5 Ways to Cut Resentment and Bitterness from Your Relationship
Resentment is an emotion that can hurt a relationship and erode your intimacy. Even the most loving couples can harbor resentment for one another.
“There is no healthy place for resentment in our life, it is a thief,” says relationship coach Jodi Livon. “When we feel resentment we harbor dark feelings about something or someone and unless we consciously release those feelings, they continue to steal our light.”
We’ve asked experts about how to drop the resentment and feel the love.
Stay in the present
Breaking free of your resentments with others requires a commitment to staying in the present moment, says Shirin Peykar, M.A. LMFT, a psychotherapist in Los Angeles. She advises that every time you find yourself thinking about the past and the ways in which you were wronged, bring yourself back to the moment. “It can be helpful to focus on your senses as a way to come out of your mind and into the moment,” Peykar says.
Shift your communication strategy
Rather than focusing on what’s wrong, share with your partner what’s wonderful. “This often changes the dynamic in a relationship from tension, blame and defensiveness to understanding and closeness,
says Peykar. “From this space, your partner will be more inclined to hear you, validate you, and express their responsibility for the issues in the relationship as well. You will also be able to communicate your resentments in a healthier way from this space.”
Stop keeping score
Relationships aren’t competitions; nobody wins unless everybody wins. “If we’re accustomed to keeping score in our relationships, changing that habit takes a bit of practice,” says Donna Cameron, author of A Year of Living Kindly: Choices That Will Change Your Life and the World Around You. “The way to do it is to keep our eyes on the real prize: peace of mind, happiness, and appreciation of our friends and loved ones. If we can do that, we’ll find that we are spending less time keeping score and more time counting our blessings.” She also says it’s incredibly freeing to give without any expectation of reward or return, and to interact without keeping score — it frees the mind from grudges and resentments, and creates a space to enjoy the people and abundance in our lives.
Speak your truth
Most of the time people are not communicating their needs effectively and clearly, so their partner doesn’t even know these needs exist. “Think of a wife cleaning up after dinner while her husband sits on the couch browsing news articles on his phone. The wife is fuming, but doesn’t say a word,” explains Rebecca Newton, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Redondo Beach, CA . “She’s trapped in her own internal world of resentment and anger.” Instead Newton suggests she say: “Hey this is your responsibility, too.”
“Then, it puts that need into his awareness,” Newton continues. She says a loving partner will help out. “If your partner continues to avoid meeting your needs even when you are communicating them effectively then you have a bigger problem on your hands,” she adds.
Consider speaking to a therapist
Turning to a professional is also a helpful option. “Using a therapist can be helpful because all of these issues can be addressed in a safe space where emotions can be processed and deeper healing can occur,” says Gina L. Spielman, LCSW, CH, is a licensed clinical social worker and certified hypnotist. “Being open to and participating in spiritual work can often help clear up resentments and judgments, creating profound shifts in perception, getting one to see things in completely different lights.”