Resentment stems from the unwillingness to show empathy first. If you give in and forgive first, you may be perceived as weak. So you do your best to prove your partner wrong and hold onto the resentment. And everytime you get into an argument you make sure to remind your partner of past mistakes, which you claim to have forgiven. But have you truly forgiven and moved past disappointment?
The right way to forgive and move past an unfortunate event in your relationship is to never bring it up in a present situation. Nothing good comes out of reminding your partner of past failures, or mistakes. You may think it serves as a reminder of the compassion you displayed when you forgave them, but it doesn’t. It leads to dead-end conversations and it deepens resentment. If you remained in a relationship after a negative event, then, by default, you agreed to forgive. So you might as well do it the right way.
There are four things you can do to ensure your forgiveness benefits everyone involved, and saves your relationship from a slow, painful death.
1. Label the baggage you bring into the relationship
It’s important to be aware of the baggage you bring into a relationship, and understand how it contributes to the way you deal with conflict. Sometimes, emotional scars from previous relationships leave us more sensitive to certain words and situations. As a result, you are more likely to overreact in a trigger moment.
Whenever you leave conflict unresolved you are feeding resentment. So learn as much as you can about what triggers resentment for you, and if the events that cause it are truly as severe as you believe they are. When you minimize the gravity of a situation you have an easier time forgiving.
2. Be mindful of unrealistic expectations
A lot of times the expectations we have of our partners are so high we wouldn’t be able to meet them. Be mindful of your rules, requirements, and why you’re implementing them. Is it due to past relationship disappointments? Are they a product of your upbringing? And would you forgive yourself if you broke those rules? Figure out why you tend to hold your partner to such high standards. Take a moment to assess yourself, and if you do not meet those standards, then it’s time to lower them. It will help greatly in the process of letting go of resentment and forgiving the right way.
3. Reminisce the positive side of the relationship
One of the most effective ways to let go of resentment is to focus your energy on happy memories. When resentment hits, make a conscious effort to counter your negative thoughts with positive ones. And whenever you overcome adversity as a couple, celebrate it and let go of grudges. Don’t hold them as reminders of each other’s shortcomings and flaws. The ability to let go is a key ingredient in keeping a relationship healthy and happy.
4. Address recurring fights
Recurring fights are your clues to deep rooted problems, which should be addressed. And resentment is the primary cause of these fights. When you leave past hurts unresolved they resurface, and they can turn a peaceful conversation into an argument. Before you know it, each partner is throwing hurtful words at the other in hopes of coming out the “winner”. But we all know fights within a relationship never yield a winner. The people involved are simply denting each others’ confidence and self-worth. And while so much effort is expended on proving the other person wrong, the relationship is nosediving.
Agree with your partner to have hostility free conversations that lead to resolution instead of anguish. The best way to do so is to remind each other along the way of the importance of staying cordial, and remain focused on the end result- complete forgiveness.
Reclaim happiness in your relationship. Start talking and healing old wounds. Forgive the right way, and don’t let resentment kill your relationship.
How forgiving are you? Take this forgiveness quiz created by forgiveness research pioneer Michael McCullough and his colleagues to find out.