If you can learn one thing about relationships, and one thing only, I believe it should be how to avoid resentment. It’s toxic, and it’s a relationship killer. Worse than that, it’s sneaky, and it can creep up on you all at once. When I worked with couples as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, I saw these beautiful loving relationships where one day one person just woke up and realized they hated the other. Out of the blue, really. Why? Years of unresolved resentment piling up inside until the dam broke, and then so did the love.
I don’t want your dam to break. Or your love. Instead, I want you to learn how to prevent resentment in the first place. Because it’s much easier to avoid resentment than to fix it. And it can be hard to fix when there’s years and years of it hiding in your guts. It can be done, of course. But it’s difficult and it takes patience, commitment, and more communication that you probably want to do in two lifetimes. Best to avoid it up front.
The good news is, if you follow through with the tips in this list, you’ll go a long way toward preventing resentments that come from the everyday events of sharing a life together.
Learn Each Other’s Fighting Styles
Some partners are quick on their feet and like to stand and fight, right there in the moment. Some need time to reflect on what just happened before they really grasp how to move forward. And some just need to cool off before their tempers reach a boiling point. If you have one style, and your partner has another, you have to learn how to work together to resolve problems. Otherwise every fight will just add a little more resentment to your relationship. It can come from feeling misunderstood, bullied, steamrolled, or manipulated.
Learn Each Other’s Communication Styles
Just like two people in a relationship can have different fighting styles, they can have different communication styles. There are endless examples, but one easy one is talkers versus silent types. Or yellers versus quiet types. Some people need or want you to be super direct and honest. Some want you to be more gentle. If you can’t figure out how each person needs and wants to communicate, you’ll bump heads a lot. And bumping heads on a lot of small issues is a fast track to big resentments.
Talk About Everything
You don’t have to be an open book all of the time, and your partner doesn’t get a full-access pass to everything you do or think, but you have to remember to fill them in when things happen. I commonly saw couples who felt resentment because they had to learn things about their partners from others. They felt like their partners didn’t trust them, or didn’t think enough off them to tell them things.
Agree On The Huge Decisions
If you move, have a baby, change jobs, or make pretty much any other type of big decisions without both of you being one hundred percent on board, you’re asking for resentments. And not just any resentments, but the kid that can kill a relationship. You might assume your partner feels the same way as you do about things because you’re so close, but you might also be wrong.Big changes need big commitments from both people.
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