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Is Resentment Destroying Your Marriage?

Is Resentment Destroying Your Marriage?

I suffered a wound on my foot years ago, and although my nurse had shown me how to clean it, I was scared stiff of the pain involved. So I would gingerly swab around the area with a dash of antiseptic and call it a day. Your guess is as good as mine - the wound became sorely infected. My nurse was mortified when she came days later to check my progress. She had to scrape off layers of skin and give the wound a thorough clean.

Needless to say, the pain I was trying to dodge was multiplied in leaps and bounds. The wound also took longer to heal than it would have had I cleaned it well from the beginning. This is what resentment does to a marriage. When unresolved issues are left alone and swept under the rug, they don't magically disappear. They breed resentment in the long run and cause the marriage to fester. What's more? It takes extra effort and time to resolve the issue and make amends.

What Is Resentment in Marriage?

Resentment is the culmination of negative feelings toward your spouse, mainly caused by unresolved conflict and unmet expectations. This triggers bitterness, anger, disillusionment, and sometimes hostility. As resentment builds up, the aggrieved spouse may become less affectionate, irritable, hopeless, aggressive, withdrawn, and snobbish.

They may also start avoiding their partner, dodging sexual intimacy, and even comparing their spouse to others. As resentment builds up, it causes the couple to drift apart and may even cause the marriage to keel over. The Bible warns us against harboring unforgiveness and bitterness against each other.

"Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled." (Hebrews 12:15).

When couples allow issues to fester in their marriages, failing to extend grace and empathy to each other, resentment takes root and impacts negatively on the marriage. Resentment should, therefore, not be downplayed; it's a ticking time bomb. Paul warned the Galatian church that a little leaven leavens the whole lump (Galatians 5:9). Seeing that resentment is detrimental to a marriage, here are five ways to stamp it out.

1. Prioritize Communication

"Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1:18)

God values communication with His beloved children. We commune with him through prayer and reading the Scriptures. We cannot claim to have fellowship with Him if we do not constantly commune with Him. Just as God invites us to reason with Him, couples should also prioritize communication if they are to build healthy marriages. Prompt and effective communication is a critical pillar in marriage. It shows respect and honesty, builds intimacy, and fosters trust. Poor or delayed communication is the chief root of resentment. There are various reasons why couples gloss over communication.

-Assuming that their spouse can read their mind

-Not setting apart one on one time to check in on each other and connect

-Wanting to avoid quarrels

-Downplaying the issue at hand

-Strong feelings of anger/disappointment over the issues involved

It is prudent to share the issue bothering you with your spouse instead of wishing it away or hoping they can figure it out themselves. Besides, as you converse and hear your spouse out, you may even discover that you had misunderstood them in the first place.

2. Extend Forgiveness

"Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering. Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do." (Colossians 3: 12-13)

Here's a fact - no marriage can stand the test of time without forgiveness. Remember that marriage is a union of two people raised in different settings, bearing differing attitudes and temperaments. As such, spouses are bound to bump heads every so often. Forgiveness, therefore, needs to be an integral component of any marriage. From the scriptures, we realize that forgiving others is not a suggestion or a request. It is, in fact, a command. Jesus warned that if we do not forgive men their sins, neither will the father forgive us (Mathew 6:14).

Granted, sometimes it's not easy to forgive your spouse, especially when the mistake is very grave. In such times, it's okay to seek professional help and to be patient with yourself. However, remember that forgiveness is not a feeling but a decision you make. There may be times when you decide to forgive and trust God to alleviate your feelings and heal your heart.

3. Ditch the Untasty Habit Triggering Resentment

After paving the way for communication, seek to understand from your spouse the issue causing them to harbor resentment against you. Do not gloss over the issue; probe and gain clarity on the problem at hand. Your spouse may, for instance, be incensed because you are addicted to social media or because you do not stick to your family's monthly budget. When you get a clear picture regarding the bone of contention, evaluate your behavior and seek to change for the better. Do everything in your power to toss the ill habit out the window in order to grant your marriage a new lease on life.

4. Consider Your Spouse's Positive Attributes

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." (Philippians 4:8).

Even after discussing the issue at hand and choosing forgiveness, you may still find it hard to wiggle out of the resentment rut. Some wounds take longer to heal, and that's okay. One way of propelling your healing is by reflecting upon what you love about your spouse. Are they kind and gentle? Are they reliable and selfless? Would they leap over mountains just to see you happy? Take pen and paper and jot down the rosy attributes that make you consider yourself the luckiest person on earth. Ruminating over your spouse's positive attributes will open your eyes to how valuable they are despite their flaws.

5. Seek Professional Help

"Where there is no counsel, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors, there is safety." (Proverbs 11:14).

No matter how much you may be bent on making amends with your spouse, you may still find yourself stuck in the throes of resentment. Perhaps you may be dealing with heartrending matters like abuse, an affair, broken trust, financial dishonesty, or addiction. A good marriage therapist will come in handy and help you circumvent the situation. They will offer a safe and unbiased environment for you and your spouse to open up about the issues plaguing your marriage.

They will also help you carve out healthy habits of relating with each other as you seek to rebuild trust. Lots of Christians shy away from seeking professional help because they view it as a sign of weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus said that it is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick (Mark 2:17). If you are keen on experiencing healing and restoration in your marriage, do not hesitate to seek help.

Related Resource: Listen to our new, FREE podcast on marriage: Team Us. The best marriages have a teamwork mentality. Find practical, realistic ideas for strengthening your marriage. Listen to an episode here, and then head over to to check out all of our episodes:

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Crosswalk Writer Keren KanyagoKeren Kanyago is a freelance writer and blogger at Parenting Spring. As a wife and mom, she uses her blog to weigh in on pertinent issues around parenting, marriage, and the Christian Faith. She holds a degree in mass communication with a specialty in print media. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram and/or shoot her an email at

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