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16 Ways to Deal with Resentment in Marriage

Resentment in marriage is like a disease that, when unattended, it destroys every good memory and love in the marriage. Resentment often creeps into relationships unnoticed until it has caused significant damage; the earlier it is detected, the better for the marriage. Resentment brings an emotional state filled with bitterness, anger and pain. It can erode the foundation of even the strongest unions.

Resentment can lead to a breakdown in communication, trust, and intimacy. It turns a healthy relationship into a toxic one; it is a silent killer of relationships.

What is Resentment in Marriage?

Resentment in marriage is a complex emotional state characterised by feelings of anger, bitterness, and indignation towards one’s spouse. It stems from a sense of being wronged or unfairly treated, and it can develop over time due to unresolved conflicts, unmet expectations, and regular negative interactions. Resentment is dangerous and can slowly erode the foundation of a relationship if not addressed.

Resentment in marriage
Photo by Vera Arsic

 Examples of Resentment in Marriage

1. Frequent Arguments over Minor Issues

2. Emotional Withdrawal

3. Passive-Aggressive Behaviour

4. Decreased Physical Intimacy

5. Constant Criticism and Blame

6. Feeling Overburdened and Unappreciated

7. Silent Treatment

8. Withholding Affection as Punishment

9. Bringing Up Past Hurts

10. Avoiding Spending Time Together

11. Jealousy and Suspicion

12. Sabotaging Each Other’s Efforts

What are Signs of Resentment in Marriage?

Resentment in a marriage can be emotionally draining. Here are some signs that may mean there is resentment in your marriage or relationship:

1. You argue all the time

dealing with resentment in marriage christian
Image Credit: Pexels

Have you ever argued over a minor issue that can be overlooked? When little problems become big fights and arguments regularly, it may be a sign that one or both partners resent each other. When minor issues trigger significant arguments, it’s often because of deeper, unresolved feelings of bitterness.

2. You or your partner are emotionally withdrawn

Couples often find themselves withdrawing from their partner emotionally because of unresolved issues. Emotional withdrawal is a defensive mechanism for some people. Partners may pull away to protect themselves from further hurt, but this only causes negative emotional build-up, leading to resentment and bitterness in the marriage.

3. Passive-Aggressive Behaviour

Resentment often manifests as passive-aggressive behaviour. Snide comments, backhanded compliments, and deliberate procrastination are all signs that one partner harbours resentment.

4. Intimacy in the marriage reduces over time

Intimacy is very vital for a marriage to survive. Couples who experience a decline in intimacy may be dealing with resentment in the marriage. When partners no longer seek closeness, it’s often because of unresolved negative feelings.

5. Finding faults in each other and constant criticism

No one is perfect, but it is concerning when couples constantly find fault with each other. Frequent criticism can be a mask for resentment; when one partner continually finds fault with the other, it’s often a sign of deeper, unspoken issues.

Impact of Resentment on Marriage

The impact of resentment on a marriage is disastrous. Many marriages hit the rock, majorly because of resentment and unresolved conflicts; marriages where couples can find common ground rarely crumble. Resentment can affect children’s physical and mental health. It is like putting a bitter sauce into a delicious stew; it spoils the taste.

Impact of Resentment in Marriage on Physical Health

The stress associated with resentment can take a toll on physical health. Chronic stress can lead to issues such as headaches, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system.

Effect of Resentment in Marriage on Children

Children are sensitive to the emotional climate of their home. Resentment between parents can affect their well-being, leading to some of the following:

  1. Children may experience anxiety, sadness, and confusion when they sense resentment between their parents.
  2. Constant exposure to parental resentment can lead to behavioural problems such as aggression, withdrawal, or difficulty in school.
  3. Children who witness unresolved conflict and resentment may struggle to form healthy relationships in the future due to the dysfunctional patterns they observe.
  4. Continuous exposure to negative interactions can damage a child’s self-esteem, making them feel insecure and unloved.
  5. The stress from living in a tense household can manifest physically in children, leading to issues like headaches, stomach aches, and weakened immune systems.

Effect of Resentment in Marriage on Your Partner

Bitterness and resentment can affect your partner in the following ways

1. Emotional Pain

2. Decreased Trust

3. Increased Anxiety

4. Lower Self-Esteem

5. Communication Breakdown

6. Reduced Intimacy

7. Increased Conflict

8. Feelings of Isolation

9. Stress and Health Issues

10. Loss of Relationship Satisfaction

How Resentment Can Affect You?

Resentment is a negative emotion, and it has many disadvantages. If you resent your partner and do not find ways to resolve the issues quickly, the emotions also take a toll on you. Here are some disadvantages of resentment:

1. Feelings of anger, bitterness, and sadness can overwhelm and cause emotional turmoil and imbalance.

2. Having resentment puts one at risk of anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.

3. Resentment in marriage can lead to chronic stress, and chronic stress can lead to headaches, high blood pressure, and other health issues.

4. Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep due to ongoing negative emotions.

5. Persistent resentment can erode your self-confidence and self-worth.

6. Bitterness causes difficulty maintaining healthy relationships with your partner and others.

7. Emotional turmoil can affect your focus and performance at work or daily tasks.

8. Resentment can lead to withdrawing from social interactions and feeling isolated.

9. Resentment can make one develop a generally pessimistic view of life and relationships.

10. Emotions like resentment can cloud your judgment and decision-making abilities.

Causes of Resentment in Marriage

There is no smoke without a fire. People often blame the partner who resents the other; in some cases, both partners blame each other. Still, someone did something that led to resentment. Here are common causes of resentment in marriages:

1. Unresolved Conflicts

Every marriage experiences conflicts; there is no perfect individual, so couples often have conflicts. When disputes and disagreements are not adequately addressed and resolved, they can leave lasting dissatisfaction and frustration. Issues left unresolved over time can accumulate, leading to resentment. Each new conflict can trigger memories of unresolved problems, compounding the emotional burden.

2. Lack of Communication

Marriage can only survive with adequate communication. I am a firm believer in communicating effectively in marriage. Effective communication is crucial for resolving conflicts and maintaining a healthy relationship. When communication breaks down, misunderstandings and misinterpretations become more common. Partners may feel their needs and concerns need to be heard or valued, leading to frustration and isolation. Lack of communication can breed resentment as partners begin to feel disconnected.

3. Unrealistic Expectations

Everyone enters a marriage with certain expectations about their partner and the relationship. We all have fantasies and opinions about how we want our marriage to look; disappointment is inevitable when these expectations are unrealistic or not communicated. For example, one partner may expect the other to fulfil all their emotional needs, while the other may be unaware of these expectations. The resulting unmet expectations can lead to feelings of resentment and dissatisfaction.

4. Emotional Neglect

Emotional neglect happens when one partner’s emotion is emotionally disregarded, ignored, undervalued, or unappreciated by the other. It can manifest as a lack of affection, attention, or acknowledgement. The neglected partner may harbour resentment, believing their emotional needs are unmet. Emotional neglect can create a significant emotional gap between partners, further aggravating feelings of resentment.

5. Financial Stress

In my post about things lovers should discuss before marriage, I mentioned money and finance as crucial topics. Money is a common source of tension in marriages. Financial difficulties can strain relationships, especially when partners have differing spending habits, financial goals, or levels of financial responsibility. One partner may feel burdened by financial responsibilities or resentful of the other’s spending habits. This financial strain can lead to significant resentment if not addressed and managed collaboratively.

causes of Resentment in marriage
Photo by Sofia Alejandra

6. Imbalance of Responsibilities

The inability to share responsibility equally so one partner is not overburdened can cause resentment. An imbalance of duties, whether related to household chores, childcare, or financial contributions, can cause strain in a marriage. This feeling of inequality can lead to bitterness, as the overburdened partner may feel unappreciated and unsupported.

7. Lack of Appreciation

Everyone wants to feel appreciated and valued. Expressing gratitude and acknowledging each other’s efforts is essential in a marriage. When one partner feels they are not appreciated, or their contributions in the home aren’t valued, it can lead to resentment. If this persists for long, it creates a fertile ground for bitterness.

8. Unaddressed Personal Issues

Unaddressed Past issues such as traumas, insecurities, or mental health challenges can negatively affect a relationship. Personal issues can create misunderstandings and conflicts, leading to resentment if one partner feels unsupported or misunderstood.

9. Stubbornness and Inflexibility

Some issues in marriage can only be solved when one person compromises for the other. The person who compromises often does this because of their nature or love for their partner. Problems arise when one partner consistently compromises while the other is rigid. The one who compromises more may feel like they are taken for granted, leading to resentment.

When one or both partners are rigid in their beliefs and behaviours, it can lead to a standoff where neither feel heard or valued. The inability to compromise can lead to resentment, as partners may feel that their needs and opinions are consistently overlooked.

10. Infidelity and Betrayal

Infidelity and other forms of betrayal are among the most severe breaches of trust in a marriage. The emotional pain caused by betrayal can lead to deep-seated resentment and bitterness. Even after the initial shock has passed, betrayal can continue to poison the relationship, making it difficult to rebuild trust and intimacy.

How to Deal with Resentment in Marriage

Healing resentment in marriage takes determination and resilience. Here are ways to deal with bitterness and resentment in marriage:

1. Make communication a cornerstone

Marriage is renewed through constant communication. Couples must be willing to communicate and share their feeling openly without judgment. It involves creating a safe space where both can express their grievances, frustrations, and needs. Regular, constructive conversations can prevent misunderstandings and help address issues before they escalate.

2. Show empathy to your partner

Empathy is crucial in overcoming resentment. It involves understanding and validating each other’s feelings. Try to see things from your partner’s perspective, acknowledging their emotions and experiences.

Sometimes, you may feel their anger or hurt is baseless, but it doesn’t negate how they feel. Put yourself in their shoes and empathise with them. This mutual understanding can help bridge emotional gaps.

3. See a counsellor seeking professional help

Imagine resenting something your partner does that is part of them, and they may never change. Sometimes, resolving resentment requires the help of a professional. Couples therapy or counselling can provide a neutral ground where partners can explore their issues and communicate openly with the guidance of an experienced therapist. Therapists can offer tools and strategies to improve communication, resolve conflicts, and rebuild trust.

4. Set Realistic Expectations

It is important to note that no one can satisfy all our expectations or meet our needs. Partners should discuss and set realistic expectations for their relationship. This involves being clear about what each partner needs and can reasonably provide. Couples can prevent disappointment and reduce the risk of resentment by discussing and finding common ground.

5. Make it a habit to spend regular quality time with your spouse

Couples bond more when they spend quality time with each other. Engaging in fun activities or trying these cheap date ideas can help strengthen your bond and make your relationship blossom.

6. Forgive and Let Go

Forgiveness is crucial when dealing with resentment. Holding onto past grievances fuels resentment. It is vital to learn to forgive and let go of past hurts. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting or condoning the hurtful actions but instead releasing their hold on you. You are doing yourself good when you forgive and let go of the hurt.

7. Prioritise self-care and care for each other

Don’t neglect yourself because you want to care for your partner. Couples often make the mistake of caring for their partner while ignoring their own needs, which can lead to resentment. Self-care reduces stress and prevents burnout, making it easier to address relationship issues constructively.

8. Make an effort to re-establish trust in the relationship

Rebuilding trust after breaking it requires consistency, honesty, and patience. Both Partners must demonstrate reliability and openness in their actions and communication to restore confidence in their relationship.

9. Be transparent about your finances

Money is a common source of tension in marriages. Couples can prevent misunderstandings and arguments by being transparent about their finances and financial transactions. Couples should discuss their financial goals, responsibilities, and spending habits openly. Stress and resentment related to money can be overcome by collaborative financial planning.

overcome resentment in your marriage
Photo by cottonbro studio

10. Be willing to work on your relationship

A successful marriage requires continuous effort. Regularly reassessing and improving yourself can prevent issues from escalating into resentment. This includes maintaining open communication, being flexible and willing to compromise, and actively working to strengthen the emotional bond.

11. Address Personal Issues affecting your emotions

Individuals bring their issues and baggage into a marriage. It is crucial to address past problems, such as past traumas, insecurities, or mental health challenges. Personal growth and healing can positively impact the relationship, reducing the likelihood of projecting unresolved issues onto the partner.

12. Create a Conflict Resolution Plan

Developing a plan for resolving conflicts can help manage disagreements constructively. This plan might include taking breaks during heated arguments, setting rules for respectful communication, and finding mutually agreeable solutions. Having a structured approach can prevent conflicts from escalating and reduce resentment.

I know couples who agree never to sleep without solving unresolved issues. Strategies like this can help to combat resentment.

13. Express appreciation and gratitude to your partner

Everyone loves to be praised, so make it a habit to express your gratitude to your spouse regularly. Tell them how grateful you are that they are in your life. Genuinely compliment your partner with sweet words. Regularly expressing appreciation and gratitude can counter feelings of resentment.

14. Engage in Joint Activities and Goals

Marriage partnership is strengthened when couples engage in joint activities. Whether it’s a shared hobby, a fitness routine, or a financial goal, working towards something together fosters teamwork and mutual support. Doing things together can prevent the feeling of isolation and loneliness.

15. Ask how you’re doing

Prioritise regular relationship check-ins, which can help address issues before they become significant problems. Set aside time periodically to discuss the state of the relationship, express any concerns, and celebrate successes. Don’t be afraid to ask your partner what they want you to change; you must also be willing to answer the question.

16. Let go and let God

Hand over your emotions and bitterness to God and allow him to help you overcome the pain of resentment. Occupy your mind with the word of God and prayer; let God’s love pour into your heart and refill your soul.

What Does the Bible Say about Resentment in Marriage?

Bible verses to overcome negativity

The Bible offers wisdom on handling our emotions and emotional turmoil to breed healthy relationships and fellowship with each other. Resentment, a form of prolonged anger and bitterness, is addressed in various verses. The Bible emphasises forgiveness (Ephesians 4:31-32), love (1 Corinthians 13:4-7), avoiding bitterness (Hebrews 12:15), communication (James 1:19-20), humility and service (Philippians 2:3-4), bearing one another (Colossians 3:12-13) and reconciliation (Matthew 5:23-24) as critical principles to overcoming resentment.

Does Resentment Lead to Divorce?

Yes, unresolved feelings of resentment can lead to divorce. Resentment is a force that impacts the health and stability of a marriage. Over time, unresolved resentment can erode trust, intimacy, and communication between partners, potentially leading to divorce or separation.

Does Resentment Lead to Cheating or Infidelity?

Yes, feelings of resentment from either or both partners can lead to infidelity in marriage. Resentment often blinds its victims and usually leads people to do things they never planned to do. While not all individuals who experience resentment in their relationships will cheat, resentment can create an environment that makes infidelity more likely.

Can You Resent Your Partner and Still Love Them?

causes of Resentment in marriage

Yes, it is possible to resent your partner and still love them. Love and resentment, while seemingly contradictory, can coexist in a complex emotional landscape. Relationships are multifaceted, and feelings towards a partner can blend affection, frustration, admiration, and anger. Here’s how and why these emotions can coexist:

1. Human emotions are not always straightforward or mutually exclusive. You can feel deep affection for someone while harbouring frustration or bitterness towards them.
2. Resentment often comes from specific behaviours or situations rather than the overall relationship.
3. Love involves a significant emotional investment, which can make feelings of resentment more intense. The depth of your love can amplify the intensity of your resentment, but it does not mean that love is absent.
4. You might resent certain behaviours or aspects of your partner, but you still hope these issues can be resolved.
5. it’s possible to love your partner as a person while resenting specific behaviours or actions. This distinction allows you to maintain a loving connection while feeling frustrated or hurt by particular aspects of their behaviour.
6. Resentment is not always a permanent emotion. It can be a temporary reaction to specific events or situations.

Final Thoughts

There is no marriage without a storm; what is more important is how you navigate your ship in the storm. Resentment in marriage is a phase that can be overcome if both partners are willing to let go of their resentment and embrace the newness and love of God. The commitment and bond you share with your partner can help you overcome resentment and become stronger. The ability to navigate these difficulties together is a testament to the strength of your love.

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