You know the feeling. You’re so mad you can’t see straight. Looking at him only amplifies the hurt. You’re seething underneath the silence. There’s an invisible wall between you. Whatever your husband has done he just does not seem to get how angry it makes you! But you can’t talk about it right now. The wound is too fresh. The words are too acidic. The self-control just isn’t there. So you hold it in and try to process the emotions internally on your own. Eventually you calm down, get over it, and move on. Everything goes back to normal.
Except you didn’t really get over it, huh? The next time he does it, it hurts even more and is even more infuriating. This is because you never really dealt with the issue. Resentment has grown in your marriage like an infected sore.
Resentment is not good for any relationship. It’s a sign that conflict between the two individuals (in this case, husband and wife) was not handled or resolved in a healthy manner. Maybe you thought it was resolved because the conflict went away. Did you want to avoid the hard work and high emotions it takes to work through the issue altogether? Conflict is hard girl!! Really it just flat out sucks. But as Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott say in their resources, conflict is actually healthy for a marriage. It just has to be handled in a healthy way.
Tips for a wife handling Resentment in Marriage
It’s been said that you communicate the worst with the people you know the best. You’re comfortable and secure enough with them that you let the raw emotions shine forth in all their glory 😉 which sometimes means you lose your ever loving mind lol! Ohhh! You’ve been there too? Good to know I’m not alone. I love him but he sees the best and worst of me LOL!
Communication in its simplest form is sending and receiving information. And this is key in preventing resentment in the first place! But for today’s purposes we are past the initial communication. You couldn’t communicate with him about it because of all the raw emotions. And now, trying to communicate when handling recognized resentment is even harder. Why? Because there’s even more emotion behind the words. Therefore, the key to communicating through resentment in marriage is to send your information with as many facts as possible, as little finger pointing (literal & figurative) as possible, and deep, deep breaths. 😉
Before diving into the conversation to work through your issue and dissolve the resentment, make sure you have your facts straight. This reduces the raw emotions that can tend to overspill. Speaking facts will make communication more efficient and less…hostile. Think through what happened, your feelings, and make sure you’re bringing factual truth to the table and not your opinions. For example, what other people thought or how they reacted to the situation is your perception. You can’t change that and it’s not a fact so it’s best left out of the communication.
This is a fantastic practice when communicating through an issue that has caused resentment in your marriage. Finger pointing doesn’t have to be a literal finger wagging in the face to be annoying and harmful to the relationship. Using sentences that start with “you…” are accusatory and just as irritating as the actual finger.
Instead of saying “You embarrass me all the time! You did it last night at the party, pointing at the food on my face and laughing at me in front of everyone!!” change it to something more like this, “I feel like an embarrassment when you point and laugh at me in public, like last night at the party and last month when we were shopping and I asked the associate something. Do you remember that?” Begin your complaints with “I”.
This is a rearranged form the Parrott’s XYZ formula. “In situation X, when you do Y, I feel Z.” I’ve always found that turning that sentence around backwards to “I feel Z when you do Y in situation X” comes across as less accusatory and my husband’s defenses aren’t automatically thrown up and ready to defend himself.
Why are you resentful? We’ve determined that you never really addressed the issue and worked through it and that’s why the resentment is there. Sometimes that’s not the only part of the “why?” though. As hard as it is, you’re going to need to take a look at your past.
I can get very defensive when I feel patronized. Growing up I never felt good enough for my dad. I put a very high pressure on myself to be as close to perfect as possible. Gee, I wonder how that turned out. not. I never really measured up to the standards or received the praise that I was so desperately looking for. Because of that unmet need and the insecurities that it bred, I turned resentful any time I was scolded. Analyze how you were raised as a child and look for any connections to the current emotion. Your husband’s actions could very well just be the trigger to feeling resentment you have against someone else or insecurities inside yourself.
What does it mean to put yourself in someone else’s shoes? And how hard is it to actually understand the “enemy’s” perspective?! Whoaaa, first we must remember, this man is not your enemy. He is your good hearted husband that loves you. It might take a self pep talk to convince yourself you have a good man. For help with this, visit some of these related posts:
Now that you’re reminded of the good qualities your husband has and that, yes, you have love for this
jerk man it’s time to try to understand his perspective of the conflict. Mentally recap only the facts of the situation. What actually happened? As you recap, evaluate each statement you make as to whether or not it’s fact or opinion. Have you injected your opinion into your mental replay? If so, strip it out. Remember you’re trying to see HIS point of view so you’ve got to remove your own from this.
Then ask yourself what his possible opinions could’ve been. Maybe he just didn’t feel like pizza again since you had it twice last week (conflict over where to eat anyone?!)? Is there something from his childhood that’s influencing his behavior (ohhhh, he gets that from his dad!)? Did he have a hard week at work and it’s coming out as conflict at home because he can’t resolve the conflict at work? His relationship with you is his closest and most comfortable. That means he feels safest with you so he may be (unintentionally) taking his frustrations out on you.
I’m not saying he has permission to abuse you. Please don’t hear that. What I’m saying is there are two sides to every story. As a truly devoted wife, seeing your husband’s side of things is very important. Empathy plays a big part in resolving resentment because you’re working to understanding his feelings. Not only that, but actually share in feeling them. And if we as wives can better understand where our husband is coming from, isn’t it easier to work towards a solution that fits everyone’s needs? Result = diffused resentment.
Aww, the opposite of resentment. Forgiveness is this absurd, unnatural idea of letting someone off the hook when they don’t deserve it. It also has this absurd, unnatural reaction of freeing the person who chose to forgive. It really has nothing to do with the other person who wronged you. I’ve gone through this first hand. It’s not easy to forgive someone when there are thousands of dollars involved and the person shows absolutely no signs of remorse.
It starts with simply telling yourself that you’re going to forgive them. I can’t tell you how long I had to tell myself that on a daily basis before I started actually feeling the forgiveness. I still get chills when I think about it. I could feel the issue matter less and less. My heart letting go. Like I said, it’s absolutely absurd and unnatural and completely beautiful. Freedom.
You have to make the assertive decision to forgive. Decide that you’re tired of feeling the resentment and anger then consistently talk yourself into forgiving. Little by little you will let go and replace the resentment with peace.
Resentment in Your Marriage – The Hard Part
Now for the hard part, the application. Is there some hurt in your heart that was caused by your husband? Have you been holding on to it for a while? I want to encourage you to take some time to pray through this, do some soul searching and self analysis, and work through the issue. Don’t let fear stop you from communicating with the man you’re spending the rest of your life with. Handling resentment might be difficult but you have tools now to untangle it to leave room for the amazing love to shine through again.
Praying for you friend!