There are numerous reasons resentment builds in a relationship. And while we’re usually very aware of our partner’s flaws and what annoys us, we don’t readily see what they resent about us. Perhaps it’s the way your partner rolls their eyes when they disagree with you or how they frequently interrupt that sends you over the edge. In turn, your tendency to employ sarcasm or your inclination to say no to requests may grate on their nerves.
One couple confided to me in counseling that when they get annoyed with each other, their brains go to a place of thinking “I’m awesome, you suck.”
To Release Resentments, First Understand Them
The fact is, everyone is difficult in some way. The key to a letting go ritual is to focus on how you handle irritations. At times you may choose to characterize your partner’s infractions as quirks, accepting that these behaviors are part of your loved one’s personality or rationalizing that it’s simply your partner’s way of doing things.
You may find that confronting your partner with something you dislike or something that hurts you provokes such anxiety that you avoid the topic altogether. It’s tempting to dismiss irritations, hoping they will resolve on their own, but frequently they don’t.
Initially, accruing resentments can feel good, even powerful. It gives you the feeling of having a perceived edge over your partner, providing ammunition to use later. When your partner accuses you of a misstep, you can then remind them of a time you were frustrated over something they did.
If you become an observer in these instances, you will likely see that this temporary sense of dominance over your partner, this potential way of getting even, creates suffering for you as well. Your hiding something important about the relationship may create emotional distance, resulting in feelings of mistrust and loneliness. Is this outcome worth burying discontent that seems too hard to talk about?
A more constructive approach is to use a communication ritual as a method of identifying and releasing resentments that have been ignored or stockpiled. The letting go ritual outlined here can help you and your partner find resolution over past upsets, creating space for you to happily reengage in the present and also move forward.
[Read: “42 Forgiveness Affirmations to Lift the Weight Off.”]
6-Step Letting Go Ritual for Releasing Resentment
Invite your partner to participate in this letting go ritual with you, and find a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted. You could perform it in a peaceful setting at home or in a comfortable spot in nature. Note: Share the steps of this letting go ritual with your partner beforehand so they’re equally prepared.
What you’ll need:
- A pen and paper
- Roses or rose oil
- Candle, lighter, and fireproof dish or a hand trowel
Prior to the ritual, identify a grudge or old issue that casts a shadow over your relationship. Take a few moments to contemplate the following questions:
- Why have I allowed this upset to simmer?
- What holds me back from speaking my truth?
- What price does the relationship pay by my not speaking up?
- What benefits may accrue by bringing this concern to light?
Jot down your responses to these questions on paper to help clarify your thoughts.
[Read: “Letting Go of Being Right.”]
Begin the ritual by making sure you and your partner are facing one another, maintaining eye contact the entire time. If you are doing this ritual at home, light a candle. On a small piece of paper, write down the old injury and then show the paper to your partner. Tell them in detail what hurt or upset you at the time. Share any feelings that are currently coming up as you revisit that time.
Your partner’s role is to listen or perhaps ask questions, not to defend or explain.
Talk about what you could have done differently to obtain a more constructive outcome. Tell your partner what you wish they
would have done differently and see how your partner responds. If you have a current request for your partner that will help release the negativity you carry, share that as well.
If an apology is needed by one or both of you, make that repair.
Next, address what needs to change in your relationship for both of you to move forward. Be specific and make a verbal commitment to whatever action is needed.
If your partner has been holding onto a resentment as well, repeat Steps 1-4.