**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a former client, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
After years of complaining, a wife finally gets what she wants — a helpful husband. He makes the bed in the morning, cooks dinner at night, and even helps with the laundry. But instead of feeling relieved, she finds herself more resentful than ever.
“I used to ask him for help constantly, and his eyes would glaze over,” she remembers. “Now he’s doing all these helpful things around the house, but it doesn’t make me feel any better. I actually feel worse.”
Resentment set in, and the wife realized why. She felt that her husband’s gesture was not genuine — it was out of obligation, not love, which left her feeling unappreciated and unheard.
“What about all those times when I worked long hours and still had to pick up after him and the kids? It’s like he never paid attention,” she sighs. “He takes what I do for granted and doesn’t think twice about it.”
After years of inaction, my client’s husband appeared to have turned over a new leaf, but she wasn’t buying it. “The damage is already done,” she says. “It’s too late for him to come in and try to make it up.”
This phenomenon is more common than you’d think. If your partner has a history of not helping out around the house, it can be challenging to let go of that resentment.
Resentment can be destructive.
“Resentment is the result of a perception that someone has treated you unfairly. Although the person you resent may not have intentionally meant to harm you, their actions or words may cause you to feel intense disappointment.” — Kimberly Drake, PsychCentral
Regardless of which partner feels resentful and why it can be harmful to the relationship. Without open communication and understanding, resentment can fester and lead to more severe issues.
Sometimes resentment sets in without us even noticing. It’s essential to be mindful of our feelings and constructively express them. Passive aggression, agitation, lack of empathy, and treating the other person as if they are the problem can make matters worse.
Talk to your partner and try to get to the root of why you feel resentment. Doing so can help ensure that this time around, it won’t have a lasting impact on your relationship.
And if you’re on the receiving end of resentment, try to understand where your partner is coming from. Listen to their concerns and be patient as you work together towards a better relationship.
Boundaries, compromise, and managing expectations
“Repeating gripes or arguments in our mind is a sign of resentment or “re-sent” anger. Admitting we’re angry, followed by acceptance, prepares us for a constructive response.” — Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT
The resentment my client felt did not happen overnight. In the beginning, she struggled to express her feelings and set boundaries.
Respecting each other’s feelings is essential in any relationship, especially when setting expectations. Compromise can help both partners find a solution that works for everyone.
In my client’s case, she thought her husband’s newfound helpfulness was too little too late. But eventually, she was able to come to terms with it and work on rebuilding their relationship.
The bottom line is that we all have feelings, and sometimes those feelings can lead to resentment. In a healthy relationship, both partners need to be willing to communicate openly, respect each other’s boundaries, and meet halfway. Only then can relationships be repaired and resentment overcome.
Do you have any tips or advice on how to deal with resentment in a relationship? Feel free to share them in the comments.