Tackling resentment in a relationship
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Graeme Orr MBACP(Accred), UKRCP Reg. Ind. Counsellor
20th November, 20140 Comments
Resentment in relationships is like a cancer in the body, it starts small and grows and spreads until it risks the whole entity. Many of us let things pass. We don’t like conflict; we don’t want another argument, so we are not truly open with our feelings and thoughts to our partners.
You say “I’m fine”, when you actually mean “Are you home from the office late again?”. Slowly we accumulate resentment because we feel taken for granted and not cared about. Yet bringing those issues out in the open is scary, so your anxiety prevents you and each time it gets harder and the resentment gap widens.
Tackling resentment in a relationship
Given that many of us may have painted ourselves into this corner, is there a way back? Is there a way to repair our relationship and prevent resentment ruining it?
Perhaps the most obvious thing to say is that it needs a change in the way that you and your partner communicate. Resentment hides behind not being honest about your thoughts and feelings. It believes that conflict is a bad thing and should be avoided at all costs, so you push the feelings down and put up with it. In essence you are both going to have to be more open and be prepared to talk through things where you disagree.
It may be useful to start this resentment detox in a small way; baby steps not giant leaps. So you and your partner can build confidence in each other and practice being vulnerable. Tackle issues such as what to eat or who will do the chores. These are likely to be much less jugular than which in-laws we will go to for Christmas.
Remember that part of being honest about your feelings is taking responsibility for your actions both in the past and the present. If you have made a mistake apologise so that everyone can move past it. It may be that you need to hear how it affected your partner and that might be part of their healing process to get resentment out of your relationship.
It is important to be honest to express how you feel and what you think, but as in any relationship it has to be done in a respectful empathic way. Often owning the feeling, by saying how it makes you feel rather than accusing your partner will make the dialogue more productive. Don’t deny your feelings be vulnerable and talk it through.
Remember that you are aiming to have an open honest relationship dialogue with your partner. It reduces the places that resentment can hide in relationships. It is unrealistic to think that your partner will never do something that annoys, frustrates or hurts you, but you can find ways to lessen the impact by dealing with the problem at the time rather than resenting them and letting the problem fester. We can listen to our partner, we can tell them how we feel, processing to reduce the impact on our relationship using the techniques discussed above.
Perhaps you might find that you need the professional help of a counsellor, perhaps you can tackle the issues on your own. Yet however, you decide to do it you should make a decisive move to remove resentment from your relationships.
About the author
Graeme is a counsellor and author living and working on the south side of Glasgow.
In his practice he sees a number of clients with emotional, relationship and life issues that have relevance to us all. His articles are based on that experience and are offered as an opportunity to identify with, or to challenge you to make changes in your life.
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