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How to Stop Resentment from Ruining Your Marriage

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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

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.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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