What Causes Resentment in A Marriage (Plus How To Heal Yours)

How to Save My Marriage

What Causes Resentment in A Marriage (Plus How To Heal Yours)

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Resentment is one of the leading causes of issues in a marriage. Unfortunately, it is also one of the least acknowledged problems, especially since money and sex issues are deemed more prevalent. The problem with resentment is that it often stems from lack of open communication. When there is resentment in your marriage, it means one of the spouses is unable to fully express their thoughts and feelings. This guide will explore how to fix resentment in a marriage without stirring up anger towards each other.

What Causes Resentment in a Marriage?

Addressing the cause of resentment is one of the first steps towards fixing and saving your marriage. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of resentment as every relationship dynamic is unique. However, experts have been able to identify them into categories so you can come up with ways to fix them.

The common causes of resentment in a marriage are:

  • Betrayal (such as if your spouse cheated on you)

  • Underperformance (such as a low income spouse or they do not help with chores at home)

  • Underappreciated (if they constantly forget about your anniversary or other special dates)

  • Inconsiderate behavior (not responding to their calls/texts, not giving them priority)

When you have resentment towards your spouse, you build an emotional wall and it is difficult to achieve intimacy. Without an emotional connection and intimacy, the relationship could falter. It will only be a matter of time until the couple drifts apart and you no longer value each other’s place in your life.

How do you know if you are resentful towards your spouse? These are the tell-tale signs:

  • When you hold anger towards your spouse

  • When you are constantly frustrated by their presence and/or actions

  • When you are hostile towards them

  • When you start de-prioritizing them

  • When you would rather spend time with friends or other people

  • When you ridicule them in front of others

  • When you do things you know would upset them

  • When you avoid contact with them (being home late from work or getting into bed when they’re already asleep)

how to fix resentment in a marriage

How to Fix Resentment in a Marriage

Fixing resentment in a marriage is no rocket science. You need to understand the cause and then see what can be changed in order to improve your relationship with one another.

Here are some strategies on how to fix resentment in a marriage.

Show Empathy

Adopting empathic behavior will help to not just fix, but also prevent resentment in your marriage. In everything you say or do, always put yourself in their shoes. Will it hurt your spouse if you behave a certain way?

Showing empathy will make you more aware of what you should and should not do, especially if you don’t want to hurt your marriage. It is all about compromise if you want your relationship to grow and thrive.

Express Your Feelings

Not being able to freely express your feelings is one of the reasons why resentment builds up in a marriage. Once you get a full grasp of how you feel, make sure you communicate those feelings clearly and directly. Open communication is a must for both of you to be on the same page about where you stand in your relationship.

Focus on the Positive

It is easy to spiral into negativity when you hold resentment towards your spouse. However, you don’t have to let the negativity win you over. You can do this by focusing on the positives. Think about your partner’s good qualities and the things that they’ve done in the past.

It is human nature to focus on the wrong things that a person has done when they commit a mistake. But you can change this mindset by focusing on the good.


Sincerely Apologize

If you have done something that has hurt your spouse and made them resentful of you, openly apologize to them. If you want to save your marriage, you can’t let your ego take over. You must acknowledge that you are at fault.

A sincere apology is more than just words though. You need to have a concrete plan on what steps you want to take to prevent the same mistake from happening again in the future.

Forgive Your Partner

If you are on the other end of the spectrum and you are the one who feels the resentment from your partner, you need to forgive them if they made a sincere apology. It’s not always easy to forgive, especially if you’ve been deeply hurt. Forgiveness is a process, so don’t be too hard on yourself if it doesn’t come easily. Go as slowly as you can and take as much time as you need to forgive.

best ways to fix resentment in a marriage.

Practice Gratitude

Practicing gratitude is one of the best ways to fix resentment in a marriage. It can also aid in the healing process.

When you are resentful towards your spouse, you are overwhelmed with negative emotions. Practice gratitude by thinking of things that you are thankful for in your marriage. Do this a few times daily. It will also inspire you to take steps to save your marriage because you develop better appreciation for this relationship.

Seek Counseling (If Needed)

Resentment is a highly toxic emotion. It can be difficult to manage them on your own, especially if you’ve had that feeling for some time. Seeking counseling is a great way to manage your feelings and to deal with the issues in your marriage.

A therapist can provide an objective viewpoint when it comes to resolving your marital issues. They can also spell the difference between saving your marriage or not. It is a considerable investment but can bring about a satisfying outcome.

Parting Tips

If you’re holding resentment towards your spouse, or your spouse is resentful towards you, consider the tips above on how to fix resentment in a marriage. All couples will encounter difficulties in their marriage no matter how long they have been together. Don’t let it go unaddressed or it could create a massive divide between you and your spouse. The sooner you address the issues, the better you can to manage the situation before it gets worse.


  • Travis Atkinson

    Travis Atkinson, L.C.S.W., is the Director and Creator of the Loving at Your Best Plan. He has extensive training in marriage and couples therapy, based on over 27 years in practice, earning certificates from top-rated couples therapy models, including: *Certified Advanced Schema Therapist, Supervisor and Trainer for Individuals and Couples *Certified Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist and Supervisor *Certified Gottman Method Couples Therapist *Certified Group Psychotherapist *Honorary Lifetime Member of the International Society of Schema Therapy Travis is a co-author of the latest schema mode therapy inventory, the SMI. He is also the co-author of two chapters in the recently published “Creative Methods in Schema Therapy: Advances and Innovation in Clinical Practice (Routledge, 2020) and author of “Schema Therapy for Couples: Healing Partners in a Relationship” in the Handbook of Schema Therapy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012).

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