It can be hard to give up resentment to save your marriage. It may mean you have to consider forgiveness or taking responsibility for your own happiness, or having faith that things can change. But resentment deteriorates relationships. Here’s how it works:
A husband becomes resentful of his wife because she insists on moving to a town closer to her family, away from where he can earn good money. He doesn’t really speak up and share his concerns. He feels trapped because he doesn’t want to get divorced and he wants to make her happy. He starts to feel like she's selfish for not seeing how hard the move would be on him. Over time he stops responding to her emotional needs. She then stops being responsive to sexual advances. He feels lonely. She feels lonely.
Sound familiar? It’s easy to see how resentment can develop, especially with our close, intimate partners. These are the people we trust and rely on the most. When they hurt us, usually unintentionally, we suddenly feel vulnerable. Can we trust and rely on them? Will they do it again? Will things ever be different and will I always hurt like this?
Vulnerability often makes us feel powerless and it’s this sense of powerlessness that leads to resentment. Out of this resentment (consciously or unconsciously), we withhold affection, sex, our time, devotion, sharing our feelings, appreciation, forgiveness and a willingness to respond to our partner’s needs. Resentment fuels our anger, bitterness and disconnect. Relationships begin to break down.
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What does it take to give up resentment?
1) Take responsibility for your choices;
2) Consider being giving, loving and vulnerable beyond what you think is possible;
3) Balance this with doing what you know is right for yourself; and finally
4) Consider if the person were gone-- dead or left you-- how much would your resentment matter?
If you're struggling to let go of resentment, consider getting help. Resentment kills off love over time and the damage of disconnection begins to become difficult to bounce back from.
Examples on How to Respond in the Above Situation:
a. Say something like (and follow through with whatever actions are necessary), “Honey, we cannot move unless I find a way to earn good money.. I’m concerned about the impact. I worry about not being able to provide and not feeling successful. If we do this, this (x, y, z) is what may happen. What do you think about that? Are you willing to wait until I can find a way to make it work? Is there a compromise you’re willing to make?
b. See if it’s possible to release your current concerns and see the bigger picture or positive context. How will this move benefit us? What are we gaining if we move? How can I make up for the difference in income with quality of life?
c. If you know it absolutely won’t work for you, you must consider either the cost to your own sense of self/well-being and weigh it with the cost of losing your partner/relationship. At the end of the day, while a difficult decision, you must weigh what is more important.