Resentment in relationships

One of the biggest causes of relationship breakdown is resentment in relationships. That bitter indignation that your partner is treating you unfairly and doesn’t notice or doesn’t care that they are doing it. The feelings of intimacy, attraction and love wither and die in the face of resentment in relationships, putting distance and coldness between the partners.

Clearing out the resentment in relationships is not an easy or a straightforward task, but where the partners are willing to come together and talk to each other about the problems the problems can be overcome given time and work.

Recognising resentment in relationships

Resentment tends to build over time. Compare that to other strong emotions like anger which flare at an event or an action. Resentment is often triggered by humiliation (or perceived humiliation) over a period of time. Perhaps you feel that your partner always belittles you or is disparaging about your efforts. When we feel that we have no opportunity to challenge this resentment builds. If your partner always runs you down while in company, you may feel powerless because social convention dictates that you do not make a scene in public. You will tend to harbour resentment.

You may have noticed some of the signs of resentment like a false front to cover your true feelings of anger, or using sarcasm or irony against your partner. Perhaps you run your partner down or get angry with them for no obvious reason. These coping mechanisms try to shut us away from the hurt of the resentment in relationships and protect us through a cynical hostile attitude.

Resolving resentment in relationships

One of the reasons we avoid talking about our concerns is that we worry about conflict. Yet to resolve the resentment in relationships we need to address the issues that are causing the problems. While the conflict may be uncomfortable in the short term, the long term benefits for the relationship are clear. If you feel it is better to have some help you could consider a relationship counsellor. They will be able to help you bring out your relationship issues. Address the issues in a productive way with your partner and help you to negotiate solutions that work for you.

It is important to understand that resolving resentment in relationships needs the full commitment of both partners. The discussion between the partners has to focus on honest and open communication. Both partners need to recognise the behaviours that are happening and causing the resentment. They must pause and really assess the impact that it has both on themselves and each other through listening and reflecting. 

Moving forward is about accepting responsibility for your actions, thoughts and feelings and communicating them to each other and agreeing how you will tackle both the current and future problems, then putting that into action.

This process to resolve resentment in relationships requires that both of you make changes in the way that your relationship works. The process often asks you to accept uncomfortable truths about yourself and each other. It may demand that you make compromises, but ultimately it offers a method for you to cut out the resentment and get your relationship back to the loving relationship that you always hoped for.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Glasgow, G46
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Written by Graeme Orr, MBACP(Accred) Counsellor
Glasgow, G46

I am an Accredited Member of BACP offering counselling on line and in person for individuals from the Southside of Glasgow. You may have a lack of confidence or be overwhelmed in dealing with your life at the moment.  You may be struggling to cope with difficult thoughts or feelings. You may fe...

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