The Danger of Blame & Guilt in Divorce

Divorce, in our culture, is seldom blameless. Even in “no-fault” cases, there’s always someone who didn’t do enough, let themselves fight louder or harder than the other or let their eyes wander when the other was focused on the family or their career.

In speaking with Michael Schiesser and Neelama Eyres, co-authors of Divorced with Love, and co-founders of Inner Journey Institute, I found that they knew from first-hand experience all about the twin poles of blame and guilt. They knew them because they had both participated in the narrative of creating them—and, for a time—clung to that narrative.

Blame

It’s easy, when you’re the one who’s been betrayed or in some way wronged, to cast all blame on your ex. And why not? Maybe an infidelity catapulted you toward divorce. Or maybe your partner asked you to move out. If you weren’t the partner calling the shots, it feels natural to blame the one who was. And you’re probably being supported in that interpretation by friends and family who are naturally on your side.

Guilt

On the other side of the battlefield is the one who “called the shots”, the one who walks away with much of the guilt in the divorce. Maybe there was betrayal. Maybe infidelity. Or maybe the guilty party was the one who finally raised his (or probably her) voice and made a decision.

Relax, It’s Natural

Michael and Neelama are not quick to judge people going through the blame and resentment game. They both acknowledge that they played it for longer than they wanted to. They know that it’s a process and getting out of the victim (or perpetrator) mode can be hard. But the payoff is huge. “It’s natural,” Neelama insists, “to go through a phase of anger, bitterness and resentment”. Feeling those feelings, allowing yourself to go through that phase—and, if possible, being aware that it’s a phase—can keep you on the path to a full emotional recovery.

Outside Perspective Helps

Moving out of your corner of the boxing ring requires work. But sometimes, it’s the only thing that will shock you out of your own narrow perspective. Considering the point of view of, perhaps, the children, can be a splash of cold water. But even a less dramatic consideration—the point of view of an outsider, someone who doesn’t know you, perhaps a support group, can help.

It’s hard not to stake out your corner, whether that’s the victim or the perpetrator. But, ultimately, it’s the middle ground that will lead to where you want to be.

If you’re considering divorce but would like to try an approach that might mean a brighter future, call my team to schedule a confidential consultation.