Resentment is a powerful emotion that, if left unchecked, can destroy your marriage. From feeling like you always take care of the kids while your partner goes out, to seething over that time they let their mother take over Thanksgiving, hurts can soon build up and become black clouds that eclipse the good in your marriage.
Resentment can cloud your judgment and leave you feeling nothing but animosity towards your partner until, one day, it eats away everything good and your marriage is on the rocks. Pretty scary thought, huh? Thankfully, you don’t have to wait for resentment to work its evil on your marriage. Follow these 9 top tips to stop resentment from destroying your marriage.
1. Acknowledge your feelings
Resentment gains the most power when feelings are left to fester. Seemingly good marriages can break down thanks to years of buried hurts and resentment.
Head resentment off at the pass by acknowledging your feelings as they arise. Resist the temptation to swallow difficult feelings and hope they’ll go away – they won’t, and your marriage could suffer as a result.
Acknowledge and deal with your feelings as they happen so you can move forward.
2. Practice open communication
So much resentment comes from things unsaid. It’s easy to get into the habit of thinking that your partner should “just know” if you’re unhappy, but they’re not psychic.
Instead of letting things simmer, sit down and have a clam, respectful talk with your partner about whatever’s on your mind. Try not to blame or get angry – just state your feelings calmly and ask if you can work on things together.
3. Acknowledge your needs
Unmet needs can be a source of terrible resentment in a marriage. If you never get a moment to yourself while your partner hangs out with their friends, or you end up doing all the cleaning, you’ll soon feel resentful and put upon.
It’s time to acknowledge your needs, and talk to your partner about them. Ask them if you can negotiate swapping or sharing duties so you can each have the time you need to recharge. Tell them the areas where you need some help and support. They can’t meet your needs if you don’t tell them what they are.
4. Learn to apologize
Everyone makes errors of judgment sometimes. In any relationship both partners will make mistakes or have a bad day. It sounds counterintuitive, but learning to apologize when you’re in the wrong will stop resentment building up.
Instead of hanging on to fights or brooding over who was right, learn to acknowledge when you make a mistake or lash out at your partner. Saying sorry will clear the air, show them that you respect them, and help push resentment out the door.
5. Take responsibility
No one wants to feel at fault for things that go wrong, but it’s just a fact of life that sometimes we are at fault.
That’s not to say you should beat yourself up over it – everyone makes mistakes. But acknowledging your role in difficult situations will clear resentment and show you where you can make changes for a healthier future.
6. Have empathy towards your partner
It’s so easy to get caught up in raging against your partner, or making assumptions about their intentions.
Try to keep in mind that they’re not your enemy, though, they’re your team mate. Empathy and understanding can go a long way to dissolving resentment. Take the time to listen and understand, and then validate their feelings by letting them know “hey, I hear you.”
7. Practice forgiveness
There’s a common misconception that forgiveness means condoning bad behavior, or making yourself ok with things that hurt. However, that’s not quite true. You can acknowledge that a situation was painful, while still forgiving.
Encourage forgiveness by remembering that your partner is only human, and they’re allowed to make mistakes sometimes. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you or they’re not a good person. Don’t let past mistakes become future resentment.
8. Manage your expectations
Expectations can quickly breed resentment. If you expect that your partner will always know how you feel, always take the trash out, or always earn a certain amount of money, it’s easy to become resentful when things don’t work out that way.
Be realistic in your expectations. That doesn’t mean you have to be pessimistic; simply accept that you’re both human and things won’t always go according to plan. Prioritize empathy, love and open communication over having your partner meet your expectations.
9. Prioritize your marriage
The challenges of a busy life can soon take a toll on your marriage. Between kids, careers, in-laws and social engagements, your marriage can quickly take a back seat.
Prioritizing your marriage makes it much easier to communicate openly with your partner and make sure both your needs are being met. Set aside plenty of time for each other so you can bond, talk, and build a healthy relationship.
Resentment is a hidden marriage killer that will wreak havoc if left unchecked. Follow these simple steps to stop resentment from taking hold and keep your marriage strong.