Ending the Whack-a-Mole Game in Marriage

Do you remember the Whack-a-Mole game from the carnival? This is the game where you try to knock down the pop up “mole,” only to realize as soon as you’ve knocked one down, another pops up.

While entertaining at the Carnival, it’s no fun in marriage. It goes like this: You confront your spouse about something you don’t like, and they offer a round of excuses. Exasperated, you try various maneuvers to get them to take responsibility, but they are always able to stay one step ahead of you. You finally blow up, shut up or give up, as you build up a strong dose of resentment.

A couple I worked with recently sounded like this:

Woman: “Why did you spend more than we had in the checking account, giving us an overdraft?”
Man: “I didn’t know I was spending too much.”
Woman: “But, you were the one telling me yesterday that we didn’t have any money left to spend this week.”
Man: “Yes, but I thought we might have a few dollars left.”
Woman: “Did you check to see how much we had left?”
Man: “No, I didn’t have time to.”
Woman: “You didn’t have time to check in the checkbook?”
Man: “Well, I guess I had time, but forgot to look?”
Woman: “So you had time, but forgot to look?”
Man: “Yeah.”
Woman: “So, you know we’re being charged thirty-five dollars for the overdraft?”
Man: “I didn’t know that!”
Woman: “But, we talked about this two weeks ago when you did it.”
Man: “We were charged thirty-five dollars?”

And so it goes. Can you feel her blood pressure rising? Can you imagine having multiple conversations like this every day? Whether you call it the Whack-a-Mole Game or The Circle Game, it’s no fun. It’s a form of crazymaking that causes endless chaos in relationships.

What can you do to end The Whack-a-Mole Game in marriage.

First, stop the chaos by putting down the mallet. In other words, stop trying to “catch him/ her” at their game. You cannot make someone take responsibility. Either they will take responsibility, or they won’t.


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