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 or watching the tv at the sports bar they went to.
When she complained about his lack of help and his inattention, he denied it and said that this was the way he dealt with work stress–and told her to get off his back.
Carly 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 was thinking about leaving him if things didn’t change.
It’s true. Resentment is a relationship-killer.
When you carry around anger, irritation or bitterness because of something your spouse said or did or even due to a situation that’s arisen 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.
A certain holding back and closing down inevitably goes along with resentment. After all, it’s nearly impossible to open your heart fully to your partner when you are feeling angry and bitter about him or her.
Here are 4 ways to resolve 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 in 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.
For Carly, she realized that she hadn’t been feeling well for awhile and wondered if this anger she felt 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.
In Carly’s case, she saw how preoccupied she was about how awful things were with Frank and her work was beginning to suffer.
She wasn’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.
She 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.
3. Take action if needed from a place of neutral or calm.
Maybe there is 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 spouse will be able to easily find a solution that you both will be happier with, but if you approach it from a place of love, you could see that you move closer to each other.
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.
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 absolutely going to have to happen.
We know, it’s not often 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.
Ultimately, however, it’s up to you to make the choice to stop carrying around the anger and bitterness.
It’s your decision to forgive your partner and yourself and to begin to move forward to the kind of future you desire.