What Causes Resentment in a Relationship and How to Deal with it
Relationships are tricky and it takes constant TLC for a relationship to continue to blossom. When the honeymoon phase of a relationship is over and responsibilities (and life) take over, one may feel neglected in a relationship. While it is common to feel that way once in a while, if you feel that your needs or expectations are not being met or you feel angry or sad often, then these feeling of disappointment or bitterness could be due to resentment.
The rocky phase in your relationship could be because of resentment, but that is not to say you’ve hit a dead-end. There are ways in which you can re-ignite the sparks and improve your relationship with your spouse, provided that you’re both willing to work on it.
What Is Resentment?
Resentment can be characterized by multi-layered emotions that can be experienced by one or both partners. These multi-layered emotions include fear, disgust, anger, bitterness, potential hatred, etc., towards the partner. These feelings crop up in a relationship because there may be underlying feelings that are bottled up, when the other person may have wronged or hurt you. It is seen that most people do not have any control over under such circumstances.
Most of the time, the person experiencing resentment towards the other partner can not only feel utterly annoyed but shame too, and in some cases, the feelings become so bitter that it starts harbouring feelings of revenge. All these feelings may crop up as a result of a small incidence of injustice or even a grave one. However, the resentment may be the same in both cases. The person experiencing resentment feels victimized and may not be able to express their feelings, which in turn leads to suppressed emotions that can fester grudge and other negative emotions and feelings.
Causes of Resentment in a Relationships
There are several little problems, which when not taken care of in time, may eventually become the cause of resentment in a relationship.
1. Adjustment Issues
A healthy relationship requires making adjustments and understanding each other’s requirements and needs. However, if your partner dismisses or ignores your needs or even starts fussing or complaining about them, over time, you may resent them.
2. One-Sided Feelings
If it is you who is making efforts in your relationship, for it to work, then chances are eventually, you will get frustrated and resent your partner. If you take care of the little needs of your partner and they don’t express gratitude or return the favour, you may feel that you’re in a one-sided relationship, and it may harbour resentment over time.
3. Not Letting Go of the Grudges
Sometimes, your partner may make a mistake that you may find difficult to ignore or forget. This may fester the feelings of grudge towards the partner, where you may not be able to forgive your partner, and your partner may feel that you are not supportive, and hence leading to resentment.
4. Not Appreciating the Efforts Put in by Each Other
Sometimes partners may take each other for granted in a relationship, and anything that the other person does not only goes unnoticed but also not appreciated most of the times. This may disappoint the person who is putting in the effort and may crop up negative emotions in that person’s heart. The accumulation of all these emotions and feelings leads to resentment.
5. Unfulfilled Expectations and Desires
At the start of a relationship, most people have expectations from each other. However, sometimes these expectations and desires remain unfulfilled. You may feel that your partner is not meeting your expectations or fulfilling your desires, and it could cause you to resent them!
6. Being With Someone Who Insists on Being Right
If you are in a relationship with someone who seldom listens or agrees with your perspective or opinion and feels whatever he or she does or says is always correct, it can end up making the other person feel bitter or disappointed that can eventually end up in becoming a resentful spouse or partner!
Signs of Resentment
Now that you know what could lead to resentment in a marriage, let’s help you understand the signs of resentment. These signs will help you identify if you are experiencing resentment in your relationship.
1. You Keep Quarreling Over the Same Issues
‘Not taking the trash out in time’, ‘not taking the dog for a walk’, or simply ‘not switching off the lights at night’ are some of the most common things many couples argue about on a daily basis. These issues may seem trivial initially, but if you’re the one who has to constantly remind your partner to turn off the lights or pay the bills, you may start resenting them.
2. You Feel That Your Partner Is Not Paying Heed
If you feel that your partner is making deliberate mistakes in spite of you reminding them about them, you may feel ignored or neglected and eventually escalate negative feelings towards the partner.
3. You Feel Hopeless
If you feel trapped in your relationship, it could be due to resentment. You may think that no matter how hard you try, there may not be any solution to your issues with your partner, and all this may take a toll on your well-being. This may also make you shy away from being happy about the relationship.
4. You Experience Intimacy Issues
If there is no intimacy left in your marriage, you’re likely to resent your partner and your relationship. You may not have loving conversations or even feel attracted to each other. The spark that once attracted you towards your partner may seem to have been lost. Many times, all these feelings can also lead to loss of physical intimacy, which is a big indication for you.
5. One of the Partners Is Passive-Aggressive
if instead of dealing with relationship issues, when either of the partners become passive-aggressive, (which means that rather than talking about the concerns, you or your partner prefers sarcasm or become vengeful about it), it could be a sign of neglect in a relationship. Passive-aggressive behaviour may provide momentary relief from the problem; however, it may eventually confuse the other partner and may lead to more frustration or anger.
6. You Keep Finding Faults in Each Other
Many times, partners may keep finding faults in each other over trivial issues or matters. Though the issues may be insignificant, however, constantly bickering about them builds dissatisfaction and disappointment.
7. You Feel Detached
If your relationship no longer holds importance or significance for you, the way it did initially, it could eventually make you resent your relationship too. You might withdraw from each other and you may not want to be in a relationship with your partner.
Effects of Resentment in a Marriage
Sometimes resentment can turn the relationships so bitter that the only way out is to be out of the relationship itself. If measures to make amends are not taken on time, it may lead to severe consequences. Let’s understand the consequences of resentment in a relationship.
1. It May Cause Deeper Resentment and Emotional Pain
Experiencing resentment towards your partner is more like inflicting self-suffering and pain. These negative emotions and feelings not only shake your confidence but also cause you immense emotional and physical trauma. You may feel that your positivity, energy levels, or productivity are drained out of you. The resentment that goes unsolved leads to deeper impacts that are not only irreparable, but as time passes, it becomes irreplaceable too.
2. It May Increase the Distance Between Partners
When there is resentment, there becomes room for increased misunderstandings, where partners blame, insult, or even accuse each other. All these emotions that engulf a relationship give rise to more emotional and physical distance. The partners may feel a loss of connection with each other, which could eventually increase their distance.
3. It May Lead to Trust Issues
When resentment seeps into a relationship, it also makes room for trust issues between partners. This may affect your commitment to the relationship because resentment makes you not expect anything from your partner, which may make you invest less in the relationship. You may also not rely on your partner for support because you feel that they are not available to you when you need them.
4. It May Lead to Estrangement or Break-Ups
When nothing seems to make sense or work out, you may eventually start to question your relationship, and it may also make you think if your relationship is even worth your time and energy. You may not be alone, but you may still feel lonely, and nothing that once was important to you will matter anymore to either or both of you. This usually occurs when the resentment has reached a stage where it is difficult but impossible to make any amends. Such circumstances often lead to estrangement or breakups.
How to Cope With Resentment in Relationship
Sometimes, things may not be as bad as they appear and can be managed by putting in some effort. Here are some coping strategies that may help you in overcoming resentment in marriage or other relationships:
1. Exercise Patience
If you have made up your mind to give your relationship a chance and have you spoken to your partner about your pent-up feelings, then it is important to be patient and wait for things to improve. Sometimes mistakes may be made, but empathize with your partner and give them time if they make amends.
2. Complaint in a Better Way
If there are issues or problems that are bothering you, there are always ways to communicate them in a positive manner. Use words with caution when addressing criticism as sometimes wrong choice of words can make the situation messy, and instead of things becoming better, they may become worse.
3. Respect Your Commitment
If promises and commitments were made, make sure that you make efforts to fulfill them. Do not let your promises die a slow death, well, these certainly do not include smaller commitments like forgetting a dinner date or planning a holiday but do take account of promises that matter to your partner.
4. Practice Forgiveness
It is okay for people to make mistakes, and do not make that an exception for your spouse or partner. If your partner makes any mistake or fault, be ready to forgive and move on rather than holding on to grudges. However, it counts for mistakes that are not things that affect you greatly or are not genuine. It also does not mean to keep forgiving your partner’s recurring mistakes.
5. Have Realistic Expectations
It is common for people to have expectations from each other in relationships. However, it certainly does not mean that you have unruly expectations that your partner may not be able to fulfil, and you keep feeling resentment for something that is not in your partner’s power or capacity to fulfil.
6. Do Not Bring Up the Past
If the problems of the past were dealt with, then there is no point to rehash them. It will only make your partner feel guilty or resent you. Discuss the present issues rather than dwelling over past mistakes or problems.
Resentment is common, but it’s not something that you cannot handle. As soon as you sense that there is even the slightest sign of resentment in your relationship, you should make efforts to resolve it. Discuss your issues with your partner and take the best possible measures to solve them. Effective communication and empathizing will make the road to recovery a smooth ride for you and your partner!