Ken felt like he did everything in his relationship. He works long hours to provide enough money to support his family. When he comes home from work, his wife, Sherie, is out with her friends, at the gym or otherwise doing her own thing. Ken usually comes home hungry and too hungry kids. Ken then cleans the kitchen, takes the dog out and makes dinner. After dinner, he cleans the kitchen and helps his children with their homework.
After the children are bathed and in bed, his wife usually comes home. He is exhausted and resentful. What about his needs? Why doesn’t he count? Instead of saying anything, he gives his wife the cold shoulder and falls asleep.
Meanwhile, his wife, Sherie, is resentful because she gave up her education and her career to be a stay at home mother. At first, she enjoyed it. Over time, she felt unstimulated and unchallenged. Instead of telling Ken that she wanted to go back to work, she kept it in and became resentful. She plans her time so that she is not home when Ken is home. Both Ken and Sherie have grown distant from resentment, and neither feel that they have the right to talk about what they need. Both are afraid that they will be shut down or dismissed.
Resentment can be challenging to speak about. Not talking about your anger or resentment can destroy your relationship.
1. Understand what you need
Sometimes people are so used to putting their needs behind others that they do not even know what they need. In an ideal situation, what would you need from your partner? Do you need more time? More division of labour or more affection?
2. Put your needs forward in a compassionate way
When people don’t say what they need, resentment builds. You can tell your partner what you need quite merely by saying how it benefits the relationship.
“Would you mind making dinner once a week so we can have more time to spend together?”
“I really like it when you are affectionate with me; it brings us closer as a couple.”
3. Don’t give what you can’t or don’t want to give
Expectations can lead to us feeling like we will be letting our partner down if we don’t overgive. Examples are going into debt to buy an expensive gift or not setting time aside for yourself. When we give when we don’t want to give, we might resent the other person. There are times when compromise can be spoken about. For example, “We both would like time for the gym. Can we work out a schedule that works for both of us?” One-sided relationships do not work.
4. Control and power
Where are you feeling out of control in your relationship? How much control do you need, and are you being controlled or controlling your partner? Most people do not like to be controlled.
5. Don’t avoid conflict.
Conflict, if handled appropriately, can help resolve underlying issues. Don’t put your feelings and needs aside to avoid conflict. This will only lead to more anger and resentment. If you don’t feel safe talking about your needs and feelings, ask your partner when a good time to talk would be.
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Although I am a registered clinical psychologist with the Hong Kong Society of Counseling and Psychology, I am not a licensed psychologist or any other type of licensed therapist in the United States. The information I am providing here is educational and informational. This social media page does not provide professional advice, nor does it create a professional-client relationship or any other type of relationship between us. You should always consult your own licensed mental health professional before making any changes regarding your mental health. My goal is to educate, guide, consult, and empower you regarding your mental health journey. Always consult your licensed mental healthcare provider(s) and never disregard or delay medical advice based on information posted on this page or post.