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Resentment In Relationships

Laura Richer, Seattle Therapist

Mar 14, 2021

Resentment is an uncomfortable emotion that occurs when we feel that we have been unfairly treated in a relationship. Resentment feels like a mixture of negative feelings like anger and disappointment, embarrassment, and shame, and it can take a huge toll on relationships. If you find yourself in a resentful marriage, or dealing with a resentful partner in a relationship, it could be time to talk to a couples counselor.

7 signs of resentment in relationships

You may be experiencing resentment in your relationship if you are experiencing the following:

  1. You feel your partner is not listening to you
  2. You fight about the same issue frequently
  3. You find faults with each other
  4. One partner or both is passive–aggressive
  5. You withhold intimacy or affection
  6. You are hopeless about the situation
  7. You feel detached from the relationship

How to prevent resentment from happening

Are you wondering how to prevent resentment in your relationships? It might be time to get in touch with yourself and take the time to understand your own wants and needs. So often we get in the habit of pushing our own needs to the side, and then we may feel resentful when other people do not meet them.

The best way to start preventing resentment is by knowing yourself. What are your boundaries? How can you let people in your life know where your boundaries are? A good relationship with yourself can decrease resentment in your relationships.

What causes resentment in a relationship?

It is easy to get out of touch with your own needs and desires. Our lives are busy and full of obligations to family, friends, employers, partners, and so often we put ourselves on the back burner. Maybe you have never taken the time to really figure out what is important to you?

When we do not take the time to understand our own needs and desires, it is exceedingly difficult to make sure that those needs are met. We can get into a habit of hoping that others will meet our needs, and when they do not the result can be resentment.

What are some examples of resentment?

Maybe you haven’t considered what your boundaries are around certain issues, and only notice them once someone has crossed them? For some people, setting boundaries and saying “no thanks” to friends and family can feel like a daunting task and may take some practice. Taking the time to understand yourself can empower you and give you the skills to set necessary boundaries in your life so that you feel safe in your relationships.

Doing this important work around boundaries will not only decrease resentment in your relationships but can also help you identify relationships that are no longer serving you. Some people are not able to respect our boundaries or show up fairly in relationships, and with the help of a therapist you can learn how to let those people go if you so choose.

Is it realistic to get over resentment?

Getting over resentment is a realistic and attainable goal that does not necessarily mean sacrificing what you think is important. Often when resentment rears its head, it is a result of unacknowledged issues within ourselves. What needs do you have that are not being met? Does this situation bring up fear and have you on the defensive? Answering these and other questions can help you get to the root of your resentment and then let it go.

When talking about resentment it is easy to point fingers and let other people know how they have let you down. This can feel like an attack and can prevent a useful conversation from taking place. Instead of pointing the finger, try focusing on your own feelings. For example, “When you did XYZ, I felt unappreciated, and that left to me feeling sad, because I was really looking for some validation from you in that moment.”

My husband/wife resents me, how do I fix it?

If you are noticing signs of resentment in your relationship, maybe it is time to consider getting some help from a professional therapist. A therapist can help you figure out how to let go of resentment in a relationship, so you can move forward together.

How to talk to your spouse/partner about resentment?

No one wants to be in a resentful relationship. When talking about resentment, instead of pointing fingers, try using feeling words. For example, “When you did this, I felt sad”.

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