How To Break The Cycle Of Resentment In Your Relationship
When you decided to go 50/50 on making a baby with your partner, you probably had some fantasy about an equal distribution of labor. So did she. Oh, how cute and innocent you were back then. Back before you noticed that you are always the one who has to dump the diaper pail. And she noticed that she’s the one who always has to get dinner ready. All of which makes both of you feel as if the deal is now more like 70/30. And you’re both doing the 70.
Not only are you guys bad at math, you’re probably also starting a cycle of resentment. Unlike a fun cycle (like the ones preceded by motor and soul), a cycle of resentment won’t put wind in your hair or give you a nice ass. It will however eventually poison your partnership. Here’s how to get rid of the cycle of resentment and get back to being a team.
Recognizing The Cycle
This is pretty much the easy part. Resentment is essentially an ongoing feeling of emotional upset due to some kind of perceived injustice.
Injustice sounds intense. But when your partner asks if you can go run an errand and you get all butt-hurt because you did such-and-such earlier in the day, that is exactly what you are feeling. And that feeling of injustice makes you act like a sad, grumpy jerk.
In response, you may withhold affection. You might get snippy. This, in turn, will make your partner feel resentful, particularly if they feel they’re carrying much of the load. Soon one resentment triggers the other and your relationship starts circling the drain.
Meanwhile, your sponge of a kid is witnessing and feeling all of this. Time to get to the bottom of it.
Breaking The Cycle
At some point, you’re going to need to communicate about how you’re feeling. But the important part is that you’re not going to do that when you actually have all of the feels. You’re going to calm down and recognize your place in what’s going down.flickr / Guian Bolisay
Look At Your Feelings First
You can’t talk until you put a fine point on what the cycle looks like for you. Yeah. You gotta do some work to make this better. Sorry. Grab a sheet of paper and figure out the following:
- Find out what your partner did or didn’t do that sparked your resentment
- Understand what it is you truly want that wasn’t being met to spark the resentment. Do you want to be recognized? Appreciated? Found more desirable? Of course, you do. Look at you, man. You’re a desirable guy.
- Recognize the negative feelings that are sparked when your wants aren’t met. Be more specific than, “My partner’s being a B.”
- Name your reaction to the event. Look at your behavior and be honest about what you do in response.
Talk It Over
Now that you have all the information, you’re going to bring it to the table. This means you have to be honest and vulnerable. Which means that the hardest part might be revealing your softest part. No, bro. Not that part. Your heart. Do it like this:
- Explain why you’re bringing this up, (i.e. you want to stop the cycle).
- Acknowledge your part in the cycle.
- Explain why you feel resentful sometimes, using “I statements”. Own your feelings: “I feel resentful when…”
- Apologize if you’ve been a dick.
- Show empathy for the way your partner feels.
Make A Real Change
Once you’ve had this (hopefully) heartfelt talk with your partner, it’s time to be mindful about the way you approach your daily life. The fact is that you are not capable of changing anything your partner does. But, you can totally choose to act and react differently. You know that you are both working towards the same goal: raising an awesome kid.
So give them the benefit of the doubt. And try to shift your perspective. Know this deal was never really going to be 50/50. It’s going to shift throughout your life. And that’s what being in a partnership is all about.