What Causes Resentment In A Marriage (Plus How You Can Heal Resentment In Yours)

You may ask yourself, “What causes resentment?” or “Why am I feeling resentful?”.  No one likes to be taken for granted, feel unappreciated or devalued, but if your partner does something that causes you to feel that way,  you may feel resentful.

You expect that your spouse will cherish and care for you, but when you find instead you are unintentionally or intentionally taken for granted this can lead to many negative emotions.

You might start out feeling disappointed, frustrated or hurt that you are not being thought of or cared for.  Over time this quickly can turn into anger and resentment.

Many times people know they are upset at their partner, but they do not see how their feelings are impacting the relationship. Here’s a list of the most common signs you should look for:

12 Signs You Feel Resentful:

  1. You feel your partner is being dismissive or not listening to you.
  2. You think about the situation constantly throughout the day.
  3. Fighting becomes more frequent and intense and over smaller issues.
  4. You avoid being with your partner or talking about anything meaningful.
  5. You feel helpless, hopeless, indifferent and/or sad about the relationship.
  6. You refuse or withhold sex or intimacy as a bargaining tool.
  7. You are having difficulty letting go of what happened with your partner.
  8. You discuss only facts or logistics (take out the trash).
  9. Your sentences are brief and short (yes/no answers or I don’t know).
  10. You do not use romantic or loving language.
  11. No physical signs of affection, such as a hug, snuggle or hand-holding.
  12. You do not look at your partner or you avoid eye contact.

Can Your Marriage Survive Resentment?

If couples figure out a way to talk about their perspective, feel listened to, and changes are made in the relationship, the couple will have a greater likelihood to make their relationship work. On the other hand, if they can not find a way to navigate and discuss their feelings and issues, they should seek counseling to address their feelings.

Depending on how long a couple has felt resentful will determine and impact whether or not the relationship can survive. When couples address these issues before resentment builds to a devastating level of hurt, pain and anger, then the marriage can be saved, and even improve.

How Can I Stop Feeling Resentful?

If you are someone who likes to avoid issues and not address how you feel, then resentment will boil up inside of you unless you take care of the situation. As difficult as it is to talk about the conflicts, resentment does not disappear or go away on its own.

The most effective method to stop what causes resentment is to be aware of the resentment, discuss the issue with your partner and work to resolve it.

Steps To Stop Feeling Resentment

Couples can stop feeling resentful when they begin to have an open conversation with their spouse about what causes resentment. They need to state that they are feeling resentful, discuss what has caused that feeling, and give suggestions about how to change these situations. Usually, if one partner is feeling resentful, the other partner is feeling resentful too.

If your spouse does not want to change or denies feeling resentful, then you can continue working on the steps by yourself.

Ideally, if you as a  couple can press the “replay button” and decide to restart the relationship, then you can truly create a new beginning. You may only be able to restart the relationship though if you both apologize and ask for forgiveness for what’s happened in the past.

Next, in order to resolve not to repeat this pattern of building resentment,  you need to recognize the situations that cause resentment. You will need to make a conscious decision to be aware of those situations and signs in your relationship.

Couples can make their own list of signs of what causes resentment and daily or weekly review the list to see whether or not signs have appeared. If so, then the couple (or individual) will move to the next step. If not, then continue to check your list for the next month or two to ensure resentment has not begun again.

Finally, if resentment starts to occur again, couples need to apologize to each other for what happened and make a plan on how it won’t happen again.

Your Relationship Can Thrive After Resentment

Resentment in a marriage increases when a partner feels unappreciated, uncared for and neglected. When couples ignore their feelings of resentment, problems build up and need to be fixed.

Your marriage can survive when you recognize what causes resentment and follow the steps to stop this pattern. When you take care of your partner and your partner takes care of you this bond will allow for your relationships to thrive.

Additional reading to support your relationship as you explore options for couples therapy and healing:

How To Discuss Relationship Problems Without Fighting

Stuck In A One-Sided Relationship? Here’s How To Talk About It So Resentment Doesn’t Take Over

Why Do We Keep Having The Same Arguments?

ADHD & Relationships

How To Let Go Of Resentment So You Stop Focusing On Old Hurts & Past Pain


Lisa Rabinowitz

Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC is a certified Gottman therapist working with couples in the US and internationally. Lisa has worked for many years with couples who have both diagnosed and undiagnosed ADHD. Her certifications and experience uniquely qualify her to support couples with relationship challenges that often feel insurmountable. Please reach out for a free 20-minute consultation with Lisa today.

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