It is starting to get old. “My spouse blames me for everything.”
Does your husband or wife seem to accuse you all the time?
Listen closely: you are not to blame.
Naturally, there may be some things that are partly your responsibility. Some actions you took (or didn’t take), some words you spoke, some treatment of your spouse.
You are human after all.
But blame and responsibility are two very different things.
If your partner blames you for all things, all of the time, that’s a very inaccurate picture of the situation.
Let’s explore why they may try to pin the blame on you every time, and then discuss what you can do about it.
13 Reasons Why Your Spouse May Blame You For Eveything
1. They are stressed.
Life is stressful in many ways: work, relationships, family, health, and financial to name but a few.
If your partner has been experiencing a lot of stress recently, or they simply get stressed easily, they may look for a way to express their anxiety and frustration.
That expression could take the form of blame.
They may see things that are going wrong or challenges that seem too hard to face, and they may blame you for them.
Related article: 12 Tips For Dealing With A Stressed Partner And Helping Them Relax
2. They have low self-esteem.
A person with low self-esteem doesn’t particularly like themselves.
Unfortunately, this dislike can often permeate into their relationships.
They may be struggling with their emotions and with life in general, but they feel unable to ask for help.
Instead, they point the finger at anyone who is present. As their spouse, that means you much of the time.
As with stress, you become an outlet for their difficult thoughts and feelings.
Related article: 6 Signs Your Man Has Low Self-Esteem (+ 5 Ways You Can Help Him)
3. They don’t want to change.
Accepting responsibility for their actions means facing up to the possibility that they need to change.
And change is scary for many people, especially when that change involves your own behavior.
It is far easier not to change. So to justify not addressing their own shortcomings, they shift them onto you.
Suddenly, since everything is your fault, they are no longer required to put in the hard work – and it is hard work – to change how they are and who they are.
4. They are a narcissist.
Some estimates put the number of people who suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder at 6.2% of the population.
And narcissists find it almost impossible to accept any kind of responsibility for things that go wrong.
They cannot admit they are wrong because it would shatter the fragile view they hold of themselves as perfect beings.
Narcissists will always seek to blame someone else for anything they do wrong or anything that goes wrong.
If you are married to one, that person will be you most of the time.
5. They are a controlling perfectionist.
Some people have a very exact view on how things should be done.
They are perfectionists who can’t tolerate when something is done differently to how they would like.
And so they often become controlling in their behavior, expecting others around them to bend to their will.
Only, it’s impossible to live up to their standards.
The result: blame.
They blame you for not being the perfect person they wish you to be. The perfect person that they are.
Every time you deviate from their expectation of perfection, you get blamed.
6. They are unhappy in the marriage.
If blame is something that has slowly crept into your relationship and that has now reached a peak, it might be that your spouse isn’t happy in the marriage.
And they may see you as the principle reason why they are unhappy.
And so they begin to blame you for everything. You become the focus of their discontent.
Rather than try to talk to you and work through the problems in your marriage, they look for the easy way out.
They pile on the blame in the hope that it pushes you away and ends the marriage.
That way, if you end up getting divorced, it’s your fault, not theirs.
7. They resent you for something.
A separate part of being unhappy in a relationship is a feeling of resentment toward your partner.
They believe you did something that has made their life or your relationship worse.
Even if you both agreed on it, they see you as the primary instigator of whatever that thing was.
Perhaps it was moving to a new city, having children, or even getting married in the first place.
If they feel these changes have not worked out in their favor, or if they are struggling to cope with their new situation, they might blame you for it.
And they don’t just blame you for the big change that occurred, but for everything else that came with it – including their unhappiness.
8. They learned to blame from their parents.
Children are like sponges – they soak up everything they see and hear.
In the case of unhealthy relationship patterns, a child might grow up believing that these are the norm.
If all they ever saw was one parent blaming the other – or both parents blaming each other – they might replicate this behavior in their own relationships.
It starts out as an instinct based upon their childhood, and it quickly develops into a habit that they do without really thinking.
9. They regret something they did.
Sometimes, when a person does something they are not proud of or regret in some way, they project those feelings onto others.
In other words, rather than face up to the regret or guilt, they make it seem like someone else has reason to feel regret or guilt in their place.
This manifests as blame.
Rather than take the blame for something they did, they find a way to blame you for something you did.
These things might be related, or they might not.
10. They feel burdened with responsibility.
Some people may feel like they are taking on a lot of responsibility – more than their fair share in a relationship.
This may or may not be an accurate reflection of the situation. It doesn’t really matter; they see it is as being the case.
So, when something goes wrong – and things do go wrong in life – they feel like they didn’t have enough support and that’s why it went wrong.
Your partner may blame you for their mistakes because you “should have” stopped them from making them.
You should have helped them make a better decision or to carry the burden of a task.
Of course, it doesn’t matter if you already take on much of the responsibility, they still expect you to help them.
This is quite common in people who are self-obsessed or emotionally immature and/or who can’t look after themselves as an adult.
11. They are trying NOT to blame the kids.
Children of all ages can be infuriating at times for all sorts of reasons. Maybe they don’t listen to your requests, they have tantrums, they whinge and whine, they break things by accident, they make a mess. All of this is pretty normal kid stuff.
But if your spouse gets irritated by the behavior or actions of one of your kids, they may take it out on you rather than on the child. Their parental instinct stops them from releasing their anger in the direction of the child (some of the time, at least), and if they can’t find a suitable outlet, they direct it at you.
Your kid spilled a drink and some of it went on your spouse’s laptop – that’s your fault for giving them the wrong type of cup that was too big for them (according to your spouse).
This is known in psychological terms as displacement. They are displacing their anger from your child onto you. It’s important to note that this is still not a healthy or acceptable way to cope with their anger – they need to find better ways to deal with it.
12. They have mental health concerns.
If your spouse is suffering from a mental health condition – especially if that is currently not being treated – it can lead to irritation, anger, and, ultimately, blame.
Anxiety may not seem like it could turn into blame, but anxiety often comes from a perceived lack of control over events. And a lack of control is all it takes for anger to turn from a feeling into a behavior of some sort – in this case blame.
Addiction can also be felt as a loss of control which can then lead to irritation and anger turning into blame.
Some people who suffer from depression will also be prone to angry outbursts.
13. They are hormonal.
Women of certain ages go through a well-established monthly hormonal cycle. Other women may be on birth control medication. Others may be going through the menopause. And then there are those who are pregnant.
Hormones can affect behavior in many ways and irritation is often cited by women as a sign of their hormonal changes.
But men also experience changes in their hormones. Their testosterone levels can vary throughout the day, over the course of a month, at certain times of year, and as they get older.
With all these possible reasons, it can indeed be a challenge to deal with a spouse. Here are 8 things you can do.
How To Deal With A Spouse Who Blames You For Everything
Whilst it can be helpful to identify the core reasons why your partner blames you for things, what you are really looking for is some advice on how to handle the situation.
Let’s look at some of the steps you will have to take.
1. Check in with your partner to see if they are okay.
If your partner is having a hard time for whatever reason – stress over a new job, for example – they may need to get help. But they might not be able to make it happen by themselves.
Sometimes, all it takes is for someone to say to them, “Hey, I’m worried about you. I can see that things are really hard for you right now. Are you okay? Is there anything you’d like to talk about?”
Simply checking in with your partner might be enough to trigger some walls to crumble and for them to open up and admit that they are struggling. That’s the first step they need to take in order to seek the kind of help they might need.
Pick your moment to have an honest conversation about this. Don’t do it straight after one of their outbursts. Wait until they are in a calm emotional state and they will be far more receptive to your question and more willing to talk about whatever it is that is bothering them.
2. Be patient.
Even if your goal is to reach a point where your spouse stops blaming you for everything, you can’t expect to get there quickly.
Understand that, for them, blaming others is a tool that they use to deal with the challenges they face both in your relationship and in a wider context.
It has become a coping mechanism – no matter how unhealthy.
If you try to get them to go cold turkey on blaming you or others, you take away a method that they use to self-soothe.
As a result, they may turn to other tools such as anger or withdrawal which are potentially even more damaging.
Take things slowly, one day at a time, and focus on the improvements they make, even if they sometimes seem to take two steps forwards, one step back.
3. Don’t fight blame with blame.
When you truly believe that something you’re being blamed for isn’t your fault, it can feel right to turn the blame back on the other person.
But escalation of this sort is rarely a good move.
Your spouse is not going to suddenly stop and say, “Actually, you are right, I am to blame.”
Instead, they will get defensive and angry.
They will accuse you of trying to wriggle out of it, to shirk responsibility – even if that’s exactly what they are doing in the first place.
4. Use neutral language upon being blamed.
Instead of blaming your partner back, focus only on how their accusations make you feel.
And avoid saying “you” in any sentence.
Instead, use “I” statements that reflect on their actions without specifically mentioning them.
“I feel hurt and upset by that,” is one example of how you might phrase things.
And as much as you may wish to argue your case, it’s often better to leave it at that.
This isn’t an admission of fault. It’s simply a way for you to express yourself without leading to pointless conflict.
Oh, and don’t apologize for things that aren’t your fault. You don’t need to accept the blame by saying sorry when there really isn’t anything to feel sorry about.
5. Approach marriage counselling carefully.
When a marriage hit the rocks, it might seem natural to turn to counselling as a couple.
But you must be careful about how you go about it.
Firstly, when suggesting counselling, talk about how you wish to rebuild your relationship and the positives that might come of it.
Mention how you would like to learn better ways to communicate and find out if there is anything else you can do to make the marriage work better.
Be humble, admit that you have flaws, and say that you want to address them.
Don’t pitch relationship coaching as a way to apportion blame – this implies that they are to blame for some of the problems you face.
They will not take kindly to this and will probably resist counselling altogether.
Secondly, during counselling, you must continue to be tactful in how you talk, what you say, and how you express yourself.
Even if you believe that their actions are a large part of the problem, it’s better to maintain your “I” not “you” approach.
“I feel a lot of pressure to get things right.”
“I feel overwhelmed by all the things on my plate.”
“I’m not sure of the best ways to help him/her with the stress in his/her life.”
“I don’t feel able to live up to the expectations placed upon me.”
“I would like to learn how to better manage conflict.”
By being willing to show vulnerability and fallibility, you will hopefully encourage your partner to drop their guard slightly too.
A good counselor can then carefully and calmly explore the issues – not just the blame – and help you work on them.
6. Consider separate counselling too.
If it is feasible, it might be worth looking into individual counselling to help you both come to terms with the relationship and your own issues.
Your spouse might feel more able to explore their tendency to blame others (i.e. you) with a mental health professional than with you or a couples therapist.
And you might also benefit from some form of therapy in terms of your assertiveness, boundary setting, self-confidence, or anything else.
It might certainly help persuade them to seek help if you are doing the same. They won’t feel like it is only they who needs to make changes – thus avoiding inferring that they are to blame.
7. Show them respect and regain their respect.
Respect is essential in any relationship, and by blaming you for everything, your partner is failing to show you any.
But that’s no reason to stop respecting them in return. That sort of tit-for-tat mindset only leads to greater conflict and ill-feeling.
By continuing to treat your spouse with respect, you are showing them the type of person you are. You are not stooping to their level.
And, in fact, being respectful toward them can earn you their respect in return.
It’s one of several ways in which you can win back the respect you once had from them.
To learn some more ways, read our article: How To Get People To Respect You: 7 No Nonsense Tips That Actually Work
8. Recognize the signs of emotional abuse.
Persistent blaming of a partner is one sign of emotional abuse, but it’s far from the most harmful.
It is worth looking for the other potential signs that indicate a more serious case of abuse.
Rather than list them here, we recommend you read this article on Medical News Today which discusses all of the major indicators.
Where emotional abuse is present in its many different forms, you have to be honest with yourself about whether this marriage is worth fighting for. Set boundaries.
As seriously as you may take your wedding vows, there are circumstances in which separation and then divorce are justified and reasonable.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Should I just say nothing when they blame me?
You might be tempted to just stay quiet when your spouse blames you for everything, but the message you send by doing this is that you are okay with being blamed. This will only reinforce their behavior and make it more frequent.
You should be able to say, in a calm and neutral voice, that you do not accept responsibility for all the problems they are trying to blame you for (assuming it was in no way your fault).
By using this approach consistently, you teach your spouse that you are not prepared to sit back and let them take their issues out on you.
Keep your statement short but unequivocal, such as, “I am not willing to accept responsibility for that.” Then, if possible, leave the situation in a calm way – walk off, don’t storm off.
A word of caution: if your partner is physically abusive toward you, standing up for yourself like this can lead to further physical harm. The best thing you can do in such a situation is to find a way to safely leave that toxic relationship for good.
How can I tell when something really is my fault?
When your partner blames you for everything, it can be difficult to assess what is and what is not your fault. You should be willing to accept some responsibility for things that you had a level of influence over, but you can’t do that if you’re confused by your partner’s comments.
This is important, because whilst taking responsibility is a good thing, taking all the accountability all of the time will harm your mental well-being in the long run. You definitely should not be apologizing for things that you weren’t to blame for.
The key is to look at the situation rationally and work out the flow of cause and effect. What is your partner blaming you for (the effect)? What are the circumstances that led to that thing (the cause)? Were you involved in those? Did you have a hand in anything that might be considered a cause?
Here’s an example:
Your spouse asks you to pick up some milk on your way home from work, but you forget. When they reach for the bottle for their morning cereal and find it’s not there, you should be willing to apologize. (Yes, they could have bought the milk themselves, but that’s another matter.)
Alternatively, your spouse uses the last of the milk and then gets angry when they need some more at a later point in time and there is none. But they didn’t tell you that they finished up the milk and simply expected you to know that you needed more.
You may or may not have been aware that you were running low on milk, but unless fridge stock control is explicitly set out as one of your duties, you shouldn’t feel responsible for not buying more.
If you are aware that some of the blame is on you, and you apologize for your role, you shouldn’t then have to endure further comment about how useless you are. You have said sorry and your partner should accept that and move on. If they keep going on about it, you’re getting into verbal and emotional abuse territory.
My spouse is a hypocrite and blames me for things they also do. What should I do?
It’s amazing how some people can turn a blind eye to the things they do and then scold others for precisely the same things. This is bad behavior and hypocritical and should not be tolerated.
This often happens when that thing creates a problem for them. For example, if they don’t tidy up the kitchen after making a sandwich, it doesn’t really impact them – they have their food and can enjoy it.
If you don’t tidy up the kitchen after breakfast, however, they may then have to clean up after you before they can make their lunch.
You both neglect to clean up after yourselves, but they don’t suffer any negative consequences for their behavior whereas they do for yours. It’s the same lapse of tidiness, but they blame you because they were inconvenienced.
It can be difficult to make your case in these circumstances. They will get defensive if you point out to them that they are guilty of the same transgressions as you are.
Often, the two incidents will happen at different times and this makes it difficult for you to give clear examples of them doing the precise thing that they are now having a go at you for. They might accuse you of making things up to wriggle out of it.
To tackle this, you should first be sure that if something your spouse does annoys you, you don’t then do it yourself. Don’t give them any ammunition with which to fight back.
Then, when they do that thing, be sure to communicate how it makes you feel. Ask them not to do it (if that’s a reasonable request to make), and suggest that you make a list of house rules to direct both of your behaviors.
To elaborate on the untidy kitchen example, you could just say, “I get frustrated when I want to use the kitchen but the counters are messy. I guess you probably do too. Why don’t we both make an effort to tidy up after ourselves?”
Be prepared for them to retaliate by mentioning something that you do that annoys them – whether it is similar or not. Perhaps they accuse you of leaving your snack wrappers in the car. If they have a valid point, be sure to accept that with grace and suggest that you add that to the house rules list too.
It’s all about leading the way with your own behavior and trying to bring them along with you to ensure that whatever the thing is that they are currently being hypocritical about is no longer an issue that either of you can bring up.
What should I do if my spouse’s blame is caused by mental health problems?
You probably know that your partner’s mental health issues are best approached with care, consideration, and understanding.
But that doesn’t mean you should roll over and allow them to continue to blame you rather than risk upsetting them further by standing your ground.
They may well have suffered in the past and still be suffering now – and that’s totally okay – but it’s on them if they take their issues out on you.
It is their own accountability and they shouldn’t be using their issues as an excuse to treat you poorly.
Your spouse needs to get help. And it is they who will have to take those steps, with your support, of course. If they are already getting help, they need to stick with it and follow the advice they are given, or the medication they are prescribed.
What you have to be careful of is that you don’t enable them to avoid addressing their issues by accepting poor treatment from them.
If you don’t speak up for yourself and let your partner know that the blame game they are playing is unacceptable, there’s a good chance they won’t ever see the need to seek the kind of help that could improve their mental well-being.
Whilst mental health concerns may be a reason why your spouse blames you, they are not an excuse. You can be loyal to your spouse only up to a point.
If they continue to treat you poorly and refuse to seek help, you might have to end the relationship and love them from afar.
You should never allow your partner’s mental health problems to become the catalyst for your own mental health problems, which they might be if you take their blame and abuse lying down.
You have to put your own welfare ahead of theirs when push comes to shove.
If this article helped, you’ll definitely want to read these ones too:
- 5 Reasons Why People Blame Others (+ How To Stop It)
- Why Some People Never Apologize Or Admit They Are Wrong (And How To Deal With Them)
- 25 No Nonsense Signs Your Husband Just Doesn’t Love You Anymore
- 16 Ways To Get Your Marriage Back On Track
- If You’re Married And Lonely, Here’s What You Need To Do