My flight to Chicago was canceled, so I ended up flying to Milwaukee to spend the night and then to take the train the next day. This morning, I was eating breakfast at the hotel, when a woman came into the hotel in great distress. Evidently she was a guest checking out of the hotel and her husband had accidentally spilled a bag of snacks outside on the street, including a bottle of wine that was a gift. She started venting over the ineptitude of her husband, calling him “stupid” and “idiot.” When her husband came into the hotel, she continued to snap at him and call him names, reminding him of the other mistakes he made that day. The husband said nothing.
The woman probably had grounds to be upset with her husband, but I couldn’t help but think about how my parents would have handled this situation. For one, they would not have aired their grievances in such a public fashion. Moreover, while my parents have had occasion to be upset with each other, they have never insulted the other’s intelligence. On the contrary, my father frequently commends my mother for her wisdom and understanding, while my mother compliments my father’s insight and knowledge. They probably would have been annoyed by such an accident, but ultimately would not have taken it personally.
In the end, blaming the other person is satisfying in the short term but undermines the connection in the long term. The blame approach wins the argument to lose the relationship.