Resentment is an insidious force that creeps into marriages and cripples them. It’s important to rid your marriage of any resentment that might exist, choosing instead to focus on your love for one another. But sometimes, resentment roots into your attitude toward your spouse anyway, and it takes work to weed it out again. If you feel that you resent your spouse, here are a few ways to hit the reset button.
1. Check in with your hard feelings.
How long have your hard feelings been festering? Are you feeling resentful about something that happened long ago, or something more recent? If you’re feeling that you resent your spouse, it can be helpful to check in with your feelings and root out their origin.
It’s not healthy to allow resentful feelings to simmer for months or even years. However, sometimes we’re more likely to feel badly toward our spouse because of something recent or unresolved. Determine whether you’re dealing with an unresolved conflict or whether you’re holding onto a grudge–because those are entirely different matters that require their own approach to resolve.
If it’s a grudge, you can do the work to move past it. But if there’s some sort of recent or unresolved conflict, then you and your spouse will need to work that out in a way that’s effective for you so you.
2. Do something kind for your spouse.
Showing kindness to your spouse when you feel badly toward them is a great method of neutralizing your resentment. Whether you choose to help them out at home or to surprise them with a nice gift or meal, go out of your way to be kind. You’ll be surprised how much better you’ll feel afterward.
Focusing on doing something special for your spouse turns your focus outward toward them. When we feel that we resent our spouse, we turn inward on our own pain. And, it can be difficult to get out of that pain once we’re in it. Performing an act of kindness or thoughtfulness toward your spouse could help you reset those hard feelings.
3. Revisit good memories.
When we’re focused on resentment, we can’t see the good in our spouse or our relationship. So revisit old photos, videos, and memories of you and your spouse. Let yourself enjoy those memories and remember how you felt during that time. Is there a way you can recreate that?
Get your spouse in on the action, sharing favorite memories and perhaps planning something special to do together. Give yourselves something to look forward to, and kick-start a habit of using the past to help you look toward the future.
4. Laugh with your spouse.
Laughter really is the best medicine. Finding things to laugh about with your husband or wife can help you reconnect in ways nothing else can. Sharing joy is a fantastic remedy for anger and resentment, so laugh together whenever you can. Tell funny stories. Watch movies that make you laugh. Reminisce about past funny experiences. Whatever it takes to put a smile on your faces, laugh together again.
5. Remember why you fell in love.
Ultimately, you married your spouse because you love them. So remember all the reasons you fell in love with them in the first place. Ask yourself whether the thing you resent your spouse for will even be an issue in a month or a year. Chances are, you will have both moved on from the conflict. You don’t want to carry resentment into the future.
If you need help navigating the prickly issues in marriage that sometimes lead to resentment, take a look at our book I Love You More. It’s possible to overcome resentment and get back to genuinely enjoying your marriage.
Have you ever resented your spouse? How did you move past it? Let us know in the comments.
Drs. Les and Leslie, thank you for the weekly encouragement to do the work required for our marriages to be the best they can be. So many of your posts deal with current issues in my marriage. You are sowing great seed for the Kingdom!
I recently heard someone say that it is always important to “make new good memories.” It wasn’t in the context of resetting resentment, but I think that it is absolutely a valid step!
God you for this awesome reminder,my husband and i have been married for 65 years we not only Love but we like each other thank you so much for the words of WISDOM.
How wonderful Eloise! God bless you and your husband and keep you healthy in this season.
What great advice! While this is addressing resentment in marriage, it will be very helpful in regards to all relationships. My father frequently advised me while growing up, especially when angry with my brothers and friends, “Kill them with kindness!” I realized years later that is scriptural!
Thank you for your great ministry.