Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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:

Advertising

  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.

Advertising

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

More by this author

Carol Morgan

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

How to Deal With an Emotionally Unstable Partner How to Handle Emotional Blackmail in a Relationship What To Do If You Think Your Husband Hates You How to Stop Resentment from Ruining Your Marriage The 10 Stages of a Relationship That Every Couple Should Understand

Trending in Relationships

1 How to Stop Nagging And Communicate With Your Partner Better 2 How to Deal With an Emotionally Unstable Partner 3 How to Love Someone in the Way They Need 4 How to Handle Emotional Blackmail in a Relationship 5 6 Reasons Why You Should Not Give Up on Love

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

Advertising

Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

Advertising

4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

Advertising

Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

Advertising

Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

Read Next