Is it all your spouse’s fault you are resentful, or is their behavior only half of the problem? We all know our spouse can do things we do not like, including not listening to us, making poor choices, ignoring our needs, not sharing in household or children responsibilities, showing unwanted stress and placing unwanted demands. When this happens, the initial reaction is usually anger or frustration. When this keeps happening over a period of time, it leads to resentment. Years of resentment lead to disconnect.
As one person put it “I used to cry and feel sad and angry, but one day I just gave up and said there is no use of this marriage”. From the outset it is easy to blame the spouse who is creating all these behaviors, but what is often forgotten is that each of us often has the power to stop the behavior. We simply do not know this or we are fearful to explore this. Finding your power takes knowing what you really want.
Often times our spouse acts in a certain way and we tolerate it. It is easy to think you are speaking up since might be fighting or raising your voice, but really saying what you need or feel is different than fighting.
There are several reasons why we may be tolerating a spouse’s hurtful behavior.
- We may think we are wrong since our spouse is telling us so.
- We may have been forced and learned to tolerate a certain level of treatment as children, and when our spouse shows this behavior if it is not as bad as our childhood, and we decide to let it go.
- Another reason may be that the behavior appears small and it may feel petty to bring it up.
- It is possible our spouse shows anger when you express your feelings.
- It is possible that you “think” your spouse will get angry if you express your feelings.
- Maybe you have no idea what you are feeling because you spend most of your time worrying about what your spouse will think.
Finding what you really need takes some patience and practice. To do this there has to be a pause between the moments you are hurt and recognizing why you are hurt. For example, if your spouse tells you that you should have done the dishes, you may begin to argue about who was supposed to do the dishes, or when the dishes needed to be done. The problem with this is it may not be what you are truly upset about. If you pause and think about what hurt you, it may be that your spouse did not greet you when they came home, or maybe the words had a blaming or impatient tone, or maybe the voice level was higher than your comfort level.
When you ignore the part that truly hurt you, you are not using your power.
The power is to figure out what hurts and to express this in a way your spouse can understand You cannot truly love while feeling resentment. It is within your power to know what you need and to ask for it, but first you have to be sure you know what you are feeling.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by Lisa Fogel