Anger and resentment towards husband

How To Fix Toxic Resentment In Marriage: 7 Practical Steps

When left unchecked, resentment in marriage is fatal. It destroys the love and leaves you feeling bitter and angry towards your partner.

But the surprising thing about resentment is that when approached correctly, it can actually be an unexpected gift.

In fact, knowing how to overcome resentment in our marriage has helped us to address important relationship issues and create an even stronger marriage – and a better sex life.

In this blog you’ll learn exactly how to deal with resentment in your marriage, including:

  • What causes resentment in a marriage, and the toxic signs to watch out for
  • What to do when you feel resentment towards your spouse
  • What to do when your spouse resents you
  • A proven action plan for how to overcome resentment in your marriage
  • And how to turn resentment into a force for growth and fulfilment

Whether you’re the one feeling resentment towards your partner, or you think that your partner holds resentment towards you, this is the complete guide for healing resentment in your marriage.


What Is Resentment In Marriage?

Resentment in marriage is the buildup of negative feelings towards your partner when you feel wronged, betrayed, neglected, poorly treated, or taken for granted. Resentment is toxic to a relationship and over time will erode the safety, connection, and good will necessary for a successful marriage.

Resentment towards your spouse basically comes down to this:

Your partner has knowingly or unknowingly broken the agreements of your relationship. And that hurts.

Whether it’s how you want to be treated, what you thought your marriage would look like, or the life you thought you were building together, the disappointment, anger, and frustration of these unmet expectations can be devastating.

What Causes Resentment In Marriage?

The causes of resentment in marriage are many and varied, but common causes include:

  • Feeling like you contribute more to the relationship than your partner
  • A long-term lack of emotional intimacy and connection
  • Feeling unimportant or that you’re not a priority to your partner
  • An unfulfilling sex life
  • Toxic communication or unresolved arguments
  • Feeling unappreciated or like your partner doesn’t really ‘see’ you
  • Selfish or controlling behaviour
  • Intense criticism or demeaning comments from your partner

Resentments often start small:

A careless remark, a forgotten commitment, a lack of appreciation.

But if these small hurts are not resolved effectively, they intensify over time. One minor incident builds upon another until you’re carrying around a heart full of past grievances.

What Are The Signs Of Resentment In Marriage?

Resentment in marriage can look like:

  • Obsessive thoughts about past hurts
  • Criticism, negative judgements, and ‘thinking the worst’ of your partner
  • A constant feeling of tension or walking on eggshells
  • Stonewalling, defensiveness, and emotional withholding
  • Not feeling safe and finding it difficult to trust
  • Fantasizing about leaving the relationship
  • Actively attempting to hurt your partner’s feelings
  • A sense of feeling let down or betrayed by your partner
  • Chronic arguments and an inability to collaborate effectively
  • Consistent fault finding
  • Fearing vulnerability and not feeling safe to open up to each other
  • A lack of plutonic touch and everyday affection
  • Experiencing sexual rejection and feeling unwanted


Does Resentment Lead To Divorce?

If left unaddressed, resentment can erode a marriage to the point where divorce seems like the only option. Resentment undermines the positives making it difficult to deal with problems in a constructive way. It can make staying together feel hopeless and often pushes one partner – or both – towards leaving.

But a marriage can recover from resentment:

It takes shared responsibility, a willingness to talk openly, and a dedication to doing the healing work. You have to understand the hurts in your relationship, be able to talk them through together, and then commit to meeting each other’s needs.

Think of it like this:

Imagine that in your relationship there’s a glass window between you and your partner.

For connection to flow easily, the window needs to be clean and clear.

But when some small hurt happens between you, it’s like a dark stain on the window. One or two aren’t a problem as you can still see each other clearly. But a build up of unresolved issues creates a wall so that you no longer feel close or connected.

Overcoming resentment in your marriage is the process of ‘cleaning the relationship window’, allowing you to come back together and build a more fulfilling marriage.

How To Overcome Anger And Resentment In Your Marriage

The next section guides you through a process to understand the hurts you’re feeling, uncover the valid needs underneath them, and help you communicate those needs in a way that will help you get them met.

And, parts of this process will be difficult.

Resentment can be challenging as it colors your perception and creates harmful narratives about your relationship and your partner that aren’t always accurate. (We call them ‘poo goggles’ – the opposite of rose-colored glasses).

To overcome anger and resentment in your marriage you have to be willing to question these assumptions and consider different perspectives.

Keep an open mind, and trust that this process has the power to transform even the toughest of resentments – if you’re willing to try.

What Do You Do When Your Spouse Resents You?

If your partner holds resentment towards you then you’ll want to open up a conversation where the two of you can go through these steps together.

If you’re not sure how to do that, try initiating a relationship check in.

Or you could send them this article and let them know that you want to work through the resentments in your marriage, whether that’s by yourselves or with the guidance of a relationship coach or a marriage therapist.

1. Look For The Positives

Ready to put that open mind into practice? List all of the things that are awesome about your partner and your relationship.

Let’s be clear that this is not an attempt to gaslight or be all ‘toxic positivity’*.

These positive attributes aren’t going to magic away the negatives or instantly fix your resentment.

But before we dive into the more challenging aspects of healing resentment in marriage, start by remembering what’s great about your spouse, and why you’ve chosen to be in a relationship with them.

Challenge yourself to write down at least 20 things. This is your ‘why?’ for getting over resentment in your marriage.

2. Understanding Hurts & Complaints

Now list the ‘negatives’ and the things you’re feeling resentful about:

  • What are some of the complaints you have about your partner?
  • What have they done that’s hard to let go of?
  • Where do you feel disrespected, unloved, or wronged?

Then pick one resentment you want to focus on healing:

  • How do you feel when you think about this? (Hint – go beyond anger and frustration, and feel what other emotions are there)
  • What really hurts about this?
  • Why is this important to you?
  • What assumptions have you made about your partner and their actions? Why do you think they’re doing what they’re doing?


And most importantly:

  • What is it that you truly want?
  • What is the need or vulnerable desire underneath the hurt?
  • What would you like them to acknowledge, change, or take action on? (We call this the ‘yearning beneath the complaint’)

Hint: The need or desire will usually be something positive but vulnerable to articulate. Something like, “I want to feel like you truly love me.” “I want to know that you still care about me.” or “I want to have more play and fun in our relationship.”

If you keep getting a need that feels adversarial, dig a little deeper.

3. Communicate Your Needs

Now that you have a better understanding of your resentments, it’s time to talk to your partner. But be careful.

Because as relationship experts John & Julie Gottman discovered, “If a conversation starts with criticism or other destructive communication, it’s going to end as an argument 96% of the time.” *

So instead of making ‘you always’ or ‘you never’ accusations, try talking about your resentment from your own perspective.

This formula can be helpful:

Effective Communication Formula

When ___________ happened / happens, I feel / felt ___________. What I would like / need from you is ___________, / I want to feel ___________.

For example, instead of, “You never make time for me. Work is always more important to you than me.”


“When you work late nights and weekends, I feel unimportant and abandoned. What I would like is more quality time together. I want to feel like I matter to you, and that I’m your priority.”


  • Choose just one resentment to focus on at a time
  • Be mindful of not making assumptions or interpretations about their behaviour
  • Avoid personal attacks


4. Be Sensitive To Their Triggers

When we turn to our partner with a complaint or request about our needs, one of the most common responses is defensiveness or turning away.

Is it because they’re an asshole?

Look, it’s certainly possible. But in the vast majority of relationships there’s a much more compassionate reason:

They’re triggered.

Something you’ve said has brought up their insecurities and unresolved emotional wounds.

If you make a request that you’d like to spend more time together, they hear:

“You’re not doing enough. You’re a failure.”

When you tell them you feel unhappy in your marriage, they hear:

“You don’t make me happy because you’re not good enough for me.”

It’s why resentment breeds resentment. When you try to communicate about your hurts, it hurts your partner. They react, which hurts you more. It’s a toxic cycle that can be difficult to break.

But if you can notice when your partner gets defensive and respond with empathy – reassuring their triggers and insecurities – you set yourself up for a much more productive conversation.

5. Get Curious About Their Perspective

Refer back to the interpretations and assumptions you were making about your resentments:

I’m not important to you.

You don’t respect me.

You don’t appreciate all of the things I do.

You’re not attracted to me anymore.

It’s time to practice curiosity and ask what else might be going on. To do this well you’ll need to summon all of the compassion and open-mindedness you can:

“I’m curious about why you’re working so late each evening? What’s going on for you at work? Is it actually possible for us to spend more time together now?”

“Why do you think we’re not having as much sex as we used to? Are you struggling with anything? How do you feel about our sex life? How do you feel about yourself sexually?”

“When that thing happened / when you said that thing – what was going on for you? What did you actually mean when you said that?”

This is a delicate step that can be difficult to master. Our communication course for couples equips you with proven tools to have more productive conversations.

6. Make An Action Plan

In as few words as possible, what actions would help you to get your needs met and resolve the situation? Is it:

  • An apology?
  • A commitment to a regular date night?
  • A plan to re-distribute the chores?
  • A request for more affectionate touch or words of appreciation?
  • Or to have more sex dates?

The clearer you are on what you need, the more meaningful and effective this action plan becomes.

Don’t forget to also ask what your partner might need:

“How can I support you in making these changes?” can be a great question to ask.

Sometimes we don’t realise that there are very real obstacles standing in the way. So if you can help remove those obstacles you have a better chance of success.

And remember – needs aren’t demands. Expressing a real need will usually feel soft and vulnerable. Because the truth is, there’s no guarantee. And that can be scary.

7. Celebrate Success

Change doesn’t happen overnight. It happens step by step, moment to moment. And any positive momentum you make certainly won’t continue unless you take the time to actively appreciate and celebrate it.

Because when it comes to behavior change, the science of positive reinforcement is clear: it works.*

So be on the lookout for all the ways your partner is trying. Tell them how much it means to you. Tell them how it makes you feel.

Yes, there’ll be mistakes along the way, and you might need to course correct many times. But never forget to appreciate what you’re each doing every step of the way.

And to help maintain the positive momentum, check out our complete guide to having a relationship check in. It’ll keep you on-track and help address any potential complaints before they turn into resentments.

Is sex a problem in your relationship? Do you crave more physical intimacy with your partner? Check out our complete how-to guide to help you reignite your love life.

Or if you want to take your relationship to the next level, our ultimate guide on how to build emotional intimacy, or these 11 conscious marriage goals, will help get you there.

Sources & References

At Practical Intimacy we’re committed to keeping our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. We use only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles.

Cherry, K. (2021)

Gottman, J. (2014)

Nicholson, J. (2017)

Reece Stockhausen & Jodie Milton have made improving people’s lives and relationships both their passion, and their career. With over 25 years experience in the Personal Development industry, and 8 years coaching singles and couples, their no-BS advice has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Bustle, and HuffPost.

Book in for a complimentary online video call to discover how their men's, women's, and couple's coaching programs can support you.

What Resentment Looks Like In A Marriage: 8 Signs to Recognize

Resentment is dangerous. It tiptoes into your mind and, if not immediately dealt with, grows into a rot that can destroy relationships. It starts out innocently enough. Your partner does something and you feel, rightfully or not, wronged, bothered, disappointed — something froths up. Instead of talking about the issue at hand, you ignore it. Over weeks or months, the same thing happens. And because it was never communicated about in the first place, the resentment only grows and begins to manifest in troublesome ways.

It helps to understand the definition of resentment. “It is the feeling of anger, irritation, or bitterness when holding the belief that you have been wronged or betrayed by someone or treated unfairly,” says Elinor Bawnik, a Los Angeles-based licensed marriage and family therapist. Though all feelings are valid and deserve acknowledgement, our resentment may not be justified. “Unfortunately,” says Bawnik, “whether our resentment is based on fact or perception, acting on it can significantly impair relationships.”

Over time resentment can result in major rifts and conflicts. “It generally starts with small signs, where the partner who is feeling it, may not even realize that they are acting any differently,” says Michaela Decker, an Arizona-based licensed marriage and family therapist. “Resentment rarely looks like ‘I am feeling hurt because of…’ but instead manifests in many different, subtle ways.”

When you feel yourself resenting your wife or your husband, the feeling needs to be acknowledged and interrogated. But before you can do that, you must recognize the signs of resentment and the little ways it infects your relationship.

The Signs of Resentment In Marriage

1. Clamming Up

As resentment grows, the desire for communication often shrinks. You may not want to talk, or be spoken to, so you retreat inwards.

“Since we have perceived emotional pain, we often make ourselves less emotionally available,” explains Decker. “We may not text or call as much throughout the day and share fewer details of our lives with our partner. Doing so doesn’t feel as emotionally safe as before.” The dangers here are the “What ifs?” that can enter your partner’s mind as he or she tries to figure out the reason behind your radio silence.

2. Using Generalized Statements

The words “always” and “never” are rarely accurate. Using them when describing frustrations with your partner can indicate your fixation on what’s wrong, instead of what can be done to make it right.

“When we resent someone, our minds can become hyper-vigilant and look for themes related to why we feel resentment,” says Decker. If your husband or wife doesn’t follow through on, say, cleaning the kitchen before company comes, you may feel or say that you can ‘never’ rely on them. “Doing so results in our partner feeling like we only focus on their negative attributes and don’t acknowledge their positive ones,” says Decker.

3. Being Passive Aggressive

“We tend to act out our feelings of resentment indirectly, at least at first,” says Decker. “We are often triggered by smaller things that normally wouldn’t bother us and our reactions can become more intense than usual. We deliver veiled messages and use sarcasm to express frustration instead of being explicit.”

In your mind, minor annoyances may become major issues, and a quick sigh, snide comment, or mocking gesture is easier to express than a deep emotional dive and conversation. According to Decker, though, if left unchecked, the behavior can fester and manifest as bitterness, anger, and disdain in the future.

4. Comparing Your Partner to Others

Jealousy preys on our insecurities. And when we’re feeling wronged by or resentful of our partner, we begin to wonder what’s keeping us from being happy like all of those ‘other couples’.

“When resenting a spouse or partner, we may longingly think of times where we felt like our needs were met in other relationships, whether romantic or platonic,” says Decker. The danger in doing so is that we create unrealistic expectations that neither we nor our partner may be able to live up to.

5. Feeling Hopeless About Conflicts

When you’re resentful, conflicts can start to seem unsalvageable and you may feel like you don’t have the willpower to get through them.

“If you leave an interaction thinking, It doesn’t matter what I do. The situation won’t change, you’re setting yourself up for catastrophe,” says Bawnik. “Trying to talk to someone or fix something may feel like it’s too much effort and not worth it, but not doing so only guarantees that the other person will continue their behavior and the situation will stay the same.”

In short, you’ve got nothing to gain and everything to lose by inadvertently harboring resentment after a disagreement.

6. Focusing only on “Fairness”

You may have heard already, but life isn’t fair. Relationships aren’t either. But resentment can leave you stewing about your spousal scorecard when it comes to everything from doing chores to raising children.

“Resentment raises focus on what is fair, what you are worth, and what you get out of a relationship, but not in an effective way,” adds Bawnik. “You may have thoughts that you are being taken advantage of or undervalued in an interaction or not getting your fair share. It may be true, but resentment may lead you to quantify the relationship by counting how many times you took out the dog or cleaned the house compared to your partner.” No matter the score, both players lose.

7. Complaining Excessively

As anger and frustration tend to stay with us, it’s common to seek validation through the opinions of others. But, according to Bawnik, we may not always get the empathy we want, which can lead to even more resentment.

“Resentment is very common after an unsuccessful interaction, when we feel our boundaries are disrespected or miscommunicated. We can’t shake the feelings of annoyance or bitterness immediately, so we may feel the need to complain to others. Often, the empathy or validation we get is not enough to justify the anger, and we’re still left with those feelings.”

Our resentment can grow — and show — through the feeling that no one understands why we’re so upset.

8. Saying Things You Can’t Take Back

“Resentment often goes hand-in-hand with feeling as if you are not being heard. This can result in arguments becoming more frequent and intense,” says Decker. “These types of arguments, built up from resentment, can include threats to the relationship which can have devastating repercussions. We say more hurtful things to our partner in the heat of the moment and then become filled with more regret and shame.”

So, even though acknowledging and admitting resentment may be difficult, the alternative is often eruption. And that does considerable damage.

What To Do If You Feel Resentment Bubbling Up

If you find yourself resenting your partner, you’re already a step ahead. “Identifying the resentment is the first step,” says Bawnik.

To figure out a solution, Bawnik states the obvious: you need to talk about your needs and boundaries assertively, acknowledge what and how you can make changes that meet those needs. You must also acknowledge the needs of your partner. riting down these needs, including the things you can’t change, while also keeping listing what you’re grateful for in the relationship, is a helpful exercise.

Decker advises doing whatever you can to break the inevitable cycle of mutual resentment.

“Over time, your showings of resentment can create more hurt in the relationship, which will lead your partner to resent you,” she says. “This cycle can cause us to focus only on the negative aspects of our relationship when, instead, we can use the experience to cultivate healing with each other.

This article was originally published on

4 psychological signs of resentment in a relationship

While the essence of resentment may seem as simple as “I’m mad at you because you keep forgetting to throw out the trash,” the psychology of resentment in a relationship is more complex than it might seem at first glance. Feeling resentful is not just about disliking or finding someone annoying; it is a feeling associated with the repetition of painful patterns caused by unresolved issues. Yes, I know it sounds terribly complicated, but it's actually a pretty simple concept when you break it down. And it’s better to take the time to sort it out, because resentment towards a partner (even if you don’t understand that you feel it) is not the best news for your love life. However, there is good news: your relationship is not doomed if you realize that you have recently felt resentment; you can pay attention to it and deal with that feeling.

Resentment in a relationship can appear not only because of some specific details of your everyday worries; it is often related to gender roles and inequality. For example, a famous (and frustrating) 2013 study found that heterosexual men feel subconscious anxiety and resentment when the women they are in a relationship with are doing well, even if they are consciously fine with it. Researchers believe that anxiety may be associated with a socially programmed idea of ​​\u200b\u200bthe male role in family and relationships, even if the man is a staunch feminist. And while the burden of self-sacrifice in balancing relationships and work is no longer solely on women, a 2015 study found that cultural expectations of women in housework and childcare are still high, which may explain the source of resentment in relationships. However, we will soon see that couples can be offended by just about anything.

How do you know you're mad at your partner when you don't pierce a voodoo doll with their name on it every night? Psychological signals of resentment in a relationship can help here. If you are constantly offended for the same reason without dealing with it, there is a good chance that a lot of resentment has accumulated. Read on to see if any of the signals below are familiar to you, learn how to work with them, and forgive the offense.

1. You can't forget a grudge

The concept of resentment in psychology is not a separate feeling, but rather a process of savoring a certain emotion, which does not allow one to somehow solve the problem. Clinical social worker Mark Seichel gave one of the clearest definitions of resentment in Psychology Today.

“Resentment is the mental process of replaying a feeling and the events leading up to it that anger and incite. We don't replay a list of cold facts, we re-live them, which has a devastating effect on us emotionally, psychologically and spiritually."

Repeated repetition of anger is a key pattern of resentment, so constantly revisiting annoying or upsetting memories is a sure sign of resentment in a relationship. If you keep coming back to certain events (for example, when you quit your job to move to your partner's city or when he forgot your birthday), you feel resentful.

Resentment is often associated with regret, feeling angry or suffering in response to the belief that something extremely important was not done. If your regrets are related to the decisions you made for the sake of the relationship (for example, "why didn't I take this job in Antarctica when I had the chance?"), those regrets are most likely the root of your resentment.

2. There are hidden subtexts in your conversations

The psychological essence of resentment in a relationship is that it is not "open" or voiced; it is well hidden and hard to see.

In Relationships And Patterns Of Conflict Resolution, a classic for family psychologists, author Dr. Peter Ladd explains that resentment is actually a form of "civilized anger." Just like passive aggression, it hides the power of negative emotions instead of showing them openly.
Ladd also talks about how resentment tends to use withdrawal as a conflict resolution strategy. Conflict resolution strategies are an attempt to describe people's response to a dispute between colleagues and partners. There are four different styles of conflict resolution: competition, cooperation, compromise, withdrawal. People who use the latter are usually passive, unprepared for confrontation, and often dodge or try to avoid resolving the issue. If this description sounds like your way of dealing with relationship problems, resentment can creep in very quickly.

Ladd explains that if both partners in a relationship are trying to avoid conflict, your normal conversations about neutral topics can be filled with resentment. “It allows resentful men and resentful women to let out their frustration and anger without officially declaring that there is a problem.”

3. You cannot change the pattern

Guilt and resentment often go hand in hand. Imagine, for example, that one partner earns more than the other. This results in the recipient feeling less resentment and the recipient feeling more guilt. Psychology Today calls it "the dance between resentment and guilt" and says that it's not only common in romantic relationships, but also common among people who care for relatives or take care of children.

Ladd adds that the guilt-resentment interaction can become stronger in a relationship. He gives an example of a pair of an unreliable and reliable partner, when one person is responsible and the other is extremely frivolous. “The guilt of the unreliable partner may feed on the resentment of the reliable partner, and the resentment of the reliable partner may be reinforced by the guilt of the unreliable partner.” It's a vicious circle where you can argue about the same things over and over (and over).

4 Feeling unheard

If you think about it, this makes sense: resentment plays the same problem, because nothing has changed. There was no apology, the accountability structure didn't change, and your partner didn't try to make you feel better (or tried, but it didn't work). So you just go back to the same feeling of anger.

That's why the British Office of Psychological Counseling calls resentment a relationship cancer: if left untreated, it can eat into your relationship until it dies. Mark Seichel identifies three main reasons for resentment: the partner did something bad or thoughtless, the partner did not do something important, or the partner simply does not do “enough”. If you don't deal with resentment in your relationship, things will only get worse.

According to Dr. Oren Emitei, “If the offense and its causes are not dealt with, the offended party will not feel compensated by the partner, especially if the offense was inflicted not on purpose or through misunderstanding, in such cases the offending partner may not even know about it. Lack of compensation increases the feeling of resentment, which in turn feeds the unconscious and conscious desire for retribution.

How to forgive an insult?

Tellingly, the main strategies for overcoming resentment offered by Terry Gaspard of the Huffington Post are to take responsibility for a key problem. In general, both partners should openly discuss the problem and its cause, without denying each other's feelings, be sympathetic, try to forgive the offense and discuss such problems in the future. Psychologists agree that without this, resentment will begin to fester and eventually kill the relationship.

But the good news is that whether you're offended by a cruel comment, a high paycheck, disparity in housework, a lack of sexual interest, or anything else, this problem can be resolved. Dr. Steven Stosney of Psychology Today says the most important thing for a couple is to start talking about it, to replace resentment with compassion and empathy, essential elements of a good relationship. If you are unable to do this on your own, there is no shame in family counseling. Resentment-filled relationships don't heal themselves, but if you're willing to work on it, the prognosis is very good.

J. Thorpe


The topic of resentment towards men is one of the most difficult in psychology. Usually it is associated with the theme of betrayal, deceit by a man, ignoring, depreciating, not keeping promises, and so on. Helping a woman in such a situation is sometimes very difficult, because she does not see herself in this problem. Feelings of injustice, bitterness, indignation, wounded female pride, self-righteousness, superiority over a man, condemnation of his immoral behavior, baseness and weakness of his character fill the mind and seem natural. But not everything we feel is best for us, and the above feelings are just one of those. What can be the consequences of this position if a woman gets stuck in it, and how to avoid the destructive effect of resentment, and will be discussed in this article.

If you are a wife who has been honestly faithful to her husband for 20 years, ran a household, raised children, and at the same time managed to carry work for herself, then the news that her husband has a young mistress will most likely be devastating - devastating for you. Or not even a mistress appeared, but he just corresponded with someone in Viber, with an innocent look "we have nothing with her." And sometimes it’s the other way around, he says: “It was just sex, and it didn’t mean anything to me.” Or the man made it clear that you can count on his help, and at the last moment it turns out that he has other plans. The reaction to all these situations is different in intensity, but the same in essence. Pain, disappointment, abandonment. And at the same time - a strong offense. It stays inside and builds up over time.

A psychologist who in this situation immediately advises looking for the causes of what happened in himself runs the risk of running into rudeness from his client. “Are you saying that I myself am also to blame for the fact that I was deceived?” It is as if the person is confronted with his own helplessness. And at the beginning of working with this topic, you really need to be very tactful, sensitive, and careful. It is necessary to find and respond to feelings, and then to find out what beliefs and thoughts are behind these feelings. Because feelings don't come out of nowhere.

Resentment as an experience

Where to attribute resentment - to emotions, feelings, states or decisions, there is no unambiguous agreement between psychologists. What I like the most is the definition of resentment as a reaction to something that is unfair from the point of view of the offended. But unequivocally, resentment is an internal event that belongs to the emotional-sensory sphere of a person, only it is a complex, complex emotion, consisting of several. The components of resentment are anger, frustration, pain, and helplessness. A characteristic feature of resentment is that a person keeps it in himself and does not show it in any way. He seeks to cut off communication with the offender and distance himself in a physical or psychological sense. At the same time, an impulse of revenge ripens inside him, and the person begins to fantasize about how this revenge will be carried out. In the most severe case, suicide can be such a form of revenge, as a last resort to draw the attention of the offender to his wrong and make him repent of his actions.

The internal mechanics of resentment

Psychologists note that different people are prone to resentment to varying degrees, and that being offended is a kind of habit that goes back to early childhood. Resentment is not an emotion as such. The main characteristic of an emotion is its fluidity, provided that a person feels free to express himself in actions: cry if sad, fight if angry, run away and hide if scared. If a person performs some verbal or physical actions, the energy of emotion burns out in these processes, and new energy comes in its place. This is the main principle of experiencing feelings, and the main condition for emotional and physical health. In the case of resentment, a person feels pain, and the energy of anger is naturally generated in him, which is necessary as fuel in order to influence the situation and get rid of pain.

But if the emotional energy of anger meets the belief or thought that no action can lead to a satisfactory result, then the motivation to do something disappears. A child feeling helpless can only hide in a corner and pout to demonstrate his disagreement. Thus, he accumulates energy within himself, only this energy is not useful. One of the metaphors for resentment is burning coals that a person picks up in the palm of his hand, waiting for the right moment to throw them at the offender, but burning himself in the process. At that moment, when he restrains the aggressive impulse in himself by the effort of consciousness, the active energy of aggression (yang) passes into the passive form of the energy of resentment (yin). This encapsulated gunpowder is placed inside the person himself and starts destructive work there, corroding and burning from the inside his health and his soul. “Grievances are a poison that we ourselves take in the hope that another will be poisoned,” says folk wisdom. Therefore, resentment is not an emotion, but rather an act of holding back one's emotion.

Resentment and expectations

In order for the emotions of pain and disappointment to be activated, it is necessary that before this a person experiences certain pleasant expectations. For example, if we go to donate blood, we do not expect that it will be comfortable, and accordingly, we are not disappointed. Expectations, in turn, are either the result of an agreement or the result of socially formed stereotypes. For example, there is such an expectation as: “a husband must always be faithful to his wife, help her, take care of her needs, support her for the rest of her life, help with a child, and in general, all the time and resources of a man should belong exclusively to the family.” This is a common social stereotype among women. At the same time, what conditions are necessary for this expectation to come true (and in general, whether it is realistic) is out of the question.

But let's think about these conditions. Firstly, a man must be an ideal human being who does not make mistakes, does not have complexes. He must be able to understand a woman and her needs, earn good money, not need rest, friends and impressions, and, in addition, be able to deal with children. And if you come across one, please let me know. And secondly, nothing is said about the fact that the wife is on the other end and she also owes something. And in this place, a very, very rare woman is able to see that maybe she, for her part, is also not the ideal embodiment of male dreams? Even if she doesn’t go to the left (although sometimes she wants to), she brings up children and maintains a household, perhaps the role of a wife is more multifaceted and complex? An offended woman, as a rule, firmly stands on the conviction that, for her part, she did everything that was required of her. But she ran into injustice and baseness on the other side.

Resentment and who is for whom

In my therapeutic experience, the deepest resentment occurred when a woman married a man mainly because he cared for her very well during the courtship stage and showed attention and love. And she had the expectation that it would always be so. And it was a good situation to give birth and raise a child with this person. I'm not sure if you see this, but from the point of view of psychology, this position is consumerist, and in the center of this family is a woman and her fetus, a child. And if in such a family a man is suddenly suspected of treason, then this begins there! But there is another type of situation. When a woman knows exactly what she has chosen and wants to be with this man. She sees in him value, important qualities and talents, in his work - meaning, in his ideas - a valuable grain and breadth of views (even wider than her own). She is pleased to be useful to him, to participate with him in something joint. And when an inaccurate treatment “flies” from such a man, then the situation is different.

By the way, I must say that I don't know a single man who would always behave perfectly towards his woman. Like in a joke about an ideal man: such a man does not drink beer, does not hang out on the Internet, does not scatter socks, does not infuriate - and does not exist. It is a fact of life that it is difficult for men and women to understand each other, and the woman who expects her husband to understand her as well as her best friend will inevitably be disappointed. Therefore, leaving the possibility in a relationship that someday you will have to “run into” incorrect treatment is a realistic and mature approach to the project of family life. Another thing is that in this situation you need to react. And before entering into a serious relationship, you should take a closer look at whether a man is ready to recognize the equality of a woman's value in a union, and her right to respectful treatment.

Resentment and forgiveness

In any spiritual tradition, resentment is considered a completely unharmonious state that blocks contact with the spiritual source, and it is recommended to remove it from the soul by forgiving one's offender. For all the harmfulness of the state of resentment, the silent and humble forgiveness of tyranny or deceit in relation to oneself, from the point of view of psychology, leads to the state of the victim, as well as to the adoption of the position that "others have the right to treat me as they please. " And this is hardly compatible with high self-esteem, safety and comfort. Therefore, it is so important to be able to understand and express your emotions and your needs, and do it in a respectful manner for the interlocutor, without reproaches and insults. It is important to be able to express how painful or unpleasant this or that treatment was, to be able to explain why this is so, what meanings stand behind certain actions (insignificance, insignificance, lack of love, values).

Another important skill that is often lacking in dealing with resentment is the ability to recognize a deeper unmet need. People can hang long and passionately in experiencing their resentment and savoring injustice, but it is much more difficult to realize and admit that in fact they want to receive attention, affection, recognition, and the like from the offender. To do this, you need to admit to yourself that this person is very important to you, and you need something from him. This is no longer a position of strength, but a position of request and vulnerability. To admit that I need something from you is sometimes unspeakably difficult, but without this it is impossible to get what you want and achieve a harmonious state.

If the situation of resentment was discussed, needs were expressed, requests were formulated, tears were shed, and some answer was received from the other side, then forgiveness comes by itself, because a sincere person does not strive to remain in a state of resentment for a long time. If a woman knows for sure that being with this man is her decision, she strives to do the work associated with emotional unloading as quickly as possible. She knows how to see that the good that is in the relationship is immeasurably greater than the negative associated with the situation of resentment. Another thing is when a woman sees in a man a convenient source of resources for the realization of her family project. Then a betrayal or another attempt by a man to have his own needs that are not related to the family will be mercilessly punished by resentment, which in this case will be a mechanism for controlling the behavior of another person. Such a woman will not strive to be free from resentment, because in this case she loses her only leverage of pressure on her husband.

Resentment and gratitude

The destructive effect of resentment is not only that it destroys the physical health of a person, but also that it destroys the weaving of relationships in a couple. Moreover, the offended person is sure that he did everything for the relationship, but the offending partner is the true destructor. But a very important factor for maintaining relationships is the ability to feel gratitude for what the partner does in the family. Gratitude is a fairly advanced feeling, from the point of view of psychology, because in order to experience it, a person must have some personal maturity and understand that, firstly, it can be worse, and secondly, that no one owes anything to anyone. It is the child who takes care of the parent and does not thank, and the adult accepts the contribution of another adult with the understanding that this contribution was a product of the free will of the person, and this choice must be recognized. Gratitude is the recognition that a person could not do something, but chose to do it, and this made your life easier and more enjoyable due to his contribution. It is the presence of gratitude between partners that many psychologists find as a key factor in maintaining and satisfying family life.

What does resentment do? Unexpressed, silent resentment blocks the ability to thank in the psyche, because the source of goodness (read, husband) does not deserve gratitude for anything after his incorrect act. Not only that, he also deserves to be reproached, criticized, insulted, and so on. But a spouse is always a combination of the good that he brings to the family, and the bad that he does not succeed in, for which he lacks abilities and skills. If you block the ability to see the good in yourself by falling into a state of resentment, then, without nourishment and recognition, the constructive contribution will become less and less, and the shortage will grow. And both spouses will take part in this dynamic.

Through mutual silence, distancing, coldness and indifference, a funnel of revenge and resentment begins to unwind, which sometimes grows to gigantic proportions over the years of marriage. Many couples turn to a psychologist at a time when this funnel is already on the verge of turning into an insurmountable abyss. In one session, they expect to correct what has accumulated for decades between spouses. And that, of course, turns out to be impossible.

How to use the energy of resentment for development

So how do you stop resentment from ruining your health and relationships? To begin with, one must learn to distinguish that under the state of resentment nest, firstly, unexpressed aggression, secondly, an unsatisfied need, and thirdly, a sense of injustice.

For the implementation of aggression, it is very important to take an active position and not to hush up discomfort and pain. It is important to convey a story about your feelings and experiences to the one who provoked them. Channel your frenzy into finding the right words, but communicate without reproaches, accusations, and criticism. If possible, try to agree on how a similar conflict in the future will be resolved differently. If this does not work out, in some cases it becomes necessary to break off the relationship, overcoming fear.

Then look at yourself and ask yourself, what do I really want from him? What needs do I expect to be met? And most importantly - why can't I satisfy this need for myself? Look for opportunities to change in yourself, in increasing your own maturity, self-love, and self-care.

What to do with the feeling of injustice? Resist the desire to wallow in pride, do not let go of the good that is dear to you in this relationship. Seek psychological help, and resist the desire for revenge. Ask yourself: maybe I also don’t see something, I don’t know how, I didn’t take enough measures to prevent this from happening? Channel your energy into exploring your relationship and looking for holes that are long overdue for patching.

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