How To Get Over Resentment in a Relationship

Resolving Resentments

Problem: I need to get over the resentment in my relationship so that we can move past them

Case Study

How to Get Over Resentment in a RelationshipRex came for counselling because he wanted to learn how to deal with issues of resentment about him that his wife couldn’t get over. “My wife is always bringing up issues from the past that I believe should be left in the past,” he told me. “It is starting to affect our relationship, as I get angry when she brings up things again and again, that I have already apologised for, things that I thought were resolved. My friends tell me that women tend to do this, but why?”

Rex added that this issue was now becoming huge because his wife had told him she was considering ending their marriage. “She said she doesn’t want to live like this, always feeling resentful and never being able to get past old stuff, even after I apologise,” he told me sadly. “She used to be my best friend, but now it seems we have become enemies. How did this happen? What can I do to help her?”

Karen’s Assessment: Past Resentments Are brought up in Times of Conflict

Marriages end for three main reasons: Unresolved resentments (past hurts), ineffective communication (that results in the resentments getting worse, not better) and not showing love to your partner in a way that is meaningful to them.

Resentments often get brought up again at times of conflict. Even an issue that you thought was resolved, and it might well have been, can be resurrected during conflict because the pain (of conflict) is being felt in the present tense, and the brain remembers occasions from the past, when that same emotional pain was experienced (for example, feeling let down, or humiliated). This is much the same process as occurs when you identify a smell – your brains races through its store of memories to identify what this particular sensation is.

Typically it is the woman who is accused of “bringing up the past”. It is true that women have a larger hippocampus, an area of the brain that stores memory to which an emotion is attached. (This is the reason women remember all those important dates – such as the date of the first kiss, anniversaries, birthdays etc.)

However, men have been known to also bring up resentments to startled wives, as men will usually store them all and say nothing much until suddenly there is a time of unloading! Women tend to try to resolve issues along the way by bringing up the topic to discuss. Husbands dread hearing the sentence, “We need to talk.”

Summary: Keeping resentments in the past, is learning how to resolve present tense issues

Resentments are not about events or incidents that happened in the past, they are about the feelings that were experienced at the time of the event. The key to keeping past events in the past, is learning how to resolve present tense issues, every time.

Do you want to become a Bestmate again, or even a Soulmate?

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If either you or your partner are hanging on to resentments, you may discover that you have become a bit distant, and this may mean you are now just a Housemate.

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