Resentment can be like a wall that separates spouses, and the longer the wall stays up, the harder it is to get over it. Walls of resentment can become so high and thick that spouses lose hope of ever getting over it.
But there are some things you can do if you have a wall of resentment in your marriage.
First, relax and realize that every marriage will experience resentment from time to time. Hopefully, the resentments will be small and infrequent, but you can’t live with someone day in and day out without occasional hurt, frustration, misinterpretation, and neglect. These are all bricks that build walls of resentment.
Since none of us will have a marriage completely free of resentment, we need to learn to quickly and effectively deal with resentment. Here are some steps to do that…
- Express. You need to express your hurt and frustration sooner rather than later. Too many of us (myself included) tend to hold things in, letting them grow and fester. Then, days or weeks later when we’re so resentful we can’t stand it, we unload on our spouse with acidic sarcasm or a full blown fight. We need to express our hurts and frustrations when they arise; before the emotions have a chance to elevate. Of course you need to be careful how you express your hurts and resentments to your spouse, but the quicker you express them, the easier it will be to deal with them.
- Confess. When talking to your spouse, you need to confess your contributions to your growing resentment. Too often, we only want to confess our spouse’s contributions. This can cause your spouse to become defensive and close off. Confessing ways you’ve contributed to the problem, will make it easier for your spouse to listen and commit to working on things. Just a word of warning here…confessing your contributions to the problem will not guarantee your spouse will do the same. Still, you need to confess your contributions…not to manipulate your spouse into doing what you want, but because it’s the right thing to do.
- Fix. I’m not talking about fixing your spouse, (which is what most of us try to do.) I’m talking about fixing the problem causing the resentment. You may be thinking, “But my spouse is the problem!” We all feel that at times, but I once heard a wise counselor offer this perspective: “People are not the problem. The problem is the problem.” It’s so easy for us to take things personally and make our resentment about a person, rather than a set of actions that are not working. Resentment begins to fade when you focus on the problem more than the person.
- Release. Once you have expressed your hurt, confessed your contributions, and have begun to fix the problem, then you will need to release your resentment. You will have to forgive them and let it go. (I’m feeling a Disney song coming on.) I know this is easier said than done. It might not happen all at once, and it might have to happen repeatedly. But many times a marriage falls apart, not because of the resentment itself, but because of a failure to release the resentment. When you release resentment, you’re making a decision not to keep rehearsing the actions that brought about the resentment. You’re choosing to release your spouse from the debt they owe you. Don’t we all need that from time to time? Again, it’s easier said than done, but failure to release your resentment results in the slow and painful death of your marriage.
Getting over a wall of resentment is hard work. It’s akin to a soldier in boot camp struggling to scale a tall and foreboding wall on the obstacle course. But if you don’t get over your resentment, you will find yourself under it. In other words, if you don’t deal with your resentment, it will deal with you…and crush you. Don’t let that happen. Climb over the wall!
Is there a growing wall of resentment between you and your spouse? Do you need to take one of the above step to get over that wall? What’s one thing you could do today to start getting over the wall?
Copyright © 2018 Bret Legg