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Published on May 8, 2020

How to Stop Resentment from Ruining Your Marriage

How to Stop Resentment from Ruining Your Marriage

When two people meet and decide to pursue a romantic relationship with each other, they always start with high hopes. They are very happy and look at the other person through rose-colored glasses.

But as most of us know, that loving feeling doesn’t always last forever. It does for some couples, but for many, they find their relationships deteriorating through the years for a variety of reasons.

As the relationship slowly declines, what creeps in?

Resentment.

Resentment in marriage can act as a poison that can kill the love – if you let it.

But first, let’s define resentment, so we can see what it really is.

What Is Resentment?

Resentment is hurt, disappointment, anger, or any other negative emotion that persists over a period of time. It usually doesn’t go away on its own – instead, it accumulates and grows bigger.

As this resentment continues, the people in the relationship find it more difficult to express love and empathy to one another. The reason for this is because of the unheard and neglected pain they are carrying around.

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Because of this, resentment is the most toxic emotion of all in any relationship, especially marriage.

Causes of Resentment

There are many reasons that resentment in marriage can build up. Usually, it happens when one partner feels that they are more loving, attentive, and “present” in the relationship than the other.

If left unattended, it can evolve into contempt, which is when two people feel absolute disdain for one another.

Here are some common causes of resentment in marriage:

Always Needing to Be Right

When spouses see their partnership as a competitor and not a teammate, resentment will likely build up. If they are always trying to “win” an argument and be “right,” then that will cause each other resentment.

Selfishness

When one or both people only think about their own needs, the marriage does not become productive. Instead, both people need to think about their partner’s needs at least equal to, if not less than, their own.

Neglect

People often get lazy in marriages. They think, “Oh…I am married! Now I don’t have to put in any work because I already “have” them!” But that often leads to a lot of neglect – of your partner and the relationship as a whole.

Abuse

No one likes to be treated poorly, but unfortunately, it happens in too many marriages. Abuse means physical, emotional, AND mental. Whenever someone is abused, resentment is bound to grow.

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Ignoring Your Partner’s Feelings

This is closely tied to selfishness because if you were not selfish, you would pay attention to your spouse’s feelings. But if they repeatedly tell you how they feel and they get ignored, it will lead to resentment.

Cheating or Betrayal

Marriage vows include the line “forsaking all others.” So, if one spouse betrays the other in the form of cheating (either physical or emotional), then it is not surprising that the feelings toward the cheating spouse will turn negative, which certainly causes resentment in marriage.

How Does Resentment Affect a Relationship?

If resentment builds over months, years, or even decades, it can lead to withdrawing.

When one or both partners withdraw, they become emotionally and/or physically distant from one another. There can be no intimacy and love when you are moving apart instead of coming together.

Second, resentment can lead to a lot of fighting in the marriage. Conflict is normal and natural, but in healthy relationships, people can work through their problems calmly and productively. However, when there is resentment lurking between the two of you, then the fighting can get down and dirty.

Finally, resentment can also lead to abuse or neglect. As I stated above, these can also be a cause of resentment. But even if they weren’t the direct cause they can certainly be an effect as well.

What Are the Signs of Resentment?

Each marriage is different, so resentment can manifest differently for different couples. However, there are a few signs that are common to many relationships where there is a lot of resentment brewing between the people.

Here are some common signs:

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  1. Your sex life suffers
  2. Unusual distance, quietness, or tense feeling between the two of you
  3. Passive-aggressive behavior by one or both people
  4. Remarks about breaking up – whether it’s serious or in a joking manner
  5. You feel like roommates and not a married couple
  6. You don’t talk anymore or do anything fun together

How Do You Stop Resentment in Marriage?

It’s not easy to stop resentment in marriage, but it can be done. However, BOTH people need to be 100% committed to rebuilding the marriage in order for any of these tips to work.

Here are some ways to stop resentment in your marriage:

1. Don’t Hide or Deny Your Feelings.

Sometimes, people don’t even acknowledge their own feelings. They may have grown up in a family where expressing their feelings is discouraged. So, try to get in touch with how you feel so you can be clear about where you stand.

2. Express Your Feelings to Your Partner Clearly and Directly.

After you have figured out how you feel, then you need to tell your spouse. No one is a mind reader. I know that’s obvious, but some people just cannot pick up on the cues that other people give them. So, be very, very clear and direct about how you feel and what you need.

3. If You Are Holding a Grudge, Write a List of Why It’s Not Helpful.

Holding grudges is a common thing people do when they feel resentment. However, grudges have never, ever fixed any relationship. So, if you find yourself harboring your feelings, write down why doing that is NOT helpful.

4. Write Down Why You Should Forgive Your Partner.

Sometimes, resentment in marriage starts from something relatively minor. It might not feel minor, but perhaps it really is. So, it’s helpful to write it all down, and see what you can let go and what you can forgive your spouse for.

5. Don’t Bring Other People Into Your Negativity.

Many people feel the need to vent to their best friends, family, or anyone else who will listen to why they feel resentment toward their partner. But think about it – talking to other people does not solve your problem. Talk to your partner, not other people.

6. Try to Have Empathy.

Empathy is trying to see a situation from another person’s point of view. It’s a difficult thing to do under normal circumstances, but when you’re resentful, it’s even more difficult. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try. Remember that there are always two sides to every story.

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7. Focus on Your Partner’s Good Qualities.

Your spouse must have SOME good qualities, right? I mean, you did marry the person, so I assume there are things you like about them. So, instead of focusing on the things that you think are wrong with them, focus on what is good about them.

8. See a Therapist If Needed.

Many couples simply can’t get past resentment on their own. In these cases, it is very helpful to seek the help of a trained professional. Having an objective third party help you work through your problems can be the difference between saving your marriage or not.

Can Resentment Destroy a Marriage?

This is one of the most common questions, and the answer is a resounding YES.

Resentment CAN destroy a marriage. But it doesn’t have to.

If you don’t want resentment to rot your marriage from the inside out, then you must take action to try to work through it – sooner than later. The sooner you both try to sort out your feelings and change your actions for the better, the higher chance you will have of saving your marriage and becoming happy again.

More Tips for a Healthy Marriage

Featured photo credit: Omar Lopez via unsplash.com

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Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on October 5, 2020

How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

We are given life with many opportunities to make it everything we want it to be and more. If you find that you’ve slipped into living a boring life, it’s time to take a hard look at what you’ve been doing and what you can start doing now to make it more interesting.

Maybe you’ve been doing the same thing and living the same life for too long, or maybe your daily routine is limiting your growth and happiness. Whatever your reason is, the following list can definitely make any day or life more interesting. Some of them are silly, while some are more meaningful, so hopefully just reading the list makes your life less boring and sparks your creativity.

Let’s dive in the list to quit your boring life and start living an interesting (and meaningful) one!

1. Channel Your 7-Year-Old Self

Imagine being a young child. Life was never boring, was it? That’s because children harness every ounce of creativity they have in order to try new things.

What would your 7-year-old self want to do in this moment? Maybe they’d pick up a paintbrush and try to paint the landscape around them. May they would go outside and build something with random materials around the yard. Maybe they would raid the fridge and put together a dish they’ve never seen before.

Just because you’re a grown-up doesn’t mean any of this stuff will be less enjoyable than you remember it. Give yourself permission to play and use your creativity to its fullest.

2. Go Play With Kids

Speaking of little kids, if you have your own (or a niece or nephew), go play with them!

Kids are absolutely hilarious, so it’s simply impossible to be bored when you’re around them. They also keep things so simple, and we can really stand to be reminded of this and stop allowing ourselves to get bogged down in boring details.

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3. Play Cell Phone Roulette

You’ll need at least one buddy for this, but this is a great way to avoid a boring life. Scroll through the contacts in your phone, stop on a random one, and (if it feels right) call the person.

You could spark an incredible catch-up session or, at the very least, remind someone that you’re thinking of them. Neither are boring.

4. Fill out a Pack of Thank-You Cards

This is a great part of a gratitude practice. We often forget to thank the people who do things for us, especially if we have come to expect those things. For example, have you ever thought about thanking your mom for that weekly phone call? Or thanking your sister for always sending you a homemade gift on your birthday?

Take time to think of at least 5 people you would like to say thank you to and write out a card. You could even write them out for random people in your neighborhood, like the local librarian, a teacher at your child’s school, or the accountant at your bank.

Anyone and everyone appreciates being thanked for their efforts.

5. Sign up for a Class

Nowadays, there are classes for everything. To make it as interesting as possible, try finding one that you wouldn’t normally consider doing, like salsa lessons, improv, or boxing.

Otherwise, try to find a course on something you’ve always wanted to learn, like pottery, photography, or a foreign language course.

What’s good about joining an interest class is that you will also meet new people, which will add even more interest to your life!

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6. Talk to Your Grandparents About Their Lives

We often underestimate how interesting the elderly are. You can rest assured that any elderly person you talk to will not have had a boring life! Take some time to talk to them and hear their interesting stories. You may even find that this motivates you to go out and find your own interesting experiences.

7. Get up on Stage at an Open Mic Night

Whether you’re funny or not, get up on stage. If you’re not into comedy, find an open mic that focuses on reading poetry or short stories and bring your own. These groups tend to be incredibly supportive for anyone who is willing to be brave enough to get up and try.

8. Do Something for Someone Else

Showing kindness automatically makes you feel good, but doing these small acts will also help to ensure that you don’t have a boring life. Try doing one or two things each week that are outside your normal routine.

For example, you could make a batch of cookies for the mailperson or help your elderly neighbor organize one of their rooms. There are a million ways to show kindness to those around you. Tap into your creativity and find your own or use some of the ideas from the image below[1].

Do random acts of kindness to avoid living a boring life.

    9. Start a DIY Project in Your Home

    If you have your own place, there is always a project that needs to get done. Many people simply pay for someone else to do it in order to avoid the hassle, but taking on a DIY project can make a boring life much more interesting.

    It doesn’t have to be super complicated. Maybe you repaint an old vase or build a spice shelf out of used pallets.

    If you need ideas, you can also check out these 30 Awesome DIY Projects that You’ve Never Heard of.

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    10. Plan a Weekend Trip or an All-Out Vacation

    This will give you something to look forward to. One study actually found that most travelers are happiest before a vacation[2]. Therefore, simply planning a trip will boost your mood, even if you can’t actually take the vacation right now.

    Even if you don’t have the time or money to go on a vacation, plan for a staycation, which is also fun and relaxing!

    11. Go People Watching

    Find a bench in a crowded area (centers of transportation like airports, bus stops, and train stations are great for this!) and just observe[3].

    People are infinitely interesting. Try to imagine what their lives are like, what they’re thinking, or where they’re going. You’ll never know if you’re right, but it will give you something to focus on and also help you practice empathy.

    12. Eat Something You’ve Never Eaten Before

    You can try that new Moroccan restaurant down the street and pick the most interesting dish on the menu. Or, you can raid your own fridge and throw together a dish you’ve never made before.

    If you’re up for a trip to the grocery store, try picking up a new fruit or veggie from the produce section. You may find a new food that you love!

    13. Dance

    You can get your friends together for a night on the town or just pull up a video on YouTube and bust a move from your own living room.

    If you’re feeling extra brave, you can even dance in public or join a flash mob.

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    14. Pick up a Book and Start Reading

    Reading a good book can keep you occupied for hours. It will also transport you to a life that isn’t your own, and one that likely will be the opposite of a boring life. You’ll be amazed by what you can learn from those pages.

    Pick on of these inspirational books to start reading: 10 Best Inspirational Books That Can Change Your Life

    15. Spend Some Time With People You Care About

    Facebook stalking doesn’t count as real social interaction. Call up a friend you haven’t seen in a while, or bring a coffee over to your parent’s place and catch up. They’ll appreciate the gesture, and you’ll avoid boredom.

    16. Check out a Museum You’ve Never Been to

    Some people are bored by museums, so if that’s you, skip to the next one. However, if you love art, history, or culture, this one is for you!

    17. Write a List of Things You Desire and Truly Want

    This is a great way to help you figure out the real reason why you’re feeling bored about your life. Maybe you haven’t really done things that you truly enjoy? Maybe what you’ve wanted to do all the time has been left behind?

    Think about the list of things you really want to do, and ask yourself why you aren’t doing these things (yet). Then, start taking your first step to make it happen.

    Now, go make your life interesting and live your dream life!

    More on How to Quit a Boring Life

    Featured photo credit: Alex Alvarez via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] FECAVA: Random Acts of Kindness
    [2] Applied Research in Quality of Life: Vacationers Happier, but Most not Happier After a Holiday
    [3] Psychology Today: The Expert’s Guide to People Watching

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