Dealing With Resentment in Relationships: A 6-Step Guide

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Author Name: Mia Barnes
Date: Friday August 27, 2021

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Holding onto instead of dealing with resentment in relationships is like adding a dash of arsenic to your morning coffee. You might not notice the difference much at first, but over time, the poison destroys you. 

If you don’t address the situation, it will fester like an untreated wound until a fight erupts. Remember, you and your partner came together for a reason — it’s healthier to work out your differences calmly and rationally. Here’s your 6-step guide for dealing with resentment in relationships. 

1. Spend Time in Mindfulness

Before you address your concerns with your mate, you need to examine your feelings and motivations. Doing so helps you get to the root of the matter and help prevent those dreaded repeated arguments that never solve anything. Often, couples fight about day-to-day issues instead of tackling the underlying problems creating ongoing resentment in their relationship. 

Set aside at least a full uninterrupted hour to think — but please remember, there is no timeline. If you value your relationship, it might take you several days, even weeks, before you get to the heart of what’s bothering you. Ask yourself the following questions, perhaps writing your answers in a journal to clarify your thoughts: 

  • Do you fully trust your partner? If you lack trust because of a past betrayal, it’s challenging to get it back. If, conversely, you’re plagued by insecure ghosts from past relationships, it’s on you to exorcise them by visiting a therapist. 
  • What do you want that you aren’t receiving? Resentment can fester over seemingly small things. Perhaps your partner’s habit of leaving dirty dishes and laundry everywhere after you just cleaned makes you burn inside — to you, their carelessness feels like they don’t respect your contributions. 
  • Have you changed, or has your partner? Everyone changes with time. If you and your partner have grown apart, mindfully examine how you have each evolved without passing judgment. 
  • What do you want your future to look like with your partner? You want things to improve — but how? Are you tired of a weekly date and wishing to discuss cohabitation or marriage? Conversely, are they accelerating the pace faster than you feel comfortable? 
  • Can you accept that your partner may not change? Perhaps the toughest part of this exercise is embracing the radical acceptance that your partner may not change. If your resentment stems from wanting a life partner while they’re content to continue the dating game, recognizing that you can’t change them can help you decide whether to stay or go. 

2. Set a Date With Your Mate

Once you’ve identified the underlying cause of your resentment in your relationship, it’s time to approach things with your mate. However, rushing into the discussion the moment they arrive home from a hectic day at work can backfire. 

To facilitate open and honest communication, set a date when you know you will both feel less stressed. Friday night is an ideal time for many. You’re free from workweek pressures, and you have the weekend to heal your heart if things don’t go the way you’d wish. 


3. Select Neutral Territory  

Real estate agents talk about location, location, location, but it matters for the big relationship discussions as much as it does when buying a home. If you cohabitate, your living room might be the ideal private place. 

However, if you haven’t yet moved in together, select a neutral location, such as a quiet park corner, to have your chat. Doing so creates an even playing field for both parties, whereas going to one pad or another could make you feel off-kilter or put you on the defensive. 

4. Practice Your Active Listening Skills 

You might have a lot to say to your partner, but it’s vital to listen, too. Take some time to brush up on your active listening skills before you chat. Doing so helps you tune into nonverbal cues that can sometimes reveal more than the words your partner says. 

When addressing your concerns, use “I” language so that you don’t sound like you are accusing your partner of anything. Instead of saying, “Why did you lie about wanting a commitment when you clearly prefer to date,” practice, “I want a relationship leading to marriage — do you feel the same way?” 

5. Commit to a Joint Resolution

If you and your partner are on the same page, commit to a plan. Maybe they didn’t realize how much second-shift labor you do and agree to pick up the slack around the house. Perhaps they say that they do want to cohabitate, and they’ll start sorting their belongings to prepare for the happy transition. 

However, the hard part occurs when you can’t see eye-to-eye. Perhaps your mate confesses that they may never be the marrying type — are you willing to give up your lifelong dream of a grand church wedding? While it’s frightening to leave a relationship that doesn’t fulfill your needs, staying when your partner announces they will not change is a choice. If you decide to stay, it isn’t fair to hold resentment against your partner for their reluctance to commit. 

6. Check Your Temperature Periodically

Expressing your resentment and forming a resolution isn’t enough if nothing substantially changes. You’ll still feel resentment — you need to periodically take your temperature to see how you are both feeling. 

Ensure you understand the difference between a boundary and an ultimatum. The latter seeks to control your partner, while the former says, “I will not let you control me.” It’s one thing to say you aren’t interested in pursuing a dead-end relationship. It’s quite another to say, “Marry me, or I will leave and take our child with me.” 


Follow This 6-Step Guide for Managing Resentment in Your Relationships 

If you let negative feelings fester toward your partner, it can poison your bond. Please follow this 6-step guide for dealing with resentment in relationships. 

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