Take a read through this article and see how many of these causes for resentment in marriage you identify with. While this may not be a checklist you want to score well on it may be useful to know what specifically needs work from you as well as your spouse.

One contributes more than the other.

Between household chores, time with the children, the school run, and the financial contribution to running a household, there are many areas in a marriage where one may feel that they are doing more than their fair share and the other is not pulling their weight. There are also times when one partner feels they are actively building the marriage more intentionally than the other.

When partners do not have the time, words, or emotional reserves to clearly explain how they are feeling in their relationship this type of resentment slowly accumulates and builds on itself.

Try this:

Sit down once a week with a weekly planner and discuss the plans and expectations each of you has for the week. Talk about when you will spend time together doing things you enjoy.

Allowing the phone to suck up your time.

Are there any rules or understandings in your home on what happens with phones around dinner time? Always having your phone, in your hand or at the table, ready to divert your attention away from your marriage with every notification can be a problem.

Also, if you find yourself regularly checking it throughout times that are set aside for personal relationships between you, the message to your spouse is clear: They are not as important as whatever is on your phone.

Try this:

Create a phone bowl or box where the muted phones are placed once family time starts in the evening. Some couples allow themselves a 10-minute break mid-way through to reply to messages once the children are down. See what works for you.

Not enjoying enough sex.

It is best to be clear with your spouse about how you are feeling about sex. There are many reasons for a lack of sex in a relationship. It could be that one of you feels burnt out or has a lower sex drive. It may be that the new beard you have grown is a major turn-off, or that you’ve neglected another part of your personal grooming.

If you and your spouse are not communicating personally it may mean that you build up bad habits around your sexual relationship. If this is not closely considered resentment may creep in.

Try this:

Plan a regular sex night. Set a regular time once or twice a week, when you both expect to enjoy sex with one another. On these nights be sure to come to bed on time and prioritize your partner.

Taking the gloves off when you fight.

Have you ever felt that maybe you run your mouth off too much when arguing with your spouse, and you fight less often? Yes, that may help, however, you may be surprised to learn that experts say what really helps is learning to fight better.

This means learning how to fight and includes:

  • Not fearing conflict, which can be an opportunity to grow together
  • Tackling the issue, and not the person is far more effective and less destructive than calling the other person names and bringing them down
  • Staying on point, and not getting distracted by highlighting how wrong the other person is
  • Dealing with the issue, not the symptoms (For example, if the bath towel is on the floor again, is it the towel or is it the fact that they take you for granted?)
  • Not minimizing the issue. For something to be an issue in marriage, only one partner needs to think that it is one. So be sure to acknowledge what your partner is saying.
  • Not withdrawing, or pursuing your partner when they withdraw. Do not confuse this with taking a time out to wrap your head around the issue. People find they withdraw from conflict when they are being aggressively attacked, or are just not interested to try to maintain their own autonomy, control, and distance. Studies show a link between withdrawing from conflict and lower levels of satisfaction in a relationship.

Try this:

Use what is known as, “I” statements: “When (this happens), I feel (discouraged and disappointed). At the time what I needed was…”

Acting as if your spouse is not as important as you are.

Do you or your spouse speak down to the other? When this happens to you, it likely raises feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and self-doubt. It is not healthy to act in a way that threatens or negates the independence of your marriage partner. Feeling like your spouse is managing you can quickly raise feelings of resentment.

Try this:

Next time your spouse does something differently from how you would have done it, consider whether it is a major or a minor issue. Remember to bring up the major issues and not stress about the small stuff.

Involving other people in your marriage.

You may have experienced this in high school or less serious relationships, but talking down about your partner to your friends and family can do significant damage to the trust they give you. The relationship that you create together is weakened by allowing other people to poke their heads around it and give their two cents. Remember that sharing confidential information with others can humiliate and hurt your partner.

Try this:

If you need to speak frankly or vent to someone consider speaking to a professional therapist or a counselor.

Downplaying the things they do right.

As Gary Chapman points out in the Five Love Languages each person is tuned to receive and recognize love, and often it is different from how our spouses want to express it. Even if you’d prefer them to tell you that they love you and think you’re beautiful, thank them for sweeping the kitchen floor or doing the school run too.

Try this:

Keep celebrating the wins, but instead of answering in a mismatched fashion, do the work and understand how your spouse best recognizes love. Show them that you love them in that way. With a full love tank, they will have more capacity to love you in return.

Not giving sex as a way to punish them.

While women often need emotional intimacy to enjoy sex, men express their emotional intimacy through sex. Understand that refusing sex as a bargaining chip is not a negotiation tool, rather it is blackmail that prevents the benefits of building emotional intimacy with your spouse.

Try this:

Discuss with your partner the value of your sexual relationship and how to steward it together.

Finding ways to change our spouses.

Some people may think the marriage day is the first day of recreating their spouse into the person of their dreams. While every person can change it is better to focus on the changes needed in your own life rather than your spouse’s behaviors.

Try this:

Learn to accept your spouse while encouraging growth together. A counselor is a great unbiased resource in this area.

Making key calls without considering their opinion.

This is especially common in the area of money in marriages. Deciding how to spend the money that you earn may be within your rights, but does it show that you value the role that your spouse plays as your partner?

Money often equals power, and showing that you care enough to balance the power between you and your spouse is one way to strengthen the harmony of your relationship. If you’re making an important purchase your partner deserves their views to be heard before it happens.

This consideration can also be seen in how your and your spouse spend your time, such as signing up your children for soccer or spontaneously inviting guests for dinner.

Try this:

When you next notice something, like the need for a family holiday or a renovation, talk to your partner.

Christian counseling can help you overcome resentment in marriage.

If you’re looking for additional help to overcome resentment in marriage, browse our online counselor directory or contact our office to find out how we can help you. We would be honored to walk with you on this journey.

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