Time and time again, we become disappointed with our partners when they don’t meet our expectations. When this becomes a pattern over time, resentment ensues and the romance and connection with our loved one dwindles.
Merriam-Webster defines resentment as “a feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury.” Resentment occurs when we think our partner will behave in a certain way, but they don’t.
By learning some ways to prevent this anger and resentment from occurring, the couple’s bond and connection will remain strong.
An example of this is a woman who cooks, cleans and works full-time and becomes increasingly upset and resents the fact that her husband doesn’t take out the trash. She expects her husband to perform this task and when he doesn’t she may do it herself. She is left with feelings of annoyance and resentment that her husband “should” know better. Some of her thoughts may be “I work all day and he can’t even take out the trash,” or “I do everything around here and he is worthless.”
Prevent Resentment With Communication
Something is missing in this equation, however. The missing link is… communication. The wife could simply tell her husband how she feels and what she needs from him. If she had a conversation with him about needing him to help more around the house, and if she is concrete in what she needs him to do, he is more likely to perform these tasks.
What this example shows is that one simply needs to communicate their wants and needs instead of expecting their partner to be a mind reader. We can’t expect our partners to know our every wish and expectation. We need to be explicit in expressing our needs. It may even be helpful to create visual schedules to show our partner what our particular needs are, for example: Tuesdays and Fridays are trash days, wash laundry on Saturdays, etc.
Couples counseling may be especially helpful in dealing with communication issues between couples. Counseling has been proven effective in teaching couples how to speak to one another about their feelings without placing blame on the other partner.
Overall, resentment in relationships is built upon poor communication. This can be addressed and prevented by being clear about what we need from the other person. Anger and disconnection will eventually ensue when we expect our partner to know what we’re thinking. Couples counseling may be a good choice when facing difficulty with communication and anger in your relationship.
Lauren Farley, MA, LPC