THE BLOG
05/23/2013 12:00 pm ET Updated Jul 22, 2013

Are You Certain That Your Divorce Is All Your Spouse's Fault?

On May 2, 2013, the story of a 5-year old boy who accidentally shot and killed his 2-year old sister with the .22-caliber rifle he got for his birthday was big news. While this was undoubtedly a tragedy, I was more troubled by the grandmother's response. She said, "It was God's will. It was her time to go, I guess. I just know she's in heaven right now and I know she's in good hands with the Lord."

We are living in a day and age in which almost nobody takes personal responsibility for their actions and behavior. How can we learn from our mistakes, if we don't even admit making any? How do we improve our circumstances, if we merely blame others for our fates? How do we solve problems, if we just point fingers? This certainly hasn't worked for our politicians, who we elect to represent our interests and solve problems on our behalf. How has it worked for you?

Do you think that a 5-year old has the maturity to own a rifle? Obviously, a 5-year old could not purchase a rifle themselves. In fact, the story mentioned that he was given the rifle as a birthday present. The boy's 2-year old sister would still be alive today had her brother not been given a rifle for his birthday. Who was responsible for giving him that rifle? Who was responsible for trying to teach a 5-year old about gun safety? Who knew about such a gift and thought it was a good idea? Who thought that giving a 5-year old a rifle was a bad idea, but failed to speak up? If the members of this family fail to take responsibility for their actions, is it likely that future tragedies will be prevented? Did they learn from their mistakes? Not if they say that "It was God's will. It was her time to go."

The status quo bias is basically that "humans have an objectively non-rational preference for the status quo." Unfortunately, the status quo bias causes people a great deal of misery.

People don't change. This is why the recidivism rate for people released from prison is so high. This is also why the divorce rate in the United States increases from 50% for first marriages, to 67% for second marriages, and to 73% for third marriages. The reason the failure rate increases is because people don't change the behavior that contributed to the prior divorce(s). Did you marry someone, expecting to "change" them after you were married? Were you too critical of your spouse, while you were still married? Were you unfaithful? Did you marry someone who you were "dating", while they were still married to their prior spouse? Did you expect your spouse to read your mind because you were not properly communicating with them? Were you accusatory or disrespectful when communicating with your spouse? Did you react to your spouse when you were angry and your judgment was therefore impaired? Did you feel compelled to always "win" arguments with your spouse? Did you listen to your spouse with an open mind, or did you jump to conclusions? Were you respectful of your spouse's opinions? Did you discuss problems and issues or just "sweep them under the rug?" Did you forgive your spouse or hold grudges? Were you insincere with your spouse? Did you raise issues long since thought to have been resolved, when arguing over something new? Did you assume that your spouse was personally attacking you because they did not agree with you? Did you and your spouse discuss your respective attitudes toward money with each other or just assume that your attitudes were identical? Did you make financial decisions without consulting with your spouse? Did you ever make your spouse beg for money? Did you and your spouse ever work out a budget together? Did you make the health of your marriage your top priority? Did you make adequate time for your spouse? Were you as concerned for and about your spouse as much as you were for yourself? Did you physically or emotionally abuse your spouse? Did you discuss your priorities and expectations with your spouse whenever they changed?

If you can think of even one positive thing that ever occurred from blaming others, please continue doing so. We can't change others, but we can change the way in which we act and react. Maybe people would benefit from accepting responsibility, instead of blaming others.

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