As Carly sat at the kitchen table staring at her husband Frank with resentment, she wondered how things would ever be right in their marriage again.
It had been years since she felt important to Frank because he was either focused on his phone watching a sports event or watching one on tv when he wasn’t working. She did all the household chores now that their kids were off to college even though she had a full-time job as well as her husband.
They rarely went out together and when they did, Frank was constantly checking scores, watching the tv or flirting with the servers at the sports bar they went to.
When she complained about his lack of help, his inattention and flirtations, he denied it and said that this was the way he dealt with work stress–and told her to get off his back.
Carly felt ignored and resented the fact that everything was left up to her to do around the house and that while he might be there in body, he certainly wasn’t there emotionally for her.
Although she loved him, she had even been thinking about leaving him if things didn’t change.
In her frustration, she had found herself being sarcastic when she talked with him and pulled away when he infrequently did try to touch her.
Carly knew if their marriage was to get better, things had to change–but she didn’t know what to do so she called us for help.
When you carry around anger, irritation and bitterness because of something your spouse said or did or even due to a situation that’s come up in your relationship, it shows.
No matter how hard you try to hide resentment or pretend that it’s not there, it will surface.
It might come through in sarcastic comments, “jokes” or in your willingness (or unwillingness) to be intimate with your partner.
Holding back, closing down and even wanting to punish him or her inevitably goes along with resentment.
After all, it’s nearly impossible to open your heart fully to your partner when you’re feeling angry and bitter about him or her.
That’s certainly not to put “blame” on you or to say that you just suck it up and be okay with whatever is going on or has gone on.
It is to say that holding onto resentment and anger damages YOU and there is an easier, more loving way to go through life.
Here are 4 ways to let go of your resentment and get back to loving…
1. Realize that carrying resentment is harmful to you as well as to your relationship.
You may feel justified to stay in a constant state of anger and irritation because of what your partner did or didn’t say or do but know that this physically takes a toll on your body, let alone the emotional toll it takes.
Take some time to look inward at how this continual state of stress is affecting you and realize that you do have a choice even though it may not look like it.
As we talked with Carly, she realized that she hadn’t focused on her but rather on how wrong her husband was.
When she stopped for a few moments to sit with herself, not focusing on her worries but on what she was feeling in her body…
She realized that she felt sluggish and seemed to have a headache and low energy most of the time.
For the first time, she wondered if this anger and stress she’d been carrying around might be part of it.
2. Resentment becomes habitual through thinking.
If resentment has become a habit for you, know that you don’t have to believe the thoughts that are keeping it going or reliving whatever experience that happened.
While thoughts come and go at will and we don’t have any control over that…
It is a choice what thoughts you will believe, focus on and live from.
In Carly’s case, she saw how preoccupied she had been about how awful things were with Frank and her work was beginning to suffer.
She hadn’t able to concentrate on projects like she used to be able to do and at times, she was more irritated with her co-workers than she had ever been.
Carly realized that her constant thinking about all of Frank’s shortcomings and her expectations were playing havoc with not only her relationship with him but also her entire life.
Through our suggestions, she played with really being present wherever she was and whoever she was with.
As she experimented with being present, she saw how much her constant thinking about her seemingly hopeless situation interfered with normal interactions with people.
It was as though these thoughts had become so loud that she didn’t hear what people were saying or even seeing what was in front of her!
The more Carly brought herself into the present moment, the more she realized that it WAS a choice what she focused on.
3. Take action if needed from a place of neutral or calm.
For Carly and Frank, it was a wake up call and they both saw how they could be more loving in their marriage and present to each other so they began following that path.
Maybe there’s a spoken or unspoken arrangement that you two made about home chores, finances, child care, or some other issue and that arrangement is not okay with you now.
Maybe you and your partner had an argument long ago and you just haven’t been able to fully let go of hurtful words that were said.
It could be that your spouse had an affair or lied to you in the past and, even though he or she has changed, you are having a difficult time moving on from that betrayal.
There’s no guarantee that you and your partner will be able to easily find a solution that you both will be happier with, but if you approach it from a place of calm, love and invitation, you could see that you move closer to each other…
Or your next steps (which could include leaving) might become clear to you.
For Carly, she decided to talk with Frank without her usual sarcastic comments about him not helping out.
She told him how she loved him and missed him even when he was there. She invited him to talk about how they could share some of the chores around the house and have fun together again.
Remembering to come into a neutral place, she listened to him without making him wrong and he saw something different in her…
Something that made him not get defensive but open more to what she was saying.
4. Focus on what’s going right and what seems to be shifting and changing for the better.
If you truly want to revive connection in your marriage, letting go of resentment is the path to it.
We know, it’s not as simple as “just let it go,” but when you start focusing on even small moments of connection, you do start to not believe resentful thoughts when they come up.
That’s not to say you turn a blind eye toward what’s happening that violates your agreements or beliefs.
But it is to say that it’s up to you to make the choice to stop carrying around the anger. bitterness and resentment for your own benefit.
As you do, you will see new possibilities for your life.