No relationship is perfect. There will be many times where resentment in a relationship may be an issue. How do you handle these feelings in a healthy way?
It’s amazing how quickly people forget relationships are hard. Maintaining a healthy balance, actively keeping things lively, coping with change, and handling major issues all take a toll on a relationship. And handling resentment in a relationship takes hard work.
It’s similar to a magician’s trick of not letting any of the spinning plates fall. When one aspect of the relationship becomes strained, it affects the other aspects, just like if a magician focuses on one plate too much, the other ones start to tumble.
And it’s during those tumbles that people develop feelings of resentment. Perhaps your partner betrayed your trust, or maybe you did the trust breaking. Whatever the case, the feeling of being betrayed by your partner is a strong one, especially if you’ve been together for years.
How to handle feelings of resentment
The sting is far more difficult to deal with. Resentment may brew, and lead to worse choices, if not handled right away. But what are some healthy, helpful ways to handle these dark feelings?
#1 Get over what your partner said while angry. It’s true, there’s a line you simply don’t cross. It’s abusive, it’s mean, it’s damaging. And yet, there will be those random occasions where things get so heated, that it’s inevitable. Even the best of couples have said terrible things to each other. It doesn’t mean that it’s okay. It means it happens.
If you focus too much on what anyone says while angry, you’ll never sleep at night. Whatever they said, chances are they don’t mean it. If they do, they don’t mean it in the way it came across. Letting go of those painful words is the first step to dealing with anger and resentment. Just make sure this issue isn’t a reoccurring one, and that the line is clearly defined. Otherwise, you risk having an emotionally abusive relationship. [Read: 21 big signs of emotional abuse you may be overlooking]
#2 Give each other the floor to just explain your side, get feelings out, vent, etc. This is definitely one of the most important steps to take when learning to handle resentment in a relationship. Venting may seem too much like complaining, but at the end of the day, you’re both just letting out the negative feelings, while explaining yourself to the other person. When people feel like they’ve explained themselves, and been heard, they tend to calm down, and think clearer.
#3 Know when to give each other space. The other side of number two is to know when to back off. Just because you vent, and explain yourself, doesn’t mean you need to do it right away, all the time.
Depending on what occurred, sometimes you both need to back away, and let each other breathe. It’s not about putting things on hold, it’s about acknowledging when you both need time to think about the situation, so you can handle it correctly. [Read: How to give space in a relationship and not drift apart]
#4 Avoid retaliation or revenge. Depending on what happened, you may feel very upset, and in dire need to retaliate. Nothing good comes out of this, just a worse issue or a breakup.
Retaliation is for teenagers, solutions are for adults. It doesn’t matter if your partner committed your version of the unpardonable sin, the point is, revenge is best when it’s not served at all. Let them cope with the storm they’ve stirred through their actions, that’s punishment enough alone. [Read: How to handle a complicated relationship and find success]
#5 See the other side of the coin, because there always is one. Since you’re resentful at this point, the last thing you’ve considered is their side of the story. However, it is equally as important as yours, and you might find that they didn’t commit their actions out of bad intentions. If they did, they still deserve for you to fully comprehend the issue. If not for them, do it so you see all sides of the issue.
#6 Make peace with the events. Look back at what happened, compare it to now. See the bigger picture if you want to truly handle resentment in a relationship the right way. If the issue occurred a while ago, and you’re still resentful, perhaps take a moment to look at the bigger picture.
Let your mind wander to the time the issue first presented itself. What did you do? What did your partner do? What happened? How are things different now? They’re always different, for better or worse. It helps to see how far, or low, you’ve come since then. On the other hand, if the issue just occurred, remember to do this in a month or two. [Read: 15 quick ways to fix a broken relationship and make it last]
#7 Answer one main question. Is what happened forgivable, or is it worth more than what you and your partner have had up until this occurred? At the end of the day, you’re in a relationship with this person for a reason. If you’ve been together a long time, all the more reason to consider this.
You might find that the issue seems small when put into perspective. You could also find it seems even bigger than you previously thought. Depending on your particular circumstance, this might be the defining moment where you answer truthfully. [Read: 20 signs you should break up and throw in the towel]
#8 Reach a compromise. If you made it past seven, congratulations, it means you’re ready to try and move on from this, because your relationship is more important to you than the issue. The only proper way to handle resentment in a relationship and find a solution is through a compromise.
Clearly, if your partner did something you disapprove of, then they feel differently about the issue. Find the common ground that works best for both of you. For instance, if your partner prefers more time by themselves, but you prefer more time bonding with them, find the amount of time you’re both comfortable with. [Read: How to compromise in a relationship without feeling like you’re losing]
If your partner has issues opening up, but you want them to be an open book, designate a time in which you both talk openly, but don’t force this outside of that time slot.
If the issue is more serious, like cheating, then think of it this way: they did it to fill a void. When people cheat, it’s because they’re missing something in their current romantic state. What is your partner missing that you haven’t been providing? And what do you expect from them in return? [Read: How to forgive a cheater: 8 questions to face the betrayal]
#9 Do something ceremonial to let the past go. This may sound rather childish, but it’s actually quite helpful. For instance, if your partner kept a dark secret from you for a long time, betraying your trust, the ceremony serves as a way to throw away anything related to that secret. It’s a form of both closure, and of saying “we’re leaving the past here, and moving forward together, because we’re serious about this.”
#10 Accept the fact you’ll have to do this a lot over the course of time. It sounds awful, but again, many people forget relationships are hard. While being in a relationship can be fun, exciting, hilarious, adventurous, or even motivating, nothing good comes easy.
More than that, we’re all human. Mistakes happen. The more you love someone, the more they can hurt you. It’s part of the package, there’s no way around it, no matter who you’re with.
Resentment in a relationship is an unsettling feeling. It’s anger, pain, and confusion. Sometimes, dealing with all those feelings gets in the way of your relationship. The key to dealing with this in a healthy way is to leave selfishness and pride at the door.
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Jennifer is a writer, director, consultant and author, with a passion for all things literary. While she works on a variety of projects at a time, her one true ...