There is famous a saying about relationships that is applicable for every aspect in life. ‘Relationships are like glass. Once broken, they can be fixed but the crack will always be there.’ Any committed relationship needs constant nurturing and attention, failing which it is likely to get stuck in a rut of boredom or indifference. However, what makes it worse is when, for some reason or the other, resentment in marriage creeps in.
Here, we need need to understand the difference between resentment and hatred or anger. The latter can last for a short while, it may result in fights, disappointment and irritation with your spouse.
Soon all is forgotten and things go back to normal. However, resentment is far more deep rooted and requires care and caution. Dealing with resentment in relationships needs a certain amount of emotional understanding and a will to put in efforts to bring about a balance. Let’s take a deeper look.
7 Signs Of Resentment In Your Relationship
Resentment in marriage basically means harboring ill-will towards your spouse – often built up over a period of time – so much so that just their mere presence makes you angry and uncomfortable. Clinical psychologist and couple therapist Prachi Vaish says that resentment occurs primarily because of two reasons: a mismatch of expectations and breakdown of communication.
She also points out the basic difference between resentment and anger, which are often confused as the same. “Anger can come and go but resentment is the grudge that gets left behind. Underneath every resentment, there are some deep rooted emotions,” she says.
Then there is the role of cognitive errors. “You may perceive certain things said by your partner in a certain way and build a scenario around it. The other person reacts defensively or maybe even aggressively feeding to the negative emotion you have already built up towards the other,” she elaborates adding that the signs of resentment in marriage differ from men to women.
So the reason why wives resent husbands can be quite different from why men can’t stand their wives! Either way, there are some common behavioral patterns to watch out for.
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1. You exchange sarcastic comments and words
What used to be honey and sugar turns into barbs and snipes when a once-loving relationship turns resentful. Both men and women can indulge in this kind of behavior where they pass caustic remarks against each other, sometimes in the presence of others.
They try their best to put each other down, using barbed words, often under the guise of humor. And if it is a full-fledged fight, be prepared to hear lots of hurtful words from your partner.
2. You indulge in passive aggressive behavior
This non-verbal sign of resentment in marriage is often exhibited by women. “Women may either completely cut off and stop engaging with their partner or they may go to the other end and try and provoke,” says Dr. Vaish.
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She adds, “Women want explanations more than men but might hesitate to ask directory especially if their partner is dismissive of the problem. That’s when they use words to provoke and get a reaction.” Needless to say, it leads to more anger and toxicity.
3. The silent treatment and avoidance is a norm
This is more seen among men. While women can be confrontational, men give the silent treatment when they want to show contempt in a marriage. It is regular for them to withdraw when they have a problem while a woman’s natural tendency is to talk it out and connect with someone.
Other signs that your husband resents you include comparisons and needless jibes. They may make off-hand remarks about someone else’s wife or friends knowing that it may rattle you.
4. Argument as a way of life
Constant, unending arguments are also signs of resentment in marriage. From household matters to important decisions of life, they love to disagree on everything because these fights are the only things that bring them together. Confused? Let us explain. Some men and women subconsciously seek a fight because that’s the only point where they have an honest conversation with each other.
Most other times, they stay away from each other’s way. Fights bring them on one platform, even if in a toxic way!
5. You get detached
This happens over a period of time when you are so disconnected that you gradually behave like two strangers living under the same roof. It happens mostly when you bottle up your disagreements and avoid having any confrontation.
When both, the husband and wife, prefer to look the other way than solve their problems, they feel more detached from one another. There are no joint celebrations, no happy holidays and there is only a sense of listlessness about the way you conduct your unhappy marriage. These are definite signs of resentment in marriage.
6. Your sex life is non-existent
Whenever there are relationship issues, the first casualty is sex. After years of marriage, as it is, it requires an effort to keep the physical side of the relationship sizzling. But couples in happy marriages become more emotionally connected as the years go by.
The opposite happens in resentful marriages. There is no attraction towards the partner and it increases the possibility of either one of them seeking sexual satisfaction outside of marriage.
Sexual attraction in a long-term relationship or marriage is rarely easy to keep up. Even in the happiest of marriages, your bedroom life needs work and attention. But if you’ve got constant resentment simmering in a marriage, the will to work on the physical intimacy also suffers.
7. They forget everything that matters to you
Be it anniversary dates or birthdays, they make every excuse to avoid being with you. When you carry deep resentment towards your spouse, anything that makes you happy doesn’t make them thrilled. The joy of sharing things together has all but disappeared and it’s replaced by sarcastic remarks aimed at making fun of anything that matters to you.
Initially they all might seem to be in good humor but then you gradually realize that the constant criticism is rising from resentment in the relationship.
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Resentment In Marriage – 5 Ways To Deal With It
When you feel your marriage is headed nowhere, how many times have you asked yourself – ‘Why do I resent my husband’? Introspection and reflection is needed from your end too as negative feelings are rarely caused by one person. They are most certainly accumulated residues of pent up anger or frustration that leads to resentment in your relationships.
First and foremost, you need to decide if you want to improve it and give your marriage a shot at revival. The good news is that it is possible. Unless the resentment reaches toxic levels that only divorce seems an option, you should always give your marriage a chance. Dr. Vaish gives these five tips:
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1. Blow off your steam somewhere else
First rule towards reconciliation – do not approach your partner when he is raging. An emotional mind cannot think logically. Anger is essentially a defense mechanism that shuts off blood supply to the logical thinking centre of your brain.
You may want to attack your partner when he is attacking you with harsh words, but control. Go for a run, punch pillows or even go to sleep but do not react in anger.
Ultimately, if you are hoping to fix your relationship, reacting with kindness and a little rationality is very important, even when you’re dying to yell at your partner. Take a step back, a deep breath, and go get your rage out elsewhere.
2. Decide on a timeout sign or gesture
This could be a pact between the two of you during your good times together – have a time-out gesture whenever a fight begins to get out of hand. An argument or fight always starts with one person.
No two people can rage at the same time over the same issue. Hence, whoever starts the fight, the other (usually calmer person) needs to use the time-out gesture to keep the peace. It’s worth it.
3. Stick to the issue
So you decide to argue back when your husband’s resentment blows up. Often couples bring unrelated issues to the forefront when it gets out of hand leaving the real relationship problem far behind. If it helps, write down your emotions and feelings and discuss them with your husband but stick to the main issue that led to the fight. Don’t digress.
4. Use ‘I’ statements
Do not use too many statements beginning with ‘You’. It doesn’t mean that you take the blame for everything that happens for the sake of peace, it just means that you try and be neutral. ‘You did this’ , ‘You made me feel like this’ etc will only add to the stress.
Instead, Dr. Vaish suggests that you turn your sentences to ‘I felt xyz when abc happened’. Be kind without being passive. This may show your partner that you genuinely want to work towards reconciliation.
5. Change yourself, not your partner
When you see strong signs that your husband resents you, do not try and change him too much. Instead you take a vow to be calm and mature. Just tell yourself – ‘it’s his choice to shout at me, it’s my choice to not respond’.
By not suppressing or stonewalling but by being calm, you won’t give him more fodder to attack you. Once the storm is over is when you take charge.
It is unfortunate that relationships degenerate into resentment after a period of time. It is your choice whether you want to save your marriage or not but when you recognise the signals from early on, it is worthwhile to take some actions. Forgiveness and a bit of kindness can go a long way in saving a relationship. Don’t give in to resentment in marriage, instead try for revival.
Recognize the signs when your husband resents you or your presence around him. Once you do so, figure out where you are going wrong or what could be the trigger? Then work towards having an open communication instead of letting it fester and grow.
Yes it can. Especially when it is not dealt with early on. Resentment can lead to hatred which results in anger. If the situation is not solved, it only builds up to such an extent that even the mere presence of a person is enough trigger. No marriage can survive in such negativity.
The root cause of resentment is unfulfilled expectations you may have from your partner. The second reason is the breakdown of communication. When you don’t have proper conversation, the resentment grows.
Anger can go away, it is like a wave that rises and ebbs. But resentment is deeper. It is a byproduct of anger so it’s bubbling under the surface. But can it go away? Yes, provided both parties can commit to resolving it.
Everything is a choice. Between stimulus and response, there is an important element called choice. Everyone has a mental faculty to make choices but we often don’t use them. Primarily because we are not taught to sit with uncomfortable emotions. You can make a choice to let go of resentment but you need to do that in a calm mind and not an emotional state of mind.
You can release resentment by accepting your faults too. Anger in relationships is never one-sided. See what behaviour or words resulted in your husband being resentful towards you, work on those and then it is possible to release them.
Yes it can. But try not to do it yourself. Seek a therapist’s help. Professional help is way better than family or friends because much as they have your interest in mind, there will be a bias.