Resentment and anger in relationships often stem from utter dismay at how your spouse could have possibly done what they did. You just can’t understand it — you never would have done such a thing.
It’s like there’s an invisible wall between you and your partner. Each of you is annoyed or even outraged at the other’s behavior. You think your spouse’s actions are unfair. They think your actions are ridiculous. You don’t feel connected, emotionally or physically. In fact, even though you’re inhabiting the same space, it feels like there are miles between you. And you’re withdrawing more and more from each other. Maybe you even feel like roommates.
Although of course there are times when anger and resentment are appropriate and justified, often they built on a foundation of distorted belief that others should or must act the way you want them to. If you allow yourself to become angry or resentful whenever situations don’t go the way you prefer, then you are effectively giving control of your feelings to others. It’s similar to using a remote control to change channels on the TV. If your feelings depend on how other people behave, you are giving them the remote control to your emotions.
There are specific actions you can take to address feelings of anger and resentment in more healthy and helpful ways:
Practice identifying and allowing yourself to feel the underlying emotions that anger may be superimposed upon — such as hurt or fear:
Strive to be present with and accept these feelings and the vulnerability they elicit.
Practice expressing anger and resentment differently:
Share these feelings with safe, supportive individuals whom you trust. Journal or write about them. Discharge them through physical activity by working out, taking a walk or run, going for a hike, or playing a sport. If appropriate to the situation, participate in activities that promote social and economic justice and other forms of nonviolent activism.
Resist the urge to be a channel for the anger and resentment of others:
The anger and resentment of others can be seductive — they can have an almost magnetic pull. Don’t buy into it; resist the urge to join in their negativity or participate in gossip.
Practice applying the understanding that unless you’ve learned how to change the past, it’s as good as it’s ever going to get:
Find ways to remind yourself of this whenever you need to — you don’t have to like what’s happening in the present or has happened in the past in order to accept it. And acceptance will free your attention and energy from the shackles of anger and resentment, enabling you to be more skillful in the present.
Identify how you may have contributed to the situation(s) that you are angry or resentful about:
Be aware that people (including you) frequently play a part in the circumstances about which they are angry and/or resentful.