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Dr. Bill Austin

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Professional Columns -
Relationships by Dr. Bill Austin


Whenever you cannot find something around the house, does your partner say, "You had it last. I gave it to you." There is tremendous frustration as you frantically search for the missing item. Not only are you feeling frustrated, but you are also angry with your partner because it seems it's always your fault.

Even in the Bible, we read how blame is shifted from Eve to Adam and from Adam to God. It is like Adam is saying, "I would not have eaten the forbidden fruit if it had not been for that woman you put in the garden!" Blaming has been used as a defense mechanism for a long time.

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Often our immediate response to conflict in relationships is to blame the other person. This is true for groups as well as individuals. In today's world, we seem to find it difficult to take responsibility for the wrongs we have committed. It is always someone else's fault. If we do confess, we will defend ourselves by saying someone caused us to do it.

Some of us get struck in our growth as a person because we excuse the way we are by blaming other people, such as our parents. There is a difference between holding people accountable for their actions and blaming them for how you feel. Blaming is used by some of us as a way of justifying the wrong we have committed or the destructive things we do.

In a relationship, the important question is always, "What part of the problem
do I own? How able am I to respond
to this problem? What do I need
to change in the way I relate?" 

There are some of us who refuse to admit our wrongs. It seems that if we admit our wrongs, it will say everything about who we are. If we take ownership for our part of the problem, we believe it means that we are a bad person. For this reason, our partner has to do all the changing and, consequently, the issue never gets resolved.

As a couple, we will not resolve or address our relationship issues until we stop blaming our partner for the problems in our relationship. We begin working through our relationship problems when each of us takes ownership for our part of the problem as well as being willing to do something about it.

In a relationship the important question is always, "What part of the problem do I own? How able am I to respond to this problem? What do I need to change in the way I relate?"

Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, said, "One can spend a lifetime assigning blame, find the cause ‘out there' for all the troubles that exist. Contrast this with the ‘responsible attitude' of confronting the situation, bad or good, and instead of asking ‘What caused the trouble? Who was to blame?' asking ‘How can I handle this present situation to make the most of it? What can I salvage here?'"

Dr. Austin has decades of experience dealing with relationships. He charges clients on a sliding scale according to their ability to pay. His first book, Creating Our Safe Place: Articles on Healthy Relationships, was published in 2004. His second book, Keeping It Safe, was published in 2009 and can be purchased through,, and at the Parrish Book Store in Virginia Beach.  He is also a sought-after speaker at meetings and seminars.

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