Everyone has resentments. It is a normal part of the human experience. The challenge with resentments is they can build up causing people to become contemptuous, especially in intimate relationships
A resentment forms when a person feels bitter at having an expectation or a need that is not met in their relationship. A lot of times it feels as though the issue causing one to be resentful is about one's partner; however, most often the resentment stems from deeper issues from one's childhood (i.e., being ignored by a primary caregiver, therefore feeling frustrated when they feel ignored by their partner).
Holding onto resentments can prove to be toxic in a relationship as contempt can be incredibly damaging to the coupleship.As part of the couples work we do in our sexual/relationship recovery program, we have each person in the coupleship write a resentment letter to share with each other (in session) . Writing and sharing a resentment letter can surprisingly be incredibly healing for a relationship; however, the couple has to be stable enough to do this or the assignment can backfire.
The assignment entails making a list of the following:
Resentments; "I resent......"
Regrets; "I regret...."
Appreciations; "I appreciate...."
Forgiveness (which in my world means "Letting Go"); "I forgive...."
Note: If the person is not ready to let go or forgive, they may say, "I am working on letting go of...."
Each person takes a turn sharing their letter while the other person listens. This is not the time to argue with what the other person has said. Once they have each read it, we review how each person feels and each person acknowledges their spouse in some way (i.e.," thank you for sharing").
Some of the feedback I have heard couples give related to the resentment letter assignment includes:
"It hurt to hear her/his resentments but I really loved hearing all that she/he appreciates about me"
"While it was hard to hear what he/she resents, it felt good to know that he/she is willing to work on letting them go."
"I don't agree with the resentments and feel attacked."
"I was surprised at all his/her regrets related to themselves."
"I felt sad at hearing what he/she regretted."
Once we "clear the air" so to speak, I encourage couples to use Gottman's gentle start-ups and daily 5:1 postive/negative ratio, as long as building their relationship bank accounts in hopes that by doing so daily it is easy to manage and resolve conflicts and resentments as they arise.
You are going to feel resentful. What is important to remember is how you work through your resentments instead of letting them fester.
Remember, you are worth it.
Visit: https://www.namasteadvice.com/services/ to find out about our sexual/relationship recovery program.
Men's 6-Week Essentials To Recovery Group starts July 31st! Register today! https://www.smore.com/smwct
Coming Sept 2017! Gottman 8-Week Couples Class. https://www.smore.com/b0ewx