Resentment is defined as bitter indication after THINKING you’ve been treated unfairly. This is a huge issue I see in many of my clients. In today’s episode we discuss 4 ways you can deal with resentment in your marriage and how changing your thinking is the key!
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This podcast was actually at the request of one of my listeners. Resentment is a huge issue I see in my clients, so I thought I would do a whole episode on it.
Definition of resentment: Bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly
I would add to that definition that its bitter indication after THINKING you’ve been treated unfairly.
So today I want to talk about 4 ways you can deal with resentment in your marriage. I believe these solutions can also be applied to other relationships as well.
1. Addressing Your Feelings
Sometimes people think they are falling out of love with their spouse when they are actually feeling resentment. The resentment can make you angry, withdraw, and think there are no feelings of love anymore.
To determine if you are truly feeling resentment, really take a look at your thoughts. Are your thoughts causing you to feel unappreciated, disappointed, angry, or hurt? Are there problems in the relationship that you haven’t discussed? If the answer to these questions is yes, you are probably feeling resentment.
Often resentment forms when a couple doesn’t discuss small problems. This leads to the problem festering until one or both partners are angry and full of toxic thoughts. So, to resolve this, you need to discuss the problems when they form so you can get them out in the open and work through them. If you have a hard time discussing issues, try discussing small things first, like scheduling and meals, before tackling some of your bigger issues.
Some people don’t bring up their feelings because they don’t trust that their feelings are valid. They may think they are overreacting or being too sensitive. Or they may be afraid that they will be perceived that way by their spouse. But feelings are ALWAYS valid, even negative ones like hurt, disappointment, and anger. Allow yourself to feel your feelings so that you can voice them to your partner. Your feelings are important. But also remember that your feelings come from your own thoughts. Take ownership of them and do not blame them on the situation or your partner.
Many times we avoid bringing up problems in our marriage because we don’t like conflict. We want to do anything to avoid fighting and instead we remain quiet to keep the peace. I like to call this “peacefully resentful.”
Resentment doesn’t lead to a good marriage, so a bit of uncomfortable conflict or even some angry feelings is worth getting through so that you don’t have bigger problems later on.
2. Talk about the Resentment
Part of dealing with resentment is listening to your partner’s problems and feelings. Though it may be hard to hear, take a step back and listen objectively to what they have to say. You may want to employ the empathetic listening skills we talked about in episode 27.
But listening to your partner, even if you feel resentment also, helps you work through the problems and reach a solution. Refusing to listen leads to more resentment and can eventually lead to the end of the relationship.
If you feel like you can’t talk to your partner or your partner won’t listen to you, you may want to seek a professional to help mediate. Even if your spouse won’t see someone, you can go by yourself to help you figure out how to deal with the issues in your marriage and how to better communicate. Coaching is a great option.
When communicating with your spouse, be careful to not place blame on your partner. Remember, that your feelings are coming from your thoughts and take responsibility for that. Blaming them generally leads to more problems, anger and resentment. Remember to use “I” statements when communicating.
3. Finding a Solution
Resentment happens when you don’t forgive what someone has done to do you. To help you move past the resentment, you must forgive your spouse for what they have done. This helps you both move forward and repair the damage caused by the resentment.
Forgiveness means that you acknowledge that a wrong was done, but you don’t let it control your emotions and your relationship. Sometimes we are unable to forgive because we want to feel right and be validated. But this need to be right impedes, our ability to heal and move on.
Resentment often comes when we hold on to the wrongs and keep replaying it over and over in our minds. This lets it fester and become toxic. In order to move forward, you have to let go of the destructive thoughts.
To let go, understand that it happened in the past and that the only reason it is hurting now is because of how your are choosing to think about it that way in the present. You can choose to think differently.
Also understand that people make mistakes. We are all human and we all deserve compassion for being human. You can’t control what others do, but you can control how you choose to think and feel about what they have done.
Letting go of the resentment allow you to heal, which is the healthiest thing for YOU and your marriage. You can do this by changing your thoughts about what has happened.
When you sit down and discuss your resentment with your spouse, you should come up with ways to solve the problem, or change the behavior. Or better yet, change the way you are choosing to think about it.
Resentment is one thing that I have personally really struggled with. Not necessarily in my marriage, but in my family. I am the oldest child and I tend to be a people pleaser in that role. I’m not really like that in other areas of my life, but I am in my family. In the past I have kept my mouth shut in order to keep the peace and then I’m resentful later on.
Let me give you an example – So when Kevin and I were getting sealed in the temple, I really wanted to get sealed on our 1-year anniversary. My sister lives in another state and she basically said, that date didn’t work for her and if I wanted her there then it needed to be on such and such date. Well for years I resented her that she wouldn’t change her plans and be her on the date that I wanted for my special day. I held onto that resentment for so long. But, as I’ve worked through a lot of my resentment issues in coaching, I’ve changed the way I think about it. Yes, she did say that, and I wish that she would have realized how important it was to me, but ultimately I made the decision to change the date because I wanted her there. I took responsibility for my thoughts and feelings instead of blaming it on her. Now the resentment is gone and I no longer have bad feelings towards her because of it.
Now getting back to discussing resentment in marriage, it’s important that while you are dealing with the resentment, don’t shut each other out. You may still be hurt, but if you don’t connect in other ways (emotionally and physically) the resentment will continue to build. But being purposeful in connecting with each other, even if you are still working through issues, really helps you build a better connection and rebuild the relationship.
Things that lead to resentment are usually small things that can be dealt with easily. Once you have dealt with past resentment, don’t let it happen again. Share your problems, hurts, concerns with each other. This allows you to deal with it while it is small and before it grows and festers.
Make sure that your marriage is a priority. Spend time together, even when life gets hectic with kids and careers. Take a few minutes each day talking to one another and connecting.
And moving forward, figure out the things that cause you to start feeling resentment. Once identified, you can acknowledge your thoughts and feelings more easily and let them go.
There are three issues I hear the most from my clients that cause resentment in their marriages
- Not getting enough help from their spouse. They feel overwhelmed with everything they have on their plate and need more help. To resolve this, ASK FOR HELP! Do not expect that your spouse knows exactly what you need and can read your mind. Be specific. Talk about it. Communicate your wants and needs. Remember that marriage is often a negotiation, so you need to make sure you are voicing your wants and needs and taking into consideration your spouses wants and needs and finding a balance and a compromise that works for both of you.
- Feeling that their spouse spends time doing things for themself instead of being with the family. I hear this a lot with husbands playing video games or watching sports. You need to voice your concerns but also understand that sometimes your spouse needs their “me” time just like you do, but it may look different than yours. So again, communicate and negotiate.
- Sex. They resent that their husbands want sex all the time when they don’t feel like it. I hear them saying that they interpret everything through this lens of their spouse wanting sex all the time. And they just aren’t in the mood or they are tired and touched out. So if this is you, I would recommend you listen to last week’s episode of how thoughts like that are killing your sex drive. And I would really encourage you to reframe how you are looking at sex. You are looking at it as a way to satisfy your husband and constantly meet their needs. What if it was a way of meeting your needs? What if it was about you and not him? If it’s about you then you won’t resent him for wanting to be with you. Just another way of looking at it. Again, communicate and negotiate.
If you are struggling with resentment and want more help, sign up for a mini-session and let’s work through it together!