encourage it in my marriage. Perhaps a healthy way of looking at humility is this: I should expect the level of humility in my spouse that he/she sees in me.

THAT is quite the sobering thought. “Lord, start with me.” (Psalm 139)

Stop the blame-game.
Blaming others is the survival tactic of a person bent toward thinking solely about themselves. It is an action self-preservation. Think about it, “If I’m going down, I’m taking as many people with me as I can.” Friends, in the words of St. James, “My brothers and sisters, this should not be…”  Our marital heart is to seek to protect the other and not inflict with unnecessary and/or undue pain. Which leads me to…

Own your mistakes.
Instead of waiting to see humility in “owning your mistakes,” lead in it. Mistakes are damaging enough, we compound them by refusing to own them when we are at fault. Taking ownership of something you’ve caused speaks volumes to your spouse while positioning your marriage to begin the healing process. I think of it this way: Admitting our faults helps prevent infections and/or keeping them from spreading.

Apologize without a “but.”
The art of self-preservation is rooted in protecting the ME instead of the WE. “I made a mistake, but if you would have…” Nope.  Stop.  Don’t go there. Fight the urge to attack; feed the heart of humility. There may be other issues to deal with, but keep the main issue the “main issue.”

The best approach to an apology isn’t rooted in a casual “I’m sorry” but in a strategic position of “I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” There’s a night and day difference. One is admitting a fault. The other is positioning the two for resolution. One is getting things over with. The other is inviting the “offended” spouse to participate. How? By the only feasible and proper response: “I forgive you.”

As I say so often, a win for ME isn’t necessarily a win for the “WE”; A win for the “WE” is always a win for ME.  For ME, the blame game “feels” right in the moment. But that’s when Proverbs 14:12 pops up in my head,

There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.

Selfishness and pride always feels “right” in the moment, but it’s end-game is disaster. And it’s no different in marriage.

Are there things your marriage hasn’t gotten over because of the blame-game? What can you do today to change that? How can you be an example of humility in your marriage?

Love you all. Praying for you.

Encourage effort.
Celebrate progress.
Feed hope.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

BTW: Check out my book. Click on the link below.

About the author : David Barringer

David Barringer

My name is Dave… …Husband to my best friend, Anne …Dad to Cammi and Ethan ..author of "Mosaic Marriage" …Lead Pastor @kalamazoofirst My passions: Jesus, Anne, my kids, and football. Anne’s passions: Jesus, me, our kids, and anything but football. That’s as simple as it gets.

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