Dr. Rima Mukherji MBBS, DPM, MRCPsych (London) , After gaining 7 years of experience in the UK, Dr. Mukherji set up the renowned Crystal Minds, a mental wellness centre (with a multidisciplinary team offering a wide range of psychiatric and psychological services for all age groups) in Kolkata.
Unresolved resentment in a marriage
In every marriage, the two people involved can always have or find something of the other to feel resentful about. Carrying unresolved resentment in the heart, mind and marriage over long periods of time can spell doom for the marriage. It ultimately leads to accusations, justifications, screaming, counter accusations and much worse. Unaddressed issues don’t go away automatically. They stay and begin to fester.
Top issues that lead to resentment in a marriage:
An outside problem
Many times resentment is due to an outside problem, which has not stemmed from either the husband or wife. For instance, the wife may be hurt about something said to her by her mother-in-law. On discussing with her husband, she found him lacking in support or completely siding with his mother, thus leading to the beginning of resentment. Here the problem has not been resolved with the person who actually caused it, and the relationship is under strain due to a third person.
The usual couple and marriage problems
Often a man and a woman assume certain things about life after marriage. They may feel they know each other well, but after marriage everyone sees things differently. A man who appears to be liberal and modern may stop his wife from resuming work or may impose restrictions on what she wears. The man may not have given a clear picture to his future wife about her life after marriage. A young woman may have been ill prepared for the changes to expect once in a new home. All such issues can lead a young couple to accuse each other, “You have changed, you don’t love anymore, you don’t think of me, you don’t have time for me…” and so on. Over time, the wife gets tagged as a nag and the husband as someone who can do nothing for her.
Also, the husband who has always lived in that house, does not understand why his new wife is not comfortable there. He must make an effort by the husband to figure it out.
Serious problems affecting a couple
One of the partners may be feeling resentful due to serious and disturbing issues like addiction to drugs/alcohol/gambling/shopping, anger issues, an affair, financial problems, illness in the family and so on.
Life after pregnancy and children
With pregnancy and the arrival of young children, a woman’s life completely changes. Her body goes through a lot; deliveries, surgeries in case of a C-section, followed by nappies, breast feeding, baby burping and a hundred things together. Coping with the enormous emotional, physical and lifestyle changes, women begin to wonder if they will ever get back to life as they knew it. Meanwhile, the husband looks the same as always, his body has not gone through any changes, he goes to office as he always did.
He might be an amazing/involved father, but the physiological reaction in many wives is to feel shortchanged, even when they love their husbands dearly. The resentment may grow with time. For instance, when for baby’s illness it is the wife who has to take leave and never the father.
In addition, hands-on fathers are not encouraged. A young couple I was visiting, was admonished in front of me by the grandmother, as to why her smart grandson who is a surgeon, is changing diapers.
Wrong advice by outsiders
Often a couple’s problems get aggravated when they get inflammatory advice from their friends and family. Even if they want what’s best for the wife or husband, when the advice from well-wishers is prefixed with phrases like, ‘how dare s/he do this…. Or S/he has to be taught a lesson…’ in my experience, nothing good comes out of it.
When they drag the law into the marriage
Genuine cases of abuse and harassment of man/woman must be taken to the police with adequate evidence. But increasingly we note that the law is being used not for justice but as a tool to arm twist, manipulate and threaten the other ‘party’. Issues which could have been resolved by six months of couples counselling are subjected to the worst treatment possible – by getting the police involved.
Various sections of the law get invoked, most commonly section 498 A (domestic abuse). When a spouse takes advice from an outside quarter and files an FIR against his/her partner, it sounds a death knell to the relationship. The lawyer’s advice is seldom in the couple’s best interest. Things more often than not get dirty.
Later when for the sake of children, the couple does consider out of court settlements and reconciliation, the partner who had a case against him/her (cases are mostly filed against men), find it difficult to accept how on the instigation of ‘other people’ their partner was willing to let them go to jail and be subjected to months of public humiliation and loss of face. S/he doesn’t care for me. How do I go back to this marriage? The scarring is permanent. In 99.9% cases, couple relationships never recover from such experiences.
Resentment must be tackled
Resentment must never be nurtured in a marriage. Any signs of prolonged irritants must be addressed and resentment must be identified as soon as possible. There are couples who have seen the worst of times and negativity but yet, with a strong will power, positive attitude and counselling, managed to come of it whole and much stronger. Resolving resentment in a marriage is possible.