The Juggling Act of Fault in a Relationship: Taking Too Much, Taking None, and Finding the Medium
In an ideal relationship, both members would take full responsibility for the whole situation. Each one would then say that that was unnecessary, and they would forgive each other implicitly. In the real world, fault is a major area of contention. Who is more at fault? Who should take more responsibility? And perhaps most importantly, do these questions address the underlying reality?
The "No Fault" Strategy
Kate Wertz is a mental therapist and couples issues. Her specialty lies in the area of relationships. She practices a "no fault" mentality, which is wonderful for open-ended 90-minute sessions of discovery and reflection. Yet, does that often carry over to the home? Wertz suggests reaching for an idealism that is always being sought after. The idealism is a pure "no fault." The fault lies in the relationship, not the individual action's.
The Fault of Pointing Fingers
Here is a perhaps extreme example to prove the overall point. A man makes a slanderous lie that erodes the relationship in a very direct way. He is directed to sleep on the couch from his girlfriend. On the surface, the fault seems to lie in the man who lied (the details are of no concern). He is clearly at fault in this intense disagreement- or is he? The woman responded reactionary. She made him sleep outside. Subsequently, the man withdraws, arrives home later than usual, and relaxes in his integrity with the relationship because of his status as a couch-sitter.
The Jungian Ideal
The actions the man may partake in from this situation can be seen as his fault, but that does not get the discussions very far. It was also the fault of the woman to kick him to the couch, and that decision spurred a slew of subsequent decisions. One can easily see how the "fault" mentality can unravel on its own weight. The Jungian therapist strategy of seeking wholeness and individuality stresses the significance of absorbing fault, and not allocating it to a partner.
The best practice is to accept that no one individual is ever at fault. A relationship is built on a series of responses that date back to the first time the pair made eye contact. All relationships are built on that arrangement, and the idea of delivering fault and pointing fingers is counter-intuitive to seeking growth and healing in a relationship. Fault is not the problem. Responsibility and respect for each other is the essential ingredient.