Understand and Overcome Resentment in Your Relationship

Learn how to identify resentment and how to manage it to be happy in your relationship


Andra Enache

1/26/20243 min read

man and woman holding each other's hands
man and woman holding each other's hands

Are you feeling consistently irritated by your partner in a way that almost every action they take bothers you? You still love them, of course, this is why it’s so confusing. What is keeping you so irritated all the time?

Although you may not be recognising it - what you may feel is resentment. But no worry, you’re not alone! Resentment is a sneaky little emotion that can sometimes slip into even the healthiest relationships. It is much more common than you’d think.

So, how do we define resentment?

Resentment is a mix of emotions, such as anger, disappointment and hurt, that we feel when we perceive that an injustice or wrongdoing has been committed against us. Resentment is built over time, slowly and steadily, when we choose to not speak up.

Often people may not even be aware that what they feel is resentment because many times it’s manifested through things such as:

  • Passive-aggression: such as making sarcastic remarks or giving your partner the silent treatment instead of directly addressing what’s bothering you;

  • Scorekeeping: mentally keeping score of who did what and when turning your relationship into the absurd game of “who’s more powerful”?;

  • Avoidance: with the scope of protecting yourself from even more disappointment, you will simply avoid the topic and begin to distance yourself from your partner (physically or emotionally).

There are plenty of situations and behaviours that can bring resentment in your relationship, from the unequal distribution of household chores to financial disparities or simply external events that are affecting your relationship too, such as sickness or family problems. No matter the source of your resentment, if it’s not addressed, it can affect your relationship enormously, causing communication problems, increasing conflicts and creating more and more emotional distance between you and your partner.

This is why what is important here is to first become aware of the resentment that you hold. And accept it as something normal to feel.

Now that you are aware that you are feeling resentment, what can you do to manage it?

1. Self-reflection

It’s important to take some time to reflect on the root cause of your resentment. What are specific actions, behaviours or situations that trigger these feelings? Did you experience something similar in the past? If yes, how did you manage it?

There are no correct or wrong answers to these questions. What matters is that you understand better the root cause of what provokes this emotion in you.

2. Voice it out

What makes resentment so powerful is the fact that we keep it silent. Once you address it towards your partner, resentment will diminish. Communicating in an open way how you feel will help open the door for connection. Try to use “I” statements and avoid blaming your partner for how you feel. For example, instead of saying “You never help with anything”, you can say “I am feeling overwhelmed with all the household chores”.

3. Practice Empathy

Just because we are in a committed relationship, it doesn’t mean that we can currently read the other person’s mind. To be able to be in sync requires constantly trying to understand things from your partner’s perspective. They may not even realise that you’re harbouring resentment - so imagine the surprise if you explode! Focus on understanding their own experience and look together for solutions.

4. Set Boundaries

A lack of boundaries can easily lead you to build resentment. This is why is essential that you discuss roles, responsibilities and expectations openly, to ensure that you are both on the same page. Also keep in mind that these will evolve in time depending on how your life evolves, keep constant communication and see which systems work best for you as a couple.

5. Self-Care

Often you may feel resentment because you are too focused on other people’s needs. Try to prioritise self-care to manage your emotional well-being first. Make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation, where you can recharge and feel connected, without any responsibilities towards others. Self-care is different for everyone - see what brings YOU peace.

6. Work With a Professional

If you feel that you do not have the resources and tools to manage the overwhelming emotions, please do not hesitate to seek professional health. A trained coach or therapist can guide you in understanding how to manage your emotions and have more productive conversations with your partner.

In conclusion, dealing with resentment can be challenging and it’s an emotion that you should not try to avoid, but rather learn how to manage it in the best way possible. Do not beat yourself up for feeling resentment towards your partner - it does not mean that you don’t love them. Focus on recognising the causes of it and learn how to express it in a way that will help both of you grow in the relationship.

If you want to improve things in your relationship, let's work together! Contact me by email (andra.enache@gmail.com) or WhatsApp.