5 Ways to Reduce Resentment in Your Marriage
Suppose you’ve been married a few years or even a few months. In that case, you may have noticed that there’s a subtle emotional seesaw present. Resentment toward your spouse sits on one side and compassion sits on the other. Don’t worry; it’s in all marriages, although many of us may not even recognize it. The thing is, we often don’t notice until the resentment side gets a little too heavy.
“Resentment is the persistent feeling that you’re being treated unfairly — not getting due respect, appreciation, affection, help, apology, consideration, praise, or reward,” says clinical psychologist Steven Stosny.
Resentment tends to arise in a marriage when one spouse takes advantage of their partner or takes them for granted. Often resentment can arise from minor issues that compound with time.
Common issues that lead to resentment are:
- Habitual selfish behaviors
- Prioritizing a job over the relationship
- Not being fully present when you’re with your spouse
- Expecting too much of your spouse
- Failing to celebrate your spouse
If resentment builds, it can lead to withdrawal or contempt, and we don’t want either of those present in our marriage. So, let’s try to reduce our resentment before it becomes contempt.
Reducing resentment starts with you. You may have resentment toward your spouse, and they may not even be aware of the cause. Resentment is a self-destructive habit. Your spouse may have hurt or wronged you, but the resentment has grown within you. And it feels awful.
So to reduce resentment in your marriage, let’s look in the mirror and start there.
1. Your feelings are real, so don’t deny your feelings.
You don’t have to deny that you were hurt in some way. But keeping it to yourself or burying your feelings doesn’t help you overcome them. Identify them and seek to understand where those feelings are coming from. Once you have an idea of what’s causing you to feel the way you feel, express it to your partner.
2. Write it down: how you feel, why you feel that way, your grudges, and their source.
This exercise of self-reflection can help you get to the source of your resentment. You may find that your resentment stems from an unrealistic expectation or from your perception. Now, write down why you should forgive your spouse so you can let it go.
3. Focus on your partner’s good qualities.
Remember, you married them, so there are lots of good qualities. Don’t let the mistakes that led to your resentment overshadow the positive. Choose to focus on the positive. Give grace. Don’t assume that they have hurt you intentionally. Think the best of your spouse.
4. Build a habit of compassion.
As compassion increases, resentment declines. If resentment is a habit, the only way to break it is to replace the habit with something opposite. Exercise compassion toward yourself and then toward your spouse. Have empathy; it’s where compassion begins. Empathy is trying to see a situation from another person’s point of view. Remember, there are always two sides to every story.
5. Get help from a professional (if you need it).
A counselor or therapist can help you get to the root of your resentment. If you are habitually resentful, you can reignite the compassion in your marriage with just a little help.
Choose Compassion Instead
It may not be easy, but the more compassion you have in your marriage, the less room resentment has to live. Compassion can be contagious, so the more understanding you show your spouse, the more they may offer you. Healthy relationships start with compassion, genuine care, and concern for the wellbeing of each person. If you want to reduce resentment in your marriage and help your relationship thrive, choose compassion and grace instead of resentment.
Why Compassion is One of the Most Important Qualities in a Healthy Marriage
How to Be More Compassionate to Your Spouse
Practical Ways to Practice Generosity in Marriage
In Marriage, It’s Compassion or Resentment
Dealing with Resentment in Your Marriage