Resentment between Partners and How to Let it Go

Resentment between partners and how to deal with it by Temple Obike

Resentment between partners and how to kill it is a discussion that i think is long overdue. The oxford dictionary describes resentment as;

Resentment

/rɪˈzɛntm(ə)nt/

noun : bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly.

However, my real world definition is this. Resentment is that strong sense of hate, fear, disgust or internal rage humans feel towards an individual whose perceived to have treated them unfairly. This usually isn’t about anything done momentarily but more of accumulated greviances. 

The dangerous thing about resentment is that sometimes it comes with a sprinkle of revenge. When you start getting angry over little things metted out by your partner, friend, family members or even an employer and harboring bitterness you could be struggling with resentment.

LET US UNDERSTAND RESENTMENT

When you are not allowed to process or explore your emotions after a traumatic experience, resentment builds up. This could be genuine, contrived or mal-alligned injustice, a grudge or simple anger resulting from criticism. Resentment victims usually feels ashamed or too angry to talk about how they feel. Rather, they let their anger fester and then express it sometime down the line as anger. 

A person experiencing resentment may feel personally victimized but may be too angry or ashamed to discuss the resulting emotions, instead allowing the grudge to fester and be expressed in the form of anger.

HOW TO RECOGNIZE RESENTMENT

There are various forms by which resentment shows up. These may not be the totally applicable to everyone but could signal the presence of this emotion. 

  • Anger concerning a particular Event

  • An inability to stop pondering over an event

  • Full regrets about an event

  • Avoiding Conflict with your partner despite the anger you feel

  • Friction Within Relationships

  • Feelings of Inadequacy

Resentment could dissappear after a properly tendered apology from the subject or after self-realization of how mistaken you were about an event but more often than not, it hangs over you like a dark cloud. You find out that a part of you may desire to hurt the person who caused you the perceived pain. In some cases, a resentful partner looks lie they keep feeding off the anger that builds up within them after they revisit the event or hold on to that negative emotion. This is the point it compromises your health.

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YOUR HEALTH CAN BE COMPROMISED

Anger is an emotion a lot of people feel almost ocassionally but the point i want to extract from this statement is this. Resentment persists and festers when people fail to even recognize it’s presence because it always covers itself up as anger.

Scenarios:

1)A person who has been cheated on by a partner even though they were faithful may find it difficult to move on from the deep hurt

2) A man whose wife has been insensitive and verbally abusive may have received an apology but finds out he can’t move beyond the deep anger

3) In classic cases, women who have endured physical abuse from a partner find it very hard to let go of resentment even after they may have received an apology.

What i Discovered about Resentment

Here are some commonalities i discovered over the years with all my clients who struggled with this feeling.

  1. They were not willing to acknowledge the feeling responsible for their resentful stance but rather blamed the other party for having put them in this situation.

  2. Their resentful feeling is being used as a psychoactive drug to intoxicate them and fuel rage which gives a false sense of power

  3. They never communicate properly with the subject but rather fester this emotion to a point of hatred.

Resentment in Relationships

After years of being in a relationship there’s bound to be a number of things your spouse may have done or approached wrongly. Some of them may have been discussed, others may have not but here are a few of the reasons resentment gets introduced in relationships;

Medical Reasons: When you got married or began a relationship, everything was going on well but your partner suddenly gets diagnosed with a severe health concern. This automatically changes everything with most but not everyone caught up in this especially if their emotional, physical and psychological needs aren’t being met. Frustration gradually mounts and if not tackled, it could become full blown resentment

Children vs Productivity: It seems quite harsh of me to even think of putting them on this list. Unfortunately studies and my personal experience with clients have shown that when a mother of father has to be available for the children at the expense of their productivity, it could trigger a subtle anger that bubbles away just below your consciousness. This usually becomes obvious the moment a measure of business or career success is recorded by the partner who isn’t as fluid with their career or business due to committments associated with taking cae of the family.

One-sided Control Dynamic: When one of the partners in a marriage feel like they are consistently suppressed, ignored or made to feel like they are not contributing to the marriage. When this situation is sustained in a marriage or relationship over an extended period, it introduces resentment to a union.

Abuse: Verbal, emotional and physical abuse are one of the sure-fire ways to introduce resentment to your marriage of relationship. Show me a man, woman or employer who is abusive in their relationship and i will point out an individual who may have introduced resentment into their marriage or work-space. If you and your partner do NOT communicate, you may have a resentful partner by your side.


 

LET ME TEACH YOU HOW TO LET GO OF RESENTMENT

I have spoken to over Four Hundred Individuals in the course of my career and the two things that break down resentment are Forgiveness and Communication.

Communication: Resentment builds up when you or your partner have driven your marriage to a point where communication isn’t flowing freely anymore. When you can talk about anything and succesfully resolve it with your partner you have no reason to harbour resentment. When you and your partner communicate your feelings using active listening skills or under a professional couple counseling environment.

Forgiveness: The moment you decide to forgive anyone who has offended you, building up resentment won’t be even a consideration. This is the only way to fight resentment without communication. 

Practical Things to DO:

Activity 1: Explore Your Emotion- This is usually the time i ask clients to understand why they feel resentment. After this, the next step is getting in touch with how you also feel anytime you think about letting go of the intense pain. When you have been resentful over a period, it could become immersive and suck you in. 

The saddest part about being sucked into resentment is that after a while it forms a big part of your identity. Letting go of that anger and disgust triggers a fear of identity loss.  

Activity 2: Tell Yourself the Truth About Associated Negativity- There are strong negative emotions that linger for people who struggle with resentment. Many hold on to anger, disgust and regrets for their partner and because these emotions could become overwhelming providing a false sense of security. They sometimes spread outward. 

When most resentful persons see external individuals who seem to excel in areas they or their relationships struggle with, it triggers feelings of insecurity, self-loathing, anger, envy or discouragement. Telling yourself this truth about the negative emotions you feel will help you tackle this emotion because if left unchecked, it would wear you down over a period.

Activity 3: Be Empathic – Most bouts of resentment are centered around an individual as the subject. When this happens, applying a bit of empathy could help you resolve this emotion. Putting yourself in the persons shoes surely helps in reducing the resentful feelings harboured.

Activity 4: Practice Gratitude – When you understand what you have going for you, you will know theres a lot to be thankful for. When you also focus on the good, you loose sight of the bad. Never be someone who forgets about the great things that has happened to them because even a human in the most dire circumstances have some good in their life. It helps you see whatever triggered your feelings of resentment as a passing phase. 

Activity 5: Self Actualization – Self-actualization is the final stage of development in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which i quickly listed below for you. This stage occurs when a person is able to take full advantage of their talents while still being mindful of their limitations.

  • Basic physiological needs such as food, shelter, and sleep.

  • Safety needs such as security, stability, and order. 

  • Social needs such as love, belonging, and friendship. 

  • Esteem needs include acceptance by others, a sense of achievement, and independence. 

  • Cognitive needs such as intellectual fulfillment and knowledge. 

  • Aesthetic needs include harmony, balance, and beauty.

  • Self-actualization is the goal of human development and occurs when a person meets his or her full potential. Self-actualized people are joyful, empathetic, giving, and fulfilled.

The term is also used colloquially to refer to an enlightened maturity characterized by the achievement of goals, acceptance of oneself, and an ability to self-assess in a realistic and positive way. Self-actualization can be explored when fighting resentment.


Ignoring resentment can make you a bitter and toxic person who may not be able to hold down relationshps with other people. Try and reach out to a therapist near you if you battle with resentment. This will help you explore the issue and circumstances that caused the resentment, why you are finding it difficult to let go and what coping strategies you can use in navigating this period.

If you are struggling with resentment let’s talk real soon as our topic today “Resentment between partners and how to let it go” is a serious one. There is absolutely no shame in seeking help because an attempt to handle this all by yourself could end up breaking up your marriage, relationships and career. Reach us and we could schedule an appointment to help you resolve this.

Written by Obike Temple

A Psychotherapist, counselor and entrepreneur who has counseled over four-hundred couples, individuals, substance abuse and grief-stricken clients with 25,000plus in-counseling minutes. For more information on related issues and to schedule an appointment with “Temple’s Counsel”  visit our counseling page, chat us up via our website or send a whatsapp message to +2348109055475.

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