Decide To Deal With Resentment
ACKNOWLEDGE the issue causing resentment
REMEMBER skills that work for you
EXECUTE a plan to forgive, or ask forgiveness

Offending Partner: DECIDE what to do

What you as the Offending Partner can decide

Are you the offending partner? Or does your spouse see you as the offending partner? If the answer to either of these questions is “yes”, you should strongly consider changing your own behavior before it is too late. Men especially tend to ignore obvious signs of resentment in their wife. They wrongly reason that it will blow over. Then they wind up in my office crestfallen because their wives has now kicked them out. When I asked if there had been warning signs, many men say things like “yes…but I figured she was going through menopause,” or “well,, you know women..they are always complaining about something.”

But, wise partners take the resentments of their partners seriously and don’t want them to fester. Research shows that resentment lives in a part of the brain where long term memory is stored. These memories are very resistant to change. So if your partner has a grievance, it first goes to short term memory. You should deal with it while in short term memory so it is resolved. If it transfers to the long term memory banks, you are in much more trouble!

Decide to stop the behavior that is causing resentment in your relationship

Example: Steve

Steve and Ann were constantly fighting over money. Steve was a good guy, a local basketball coach who had no sense of money management. He was the main wage earner and earned a very good living. But he also was the guy who took his team out of town and bought meals for everybody..just put it on their credit card….much to his wife’s dismay who handled the books back home. They were $50,000 in debt with no end in sight. Ann was fuming. But the more she complained, the more he spent like a defiant little boy. And the more he spent, the more she complained.

In marriage therapy, I advised Steve that unless he did something about it, his marriage might not survive. At first, Steve was defensive and in denial about the whole thing, but eventually decided he work with his wife and do something about the situation. He became mindful that unless something changed, the marriage may not survive.

Example: Victoria

Victoria was a lovely young wife who loved to get home early from work, pick up her little girl at day care, and then drink martinis until her husband got home from his air-conditioning business at about 7:30pm. By then, she was usually sloshed and had called her mother to come over to help care for the child. Her husband, Ben, deeply resented her behavior but the more he demanded she quit, the more she defiantly drank. He evenly arranged an “intervention” (confrontation by relatives) to try and convince her to go to treatment. She denied that she drank “that much” and argued that she never missed a day of work, and that she was lonely because he got home so late.

He finally had to leave her. Of course, a heated battle followed for custody of their child. She finally saw the gravity of the situation should her stubbornness continue. Once sober, she asked Ben for forgiveness, and they decided to start over with firm boundaries regarding alcohol consumption which had caused so much resentment in Ben.