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Why Does Resentment Build Up In Marriages?

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Marriage can be one of our most rewarding and fulfilling relationships, but unfortunately, it isn’t without its challenges. When resentment builds up in a marriage, it can create an impenetrable barrier that interferes with good communication and connection between partners. Unfortunately, unresolved resentment often remains entrenched longer than we think—sometimes lasting years.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss why exactly resentment builds up in marriages and how to cope with these difficult feelings so couples can move past them together.

Defining Resentment and its Root Cause

Before looking at why resentment builds up in marriages, defining it and understanding its root cause is important. Resentment is a feeling of deep bitterness or anger caused by a perceived wrong or injury. In marriage, this often means that one partner may feel hurt or betrayed by something the other has said or done.

The root cause of resentment may not always be apparent but often stems from a lack of emotional understanding and empathy between partners. When couples don’t take the time to discuss their feelings openly and honestly with each other, resentments can quickly start to build up and eventually lead to a breakdown in communication.

Common Reasons Why Resentment Builds Up in a Marriage

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When resentment builds up in a marriage, it can be for various reasons. Here are some of the most common causes:

  • Unresolved conflict or arguments: Arguments and conflicts are part of any healthy relationship, but if they’re left unresolved, feelings of resentment towards each other can quickly build.
  • Feeling neglected: When one partner feels ignored or taken for granted, resentment can easily fester and simmer. If this feeling is not addressed promptly, resentment can worsen over time.
  • Unrealistic expectations: Partners may have different ideas about what constitutes successful communication, how much time should be spent together, and how to handle disagreements. When these expectations are not communicated or if one person feels they’re being taken advantage of, resentment can quickly build up.
  • Feeling unappreciated: We all want to feel appreciated and valued in our relationships, but resentment can creep in when this doesn’t happen. If one partner isn’t actively showing gratitude for the other’s efforts, resentment can easily form.
  • Feeling unacknowledged: Feeling like our accomplishments and successes should be recognized by our partners can lead to resentment. If one person is not giving the other credit where it’s due, they may feel taken for granted or undervalued in the relationship.
  • Feeling unheard: Resentment can develop if one partner’s opinion or feelings are not considered.
  • Betrayal of trust: When a partner does something that violates the other person’s trust, it can lead to deep resentment and hurt feelings. This could be anything from infidelity to dishonesty about finances or other matters.
  • Not feeling respected: Respect is an integral part of any relationship, and when this is absent in a marriage, resentment can quickly build up. If one partner feels disrespected by the other, it can cause hurt feelings that eventually become resentment.
  • Difference in values: As partners get to know each other better over time, they may realize their values need to be more aligned. This can lead to resentment when one feels their values are not respected or appreciated.

How to Move Past Resentment in a Marriage

Although resentment can be difficult and uncomfortable, couples should strive to overcome it together. The key is to have an open and honest dialogue about the present feelings and actively work towards better understanding each other. Here are some tips on how to move past resentment in a marriage:

  • Be willing to forgive: Forgiving your partner is essential for overcoming resentment. By forgiving, you’re not condoning their behavior—you’re simply releasing them from the guilt and responsibility of their actions.
  • Communicate openly: Open communication is essential for building a healthy marriage. It can be difficult to hear your partner’s words when resentful, so take the time to listen and express yourself clearly.
  • Take responsibility: Don’t be afraid to take ownership of your actions and words. By owning up to the hurtful things you’ve said or done, you show your partner that you’re willing to try to improve the relationship.
  • Practice empathy: Empathy is key for understanding each other in a marriage. Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and understand why they may have taken certain actions.
  • Set healthy boundaries: Setting healthy boundaries in a marriage is essential for feelings of trust and respect. Take the time to discuss boundaries with each other, so you both know what’s expected from one another.
  • Show appreciation: Showing your partner that you appreciate them can go a long way towards rebuilding trust and connection. Take time out of your day to show them love, gratitude, and kindness.
  • Find outside support: If resentment has built up in your marriage, seeking outside support from a trained professional or couples counselor can be helpful. They can help you both identify issues underlying the resentment and guide you on how to move forward.

Tips for Recognizing Early Signs of Resentment Building up in the Marriage

It’s important to recognize the early warning signs of resentment in a marriage so couples can take action to address the issue before it becomes too entrenched. Here are some tips for recognizing early signs of resentment:

  • Look out for feelings of anger or bitterness towards your partner that linger over time.
  • Pay attention to when you feel like you’re not being heard or taken seriously by your partner.
  • Notice when you feel that your partner is not showing appreciation for the things you do.
  • Watch out for moments of tension or conflict where neither person is willing to budge.
  • Be aware of any feelings of resentment towards yourself in the relationship.
  • Recognize when one person feels the other is taking advantage of them or their situation.
  • Pay attention to when your partner withdraws from engaging with you in meaningful conversations.
  • Keep an eye out for changes in communication patterns—like one person becoming increasingly passive-aggressive or avoiding difficult conversations altogether.
  • Notice when one partner consistently feels not respected in the relationship.
  • Be aware of any feelings of distrust between you and your partner.


How can couples work together to move past resentment in a marriage?

Couples should strive to be open and honest when dealing with resentment. They should communicate openly, practice empathy, take responsibility for their actions, forgive one another, set healthy boundaries, show appreciation for each other, and seek outside support if needed.

What should couples do if they recognize early signs of resentment in their marriage?

Couples should take the time to have an open and honest dialogue about any feelings of resentment that may be present. They can also set up ground rules or boundaries that both partners agree on, practice forgiveness, and work together to rebuild trust and connection.

What should couples do if they cannot move past the resentment in a marriage?

If couples are feeling stuck with their resentments, it can be helpful for them to seek outside support from a trained professional or couples therapist. A third-party mediator can help both partners identify any underlying issues contributing to the resentments and provide guidance on working through them. This can help couples overcome resentments and build a stronger and healthier marriage.


Resentment in a marriage is never easy to deal with, but couples need to take the time to address these issues head-on if they want to have a healthy and happy relationship. It’s important to recognize the early warning signs of resentment and take steps to address them before they become entrenched. Couples should strive to communicate openly, practice empathy, forgive each other, set healthy boundaries, show appreciation, and seek outside support if needed to move past any resentments that may be present in the marriage.

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