Resentment is poison to any relationship. If you let it simmer inside you, it will eventually boil over and you will explode like Vesuvio. And your relationship may not survive. At best, it will get buried in the rubble, and you’ll have to dig it out and nurse it back to health, which could take a lot of time and energy. What would be better is to keep the volcano in check by ridding of resentment from the start. Here are a few strategies:
- Unleash your anger. Don’t get me wrong. You can’t act like an animal by getting violent (which is illegal and simply wrong) or even yell or shout at your partner. But when you’re upset about something, you need to let it out. Stay calm and communicate what is bothering you and why. You may end up having an argument, but your feelings will be out in the open. It means the two of you can try to tackle the problem together. And there won’t be something festering inside you.
- Get better at communication. If you’re going to share what is making you angry, then you have to do it in the right way. Like I mentioned, you can’t just yell and scream or act out. If you do, you’ll have more in common with a 3-year-old than your own partner. Instead, you should practice good communication skills that have you calmly and collectively describing what you’re going through and how you arrived at this point while also giving your partner a chance to respond. Then, you must also be a great listener, which means actually hearing and understanding what the other person is saying. Repeat it back to make sure. It takes lots of practice, but you’ll eventually get there if you’re committed to it. Good communication skills will help you with all your relationships and not just the romantic ones.
- Know when to walk away. Sometimes, you need a time out when you are angry or resentment is building inside you. Otherwise, you will explode and those communication skills – no matter how great – will get thrown out the window. So, go for a walk. Work out your feelings. Figure out what you’re going to say before addressing the anger with your partner. Don’t wait until you are so mad that you can’t remember what set off the anger in the first place. But give yourself a pause and walk away from the situation. It will not only give you a chance to cool off, but it can distract you for a bit. It gives your brain a break, too.
- Cut out the negativity. When you’re really upset about something, you start to have dark thoughts. Then, you hang out with friends and their dark thoughts become yours, too. One hot tip from many a couples therapist is to replace any negative thought you have about your partner with a positive one. It takes time to train your brain, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be glad you did. Trust me. I did it myself. My husband innocently forgot to bring home paper towels, which were on the grocery list, and I started thinking, “He’s always ignoring my needs. He is leaving stuff off the list to toy with me and chip away at our already shaken relationship.” You’d think I was exaggerating, but those are the kinds of leaps you make when you’re harboring resentment for your spouse. After you catch yourself having such thoughts and starting to get steamed, take a deep breath and shift your brain toward the time when you were dating and your now spouse showed up at your door with chicken soup and a smile because you had the flu. Try to always remind yourself about what brought you to this life with this person.
- Ask for help. If you can’t handle your anger and can’t get back to the positivity, you should seek professional help from a therapist. Frankly, even if your relationship is hopeless, you must deal with your anger. Otherwise, it will eat away at you until your unrecognizable.