Resentment in marriage is dangerous. Knowing how to deal with it might just be the difference between a happy relationship and one that ends. Resentment festers, not only building a wall between you and your loved one, but it can even grow to drive you increasingly further apart. Here’s an exploration of how to, and how not to, deal with resentment in marriage before it grows out of control.
One of the hardest parts for some couples is how to move beyond hurts from the past. Sometimes old wounds just sit and fester and stay thick as concrete between two people. These couples still talk around the concrete wall. There is conversation, but in most cases there is almost never a close connection. There’s too much pain from the past clouding any attempt to move forward, even though the desire for more closeness is there.
Resentment in Marriage is a Wall Between You
This situation often brings couples into therapy. They hunger for a time when they felt close to their partner. They want to go back there. They want it good again. Only there’s this stuff that sits between them and they don’t know what to do about it.
The “stuff” is often made up of some wrong doing and unresolved feelings. One person did something, the other person feels one way, and the person who committed the bad act feels a different way. Both feel wronged. Both feel misunderstood. Both feel as if it’s the other’s duty to make things better.
Setting “Conditions” Impedes Dealing with Resentment in Marriage
During counseling I sometimes hear, “If she would only do the following” Or “If I just saw him do such and such…then I would know that he/she loves me again.”
These are conditions, conditions that the mind develops when we are bruised. They make us feel better. When we get our feelings hurt and we feel deep pain that we believe the other caused instead of addressing this pain and getting the pain resolved or eased what people often do is create some conditions for healing that makes sense to the mind but in reality keeps the person prisoner.
Dealing with Resentment in Marriage Isn’t About Revenge
People sometimes think, if these conditions were just met then I would feel better. If he/she would just do these simple things then I would know that he/she still loved me and is willing to make things better for me.
Sometimes these conditions are meant to punish the other. This can happen when one partner is deeply wounded. If the other suffers than at least she/he will know what it feels like. It’s a subtle form of revenge disguised as constructive. This situation keeps the couple locked in a negative pattern of interaction that leaves little room for the deep honest connection both are hungry to attain.
Reestablishing Trust is Critical to Dealing with Resentment in Marriage
So, what does it take to move beyond resentment or hopes that the other will be different? It takes the ability to risk. Couples have to risk the possibility of being hurt again. Each partner has to decide they want something more than what they have right now and they are willing to take a chance, to be vulnerable again to get it. They have to believe their partner will be able to deliver the feelings they remember receiving from them in the past. But if a person’s heart is too bruised he or she may not be able to let the partner in, and that will keep the negative patterns in place.
So the question for couples that want to move closer is to ask themselves, “Can I trust my partner even though I feel he takes me for granted.” “Can I put my disappointments aside even though I am still waiting to see her make changes?”
How to Resolve Resentment in Marriage & Relationships
Resolving resentment in marriage takes wanting and believing in something new, not something you already think.
If there is repair work to finish that can be worked on as well. And maybe that’s the place to start. Discover what sits between you and your partner. Find out if there is any unfinished business that he or she is holding on to. Take a bold step and ask you partner if there is anything that you may have done that hurt their feelings? Listen without defending your actions. Just listen. Hear what your partner is saying. Hear their hurt feelings. See if you can find compassion for your partner. Tell them you are sorry for causing any pain.
If you can do this, and your partner accepts, you have just repaired.
The repair work is healing work. It also brings you closer and tears down the walls. And if you are in connection with healing work, you have just moved past resentment.
Improve Your Communication in Marriage
Read a Book About Overcoming Resentment in Marriage
Can’t make it on Monday? Learn about how communicating differently can aid resolving resentment in marriage , by reading Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It might just help you get a better understanding of resentment in marriage and how to deal with it. Give it a read.
Get Couples Counseling
Come in for couples counseling. Get a helping hand with identifying the source of resentment and with resolving that resentment so you can return to uninhibited love.