My parents have been married for 28 years and are still very, very much in love. Sometimes to the point of embarrassment. As a child I found the constant hand holding and kisses goodbye every morning soppy and a little bit gross. However, now as an adult I can appreciate the fact that they’re in love and happy.
One night we were gossiping about married couples that they knew and relationships that didn’t work and I asked them why they think these relationships failed and what sets a relationship like theirs apart from others? Their answer: Resentment.
Resentment is one of the biggest relationship killers with similes such as “bitterness,” “hostility,” and “irritation”, resentment is often thought of as the foundation of hatred.
Resenting a partner isn’t as simple as feeling irritated by them at times. It’s a feeling that slowly grows with any unaddressed difficulties. A 2015 study that examined gender differences in self esteem based on a partner’s success or failure, found that heterosexual men sometimes feel subconscious distress and resentment when their female partners succeed.
Another 2015 study found that cultural expectations about women, housework, and child care were still forces that may create serious relationship issues. One partner in the couple doing more household chores than the other can also lead to feelings of resentment.
So how can you prevent resentment from ruining your relationship?
Talk it out
Since resentment is a feeling that grows after a long period of time it’s important to make sure that you’re open with your partner and talk about things that you are feeling. If something is worrying you let your partner know what you’re thinking instead of letting the feelings stew away inside.
Psychologists have found it’s important to acknowledge your part in a conflict instead of blaming it all on the other person. By acknowledging your part in a conflict it makes it easier for both parties to forgive and forget. This will allow the relationship to grow and move forward positively.
Apologise to your partner when appropriate
When you’re in the wrong it’s important to apologise. This lets your partner know that their feelings are valid and that you care about how they are feeling.
Empathy is one of the most useful tools in a relationship. It can help you see your partners point of view and make decisions based on that. It’s easy to get caught up in your own life so it’s important to stop and think for a moment about how the other person is feeling.
Treat your partner with respect
“Treat others who you yourself would like to be treated”. As cliche’as this quote may be it is true. Respect is big part of a relationship and you shouldn’t belittle your partner or talk to them in a way that you wouldn’t like to be talked to.