“With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.” Eleanor Roosevelt
I typically see two different perspectives from women in troubled relationships:
- Either they completely blame their partner for all the problems
- They feel like it’s all their fault, and they take responsibility for everything
The women who blame:
It’s not that they’re bad people, it’s just that they’ve really gone through a lot of horrible experiences over the years that have caused a complete disconnect from their spouse.
- What’s interesting is that these are the women who feel most guilty when they’re considering leaving their marriage, when all of a sudden, their spouse does a complete 180 degree turn, and starts to behave like a human being who values his marriage.
The women who take too much responsibility:
These are the women who take responsibility, not just for themselves, but for their husband, their kids, their mother, their peers at work…you get the point. They automatically assume that everything is somehow their fault.
- These are the women who remain stuck the longest in indecision and beat themselves up for wanting better or more for themselves.
We gravitate towards the concepts that are at the opposite ends of the extremes because they’re easy to understand. But health never resides in the extremes; it always resides somewhere in the middle.
Here’s what this means:
Do you have to take responsibility for your part in where this relationship is right now? Yes.
- That’s the healthiest thing for you to do in order to grow beyond where you are today.
- Once you can see how you played a part in how your marriage got to this place, you can create a different kind of relationship in the future – whether that’s with your current partner or some person to be named later.
Do you have to take responsibility for your partner’s role in where this relationship is right now? Nope. Nope. Nope.
- That’s when we are over-taking responsibility.
- It’s a sign of co-dependency because he doesn’t have to function and be held accountable for his choices and actions; he doesn’t have to because he and you both know you will do that for him.
Nothing has changed my life more significantly than learning how to take responsibility for my choices. But because women are natural nurturers and care-takers, they will often over-take responsibility for something that isn’t theirs to carry.
For example, if your spouse has been emotionally and verbally abusing you for years, that abuse is not yours to carry. You might be able to gently see why and how you stayed in that marriage as long as you did – keeping you or your kids safe, financial fears, etc.
But that doesn’t mean you deserved that abuse, and it doesn’t make abuse okay…in any of its forms.
I am a fan of owning your shit because it is the quickest path to feeling more powerful in your own life (plus….it’s just truth).
But I am not a fan of over-taking responsibility, and pretending that you are responsible for someone else’s choices, actions, feelings and behaviors.
Health always resides somewhere in the middle.
Own what’s yours.
Ditch what isn’t.
Need help deciphering where your responsibility ends and your spouses’ begins? Trying to figure out how to move forward (or how to navigate ending the marriage as peacefully and lovingly as possible). I’m right here.