Do you resent your partner?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Graeme Orr MBACP(Accred), UKRCP Reg. Ind. Counsellor
5th February, 20130 Comments
It’s the cancer in relationships; it’s at the top of the chart of reasons to break up. It is, of course, resentment. It builds a wall between you brick by brick, layer upon layer, until it’s a wall so high that it’s a barrier to any meaningful communication. Resentment can kill the feelings of love you have for each other. Indeed, you can end up seeing each other as the enemy.
There can be many causes of resentment in a relationship. However, they usually start with anger. It may be something that a spouse has done; flirted with another person, left laundry across the bedroom floor; it may be something that they have not done, such as helping out with the children or cooking. In essence it is an need that is unfulfilled from your point of view. While your anger and resentment may be completely justified, it is always possible (initially) that a partner may be unaware of the effect that it has on you. Of course the anger starts to become resentment if your partner dismisses your concerns and feelings or continues to ignore them. There is insufficient respect for your point of view and the communication has not worked in a meaningful way.
There is a real danger that the communication is not working and that the anger and frustration are pushed down and you no longer see your partner in quite the same light. From someone to rely on for support, you have become wary of their attitude when there is an important issue. If left unchecked it stores problems for the future potentially making you see your partner as the enemy rather than a friend.
If the relationship is to improve then something needs to be done, otherwise the cancer of resentment grows and will poison the relationship. One of the key solutions is good communication. Communication is a word often thrown about and it means different things to different people. Here we are talking about being direct, being honest about how you are feeling. We are talking about listening to the other person’s point of view and responding to it to both check and show you have understood. Often if we have been with someone for a time there can be a tendency to telepathy, by which we assume we know what they are thinking. Yet good communication demands that you check those assumptions out.
Having got the issues out on the table you can move to more practical matters about how they can be addressed. If it is housework, how can there be a more equitable division? If it is habits, how can you support each other in changing them? If there are relationship problems, can you see a counsellor to resolve them? Indeed, there may be some issues which cannot be resolved and you or your partner has to learn to accept that that is part of the person they are in the relationship with. Moving past the resentment with good communication is the key to not only feeling better yourself but in improving and strengthening your relationship. Don’t fume in silence, have an honest adult conversation with your partner and move to a solution that you can both accept.
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