Have you ever played Jenga?  It’s that game with wooden pieces that sort of stack on top of one another, and players have to remove pieces from it without toppling the structure.  (I’d post a picture, but I hate the whole making sure I’ve credited everyone possible for the use of the image, and it always takes be far longer than it should to repost anything- perhaps I should take a WordPress class now that I appear to take classes all the time)

But anyway-

I always think about relationships like they are Jenga games:  a whole bunch of blocks that make up a sound structure.  Each block represents a piece of a relationship- when you begin a relationship, you have all 100 pieces and the combined unit is strong.  In the beginning, everything is wonderful, and the relationship is solid and will not fall apart.

But as time goes on, things happen in the relationship.  Fights, arguments, whatever.  And each time one of these things happen, the blocks loosen up a little, the foundation of your relationship is a little less strong.  You still have 100 pieces. but 5 or 6 have loosened up.  We know this is going to happen- no two people are perfect together all the time.

Now, sometimes, there are big problems in a relationship.  Say, someone cheats.  Well, that might knock out one or two blocks entirely.  And they might be blocks from the bottom, the foundation so to speak.  A relationship might not be able to stand strong and tall if this were to happen.  But it all depends on the people involved in the relationship- how much the cheating affects it.  Maybe a child becomes ill- though no one has done anything wrong, this can shake even the most stable of partnerships.  Blocks may fall out.

Now- I’ve spoken about the big things- obviously, the larger the issue, the worse it threatens a relationship- that’s logical.

But what about the small things- those little every day annoyances?  If something small happens enough, can it knock out a block from the bottom? Or lots of blocks?  Can small things crumble a relationship as effectively as large things?

Now- lets bring this into context.  Last night the Husband and I were going to see our neighbor in a one man show (my neighbor used to be an actor, and is trying to get back into it- he’s in his early 60’s- so I am in awe of his courage- and his talent, but that’s another thing)  The show was taking place in a theater literally down the block from us, in a theater that has two performance spaces.  To confuse you a bit further, we also have another theater, one street over and down the block, this building containing 3 performance spaces.  Are you confused yet?  Cause Husband was.

Let’s add on, that Husband had a lousy day at work- so much so that he was going to be late to the show.  I text him that his ticket is at Will Call, it’s in the space known as The Underground, and I’m sitting last row, far left.  I set my phone to silent and put it in my bag.

You know that Husband went to the wrong theater.  He wandered around the wrong performance space, tried to reach me on my hidden phone…..

This added another layer to his already crappy day.

But who is to blame for him going to the wrong theater?

In my mind, it was just an  unfortunate situation.  I know I had said the name of the theater to him the evening before (seriously- it’s me- you know I went over this with him) Plus, The Underground is a theater that we have been to before, so my writing it in the text served as a reminder.  (and you know- he could probably google The Undergound in 5 seconds……)

He blamed me.  It was all my fault.

This wasn’t a situation worth engaging in, because I knew his whole day was rough.  I wasn’t going to play into the who did what wrong game.  I let it go.  In this situation, I felt it was the right course of action.

But- my husband is a blamer.  It’s not his fault entirely- he comes from a long line of blamers.  In his family dynamic, every time something goes wrong it is someone else’s fault.  That’s their MO- they don’t take personal responsibility.

Now- we’re going to swing it back to the Jenga analogy.  Though Husband is a generally good guy, he has this one little peccadillo.  And though it appears small, if you add up all the times he has shifted blame to someone other than himself…..

How many times does he have to do this before it takes a block out right from the bottom?

So here’s todays unwanted advice- be mindful of the little things in a relationship, the things you brush aside because they are not worth the argument.  Though, they might not be worth an argument, they probably should be talked about openly and honestly.  And if you can’t discuss something like this, maybe there are greater problems in the relationship that need to be addressed.

 

 

 

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58 thoughts on “Relationship Jenga

  1. Oh geez, the whole “taking responsibility” thing. That was a major Jenga block crashing from my tower and helping to become another addition to my divorce. I take responsibility for actually allowing the not-taking-of-responsibility by my ex-husband in many ways, so if I was to do it again, that topic would be one addressed head-on and early, and often if needed.

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    1. My husband is good about so many things, except admitting he’s wrong or misdirected. But seriously….his parents…..I try to teach my kid to be responsible and take responsibility and not blame others….I can only hope it works! But….you do the best you can….sometimes you can’t a habit that’s ingrained!

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  2. What a great way of putting it. I understand the blame thing. My husbnd is like that too. You’re right. Somethings just aren’t worth fighting over but you still need to talk about them otherwise your blocks are going to shift.

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  3. Great insights. We’ve been juggling more than our share of Jenga blocks this year. Couple his stressful job with his perception of me as something of a freeloader (not totally a false perception—I’m no longer working full time) and we’ve had some real weird setbacks lately. I walk a tightrope many days. It’s stressful.

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  4. I’m sorry about the fight, and think it was kind of you to let it go. And yeah, absolutely, the little things can grind.

    That said, I don’t think that the start of a relationship is the best it’s ever going to be. I feel like as they go on, you can add more blocks, you don’t just take them away.

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  5. I like this analogy as well, but I’m going to defend Husband. A few months ago, I was at a running race and couldn’t find my husband for TWO HOURS after it. He didn’t have his phone and was happy as a clam drinking with his friends while I was searching high and low for him. I’ve never felt more frustrated or angry with him. It doesn’t matter how long you’re married, these things will happen. It’s best to just it go and realize you’re dealing with a blamer.

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  6. Great reminder… someone else used a jenga analogy in a book recently and I literally laughed aloud. Just like this time… sorry! Oh, blame is hard. I always take 49.9999%. At least then I can say I am wrong, but not as wrong as the other person. Ha!!!! 🙂

    BTW, I hope you didn’t take any offense to the way I incorporated you into my 365 post day. LOL I’m in trouble now.

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  7. Great post. You and I had the same kind of sucky day. I think the hubs might be twins, at least when it comes to shifting blame. Ugh! Ironically, I was just writing this morning about something very similar to this in my Patriarch III segment. Compromise vs submission. Sometimes they look a lot alike, but all the while it’s like laying land mines all over the relationship.

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    1. I am just getting through my reading…busy day!! There are so many pitfalls in relationships….but I like the compromise v submission angle…..very interesting….. and the shift blame thing kills me!! Id say it was Neanderthal but that’s degrading to neanderthals

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  8. I wonder if it’s a man thing… they may have more of a need to appear strong, correct, and in charge. I don’t hear “I’m sorry” from my husband very often (which is frustrating), but I do often see a change in his actions, which lets me know he heard me and is willing to adjust. Love your jenga analogy, although in relationships, blocks can be added too.

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  9. But- my husband is a blamer.  It’s not his fault entirely- he comes from a long line of blamers.  In his family dynamic, every time something goes wrong it is someone else’s fault.  That’s their MO- they don’t take personal responsibility.

    Love this bit. For me a red flag is someone who refuses to be accountable and always blames someone or something else. I have zero tolerance for this level of immaturity. If someone is incapable of honest self reflection and insists that everything that ever goes wrong (on the macro as well as the micro level) is not his fault then I’m out. I put up with this shit for 20+ years and never again. And I totally agree that it undermines the strength of the relationship – little things can have BIG roots! Thanks for sharing and I’m glad I found your blog! (Through Bone & Silver)

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  10. Loved this! One, because although my husband isn’t actually a blamer, he is a competitive person and sometimes he competes with me. You can imagine how much fun it is to have someone who’s always better than you sharing your home. I know he doens’t meant it, but sometimes it bothers me and then I have to tell him to knock it off. Because you’re right, it’s the little things that can wear down a relationship over time.
    And I think the older we get, the more we have to be careful of how we treat our significant others. It’s odd, but I know lots of couples in their fifties and sixties who get divorced, and no one saw it coming. If you ask me, it’s probably that those little things just eroded the relationship.

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    1. I know what you mean about couples in their 50s and 60s…..and that’s exactly it….the little things wear away the relationship! Relationships are hard…..sometimes I don’t think people realize how hard normal daily interaction can be. It all comes down to communication….I guess like everything else, communication is key….

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      1. I really think it is. I have learned to speak up when something bothers me, and to listen attentively and try to understand when he tells me how something I do bothers him. I think the key is to want to make the relationship work, and to keep honest communication going, always.

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  11. Yes, the little things can erode a relationship and that’s why communication is so important. Also, when we know we have character flaws it behooves us to acknowledge them and make adjustments. Usually pride or lack of humility gets in the way. If we can learn to own up to our wrong behaviors, work on them and not be hesitant to say I’m sorry, I think those jenga pieces can be put back in place when they’ve come out.

    Nice post.

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  12. Some people just can’t take responsibility for their own actions, and not all these people are men. 🙂

    I noticed it happen with our kids – something they seemed to pick up at school. Fortunately we managed to stop it taking root. I associate it with people who are afraid to take risks because they are afraid of being wrong (if that makes sense).

    As for communication – I’m not sure it’s always a good thing. There are some things a wife doesn’t need to know.

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