How To Know If You’re Stuck In Resentment — Before It Destroys Your Relationship

Your anger and bitterness is harming your relationship, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy about your future.

Couple in white clothing gently snuggling in front of a dark green wall Standret / shutterstock

Are you worried that resentment is going to destroy your relationship, but also feel justified in having that resentment? A lot of couples struggle with this, due to perceived issues with their partner.

Resentment can leave you feeling angry and bitter all the time. And that can seriously hamper your connection with your spouse.

No one likes to feel wronged, discriminated against, unrecognized, unappreciated, taken for granted, taken advantage of, or devalued. If this happens, resentment toward the other person can develop.


RELATED: How To Save Your Relationship & Your Money If Paying For Everything Is Making You Resentful

Resentment can fester inside you 

You can believe that someone has “wronged” you over something they did. However, there are times when people misunderstand the circumstances or believe that someone intentionally hurt them, even if they didn't mean to.


Couples need to learn how to slow down and speak to each other about what has happened to see if it is an intentional or unintentional action.

Resentment in relationships can happen quickly when issues are not addressed and built up. There may be a lack of repair or an ineffective attempt at addressing the issue.

When there is a certain spirit of unfairness and unequal distribution of power and equality in a relationship, it's a prime breeding ground for you and your partner to resent one another. There are endless reasons it can begin, and it's important to recognize how to spot possible problems.

RELATED: 3 Sneaky Signs Anger Has Taken Over Your Life (& You Don't Even Realize It)


Here are five issues that cause resentment in a relationship

1. There's an imbalance in the shared responsibilities

For instance, in a heterosexual relationship when the woman is taking care of the kids, while her partner is playing games, hanging out with friends, or relaxing.

2. A partner delays responses to requests for help

One spouse asks for help — whether it's with a chore or some other issue — but instead of helping the other spouse gives an excuse to delay assisting them.

This typically happens with responses like, “The show is almost over,” or, “I’m almost done…” or, “I’ll be there in a minute.” But then, minutes or even hours go by, and the partner never comes to help.

3. Forgetting important dates or events

Your partner forgets something very important to you — such as your birthday or anniversary — and then downplays it without repairing it.


For example, if your husband forgets your birthday, and then instead of offering a means to fix it says, “Why are you making such a big deal out of this?”

4. A lack of forgiveness and understanding

This occurs sometimes when a partner brings up your flaws or mistakes over and over again, and won’t forgive you for past hurts.

You will eventually feel like you're paying for this mistake the entire length of the relationship, which will poison your connection to one another.

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5. One or both partners hold onto their anger and hurt 

If one person in a relationship holds in their feelings and doesn't address things that are bothering them until you have an argument, it may seem like all the frustrations, annoyances, and hurts that have not been addressed for months are brought up and dumped out.


This can cause the other person to feel attacked and sidelined. After all, if you had all of these issues, why didn't you bring them up when they happened?

Resentment can be about any topic, but the most frequent arguments that cause resentment are money, children, time spent on relaxing activities, and housework.

What does it mean to resent someone?

Resentment might happen after just one event, though more frequently it occurs after repeatedly feeling uncared for and disrespected. You may be resentful if you don’t discuss how you feel about a situation, or when you discuss your perceptions and are dismissed or ignored.

The first three years after a baby is born is a notorious time for couples to be unhappy. In Dr. John Gottman’s research, he reports that 67 percent of new parents are very unhappy during this time.


There are many reasons why this happens. When one or both partners do not feel appreciated, their contentment decreases.

For example, when the father says he’s tired after sleeping through the entire night, while the mother was up three or four times changing the baby’s diaper or feeding them, it is easy for her to feel resentment.

This is especially true if she doesn't mention this feeling to her husband, and instead holds it in.


How do you stop resenting your partner in a relationship?

If you're wondering, “Can I really stop resenting my partner?” The answer is yes. Usually, couples need to repair the situation by working through what has happened and making a plan for it not to occur anymore.

With an action plan and a commitment to act and talk to each other differently, then resentment can stop in a relationship.

Resentment develops when couples ignore their feelings

From there, problems arise and require conflict resolution. When couples fail to solve their conflicts, a sense of resentment begins to emerge. Resentment increases when someone feels their feelings are discounted, not heard, manipulated, shamed, or judged.

You can work through resentment with a partner if you can address the problems head-on and decide to change this pattern of allowing resentment to build up and destroy your harmony.


RELATED: How To Stop Feeling So Angry All The Time — And Start Manifesting Love Instead

Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC is a licensed counselor and a Certified Gottman Couples Therapist and PACT Level 3 who works with couples to develop more secure attachment styles for healthy, happy relationships.