Lisa harbored deep resentment at her husband of 15 years, Scott (not their real names).
You see, they had 3 beautiful children and agreed they didn’t want to have any more. Although she had asked him to, Scott refused to get a vasectomy. He stated in no uncertain terms that he was “not going to mutilate my body that way”.
Lisa tried talking to him on several occasions, expressing to him the struggles she was having with birth control, how it caused all kinds of physical side effects for her.
But he refused no matter what rational, logical, science backed reasons she presented to him.
She felt powerless. Trapped. Left with the responsibility for making sure they don’t have more children all on her own.
The seeds of resentment were watered in her every day when she took those birth control pills.
What could she do? He had refused and so strongly that she felt she couldn’t bring it up ever again.
Previously, I shared with you the 8 Factors of Happiness, and resentment was #1 on the list.
Many relationships experience the malignancy of resentment. When conflicts go unresolved and needs unmet, if left unattended the resentment usually grows, gets worse with time and causes significant barriers to intimacy.
Unfortunately, Lisa did what many people do. She silently bore the burden for years and her anger and resentment toward Scott came out in different ways.
Thankfully, Lisa and Scott eventually discussed this issue in therapy.
Not once, but many times.
Scott became more open to hearing her experience. He acknowledged his anxiety around having a vasectomy, and acknowledged the burden this placed on Lisa while he reaped the benefits of never having to attend to their shared agreement not to have more children.
And Lisa found a way to be empowered, rather than fearful of his dismissal. She learned to stand strong AND loving in the face of Scott’s protest. She stood up for her needs AND the needs of the marriage.
You see, resolving a long standing issue that has been relegated to the dark corner in the basement where no one ever looks, takes more than one conversation.
If you are struggling with resentment in any of your relationships, I hope you find the courage and commitment to repair like Lisa and Scott did.
Resentment is a malignancy that requires both people to face and excise it by dealing with the issue at hand together. It’s the two of you against the issue. Not the two of you against each other.