Resentment in marriage is a lonely and frustrating feeling. It can push you and your partner further and further apart until the emotional distance between you two leaves you helpless and alone. Resentment in marriage usually arises between spouses over extended periods of unmet needs, unhealed wounds, and unresolved conflicts. You may resent your spouse for a past betrayal, real or perceived inequalities within your relationship, or a lack of physical or emotional support.
These feelings tend to fester and grow over time. If left unaddressed, resentment can put your marriage at risk. This is why it’s important to deal with feelings of resentment directly and learn to communicate more effectively. By learning a few key communication techniques, you can reverse the long-standing negative patterns and heal your relationship.
Communication Is Key In Healing Resentment
Resentment in your marriage can build up over time if one or both spouses don’t communicate effectively. Usually it’s the result of something that needs attention and repair but which hasn’t been fixed despite attempts to do so. Maybe one partner wasn’t open to it, or feelings weren’t communicated well. Resentment builds over time if one partner expects the other one to read their mind instead of being asked or told directly and clearly. By practicing effective communication you take guesswork out of the equation and build a stronger foundation for your relationship.
Part of good communication is setting the right expectations and feeling heard. If you want to go on weekly date nights, express that desire to your spouse. If you keep your wants and needs to yourself, your spouse doesn’t stand a good chance of meeting those needs. On the other hand, if you express yourself clearly and ask for what you want, your partner will be able to respond appropriately. They may not necessarily agree, but at least you’ll be able to discuss and come to some agreement.
Venting Is The First Step In Healing
Most couples vent resentment and hope that the situation will fix itself. But venting is just the first step in the healing process. It alone won’t fix what’s broken. Venting allows you to release some tension but it’s a negative dynamic full of complaints and blame. The trick is to turn that negative into a positive with productive communication. Minimize the amount of venting and then follow it up by stating what you want and need. I often tell couples to paint a (figurative) picture for their partner of what they are looking for. This will get you on the road to healing.
Here are a couple of examples to illustrate the point:
Venting: “I’m so frustrated with you spending day and night working on your car. Who cares what kind of engine you’re rebuilding?! You’re never around to help me with the kids because of that damn car.”
Communicating: “I noticed you’ve been spending a lot of your free time working on your car. I want to spend more time with you, and I could really use some help around the house.Can you please rake the leaves Saturday morning so we can relax in a clean yard in the afternoon?
Venting: “I’m sick and tired of your job taking time away from our family. I wish you never got that promotion. You get to take clients out for fancy meals all the time while I’m at home covered in baby food, hardly able to take a 2 minute shower.”
Communicating: “I know your promotion is really great for your career but it’s taking precious time away from our family. I’d like you to find a way to organize your work schedule so that you’re home before the kid’s bedtime at least two nights a week. I could really use your help with bath and story time and the kids would love extra snuggles from Daddy.”
Notice that both examples of venting are expressions of anger and frustration. Constructive communication, on the other hand, allows you to express your needs calmly. Moreover, you can state why you need a different behavior or approach from your partner and how it can benefit you both.
Deal With One Resentment At A Time
The most efficient way to fix an issue and move forward is to only deal with one resentment at a time. Trying to fix multiple things at once creates too many distractions and competing priorities. As a result, nothing really gets fully fixed and frustrations mount even more.
Together with your spouse, agree on one issue that you’d both like to address and work on that one thing until you both feel you’ve made good progress. Some couples have a tough time picking one issue which they both want to fix. They argue about what’s more important and the discussion devolves into an airing of grievances and accusations.
Avoid this common mistake by taking turns, allowing each of you to speak one at a time and propose one issue at a time. Remember this is not a race or a contest to see which of you has been wronged more. Instead, the process is about identifying a pain point which both of you want to make better.
How A Marriage Retreat Can Help In Three Days
Sometimes getting outside help is the fastest way to get your relationship back on track. A LifeWise intensive marriage retreat, which typically lasts 3 days, will equip you and your spouse with critical communication tools and coaching which you can use long after the retreat. The crux of a 3 day program is that it’s teaching you a process and giving you a formula which you can continue to apply on your own.
If you’re not ready to commit to a retreat or would prefer to get a little taste first, consider taking an online couples course to learn about tools and techniques for effective communication. To learn more about the benefits of couples therapy retreats, click on the button below.