Healthy Relationships: Resentment vs. Forgiveness (Part 2 of 4)

Greetings and welcome to my post. Thank you for reading and for wanting to seek help for your relationships. As you know, I am writing this year in 2015 inviting you to consider what is a healthy versus an unhealthy relationship. Throughout this series, I am focusing on intention and how important each person views a problem or a person in a relationship. When both people are in agreement on the intention, than you know where each other is coming from.

For this series, I want to focus on asking you this question: Do you want to be resentful about the past or do you want to pursue forgiveness? When you think of your most important and personal relationships, how do you view problems and this relationship topic called resentment. When you get to a place in which you are wanting to not be resentful and instead think of ways to be forgiving, you are investing in building healthy relationships. But when you resent someone, you and building unhealthy intentions and relationships due to your unresolved frozen anger.

Resentments grow out of a belief or repeated experiences that you have been hurt or wronged in some way. An injury has occurred in the relationship. Like a pulled muscle or a turned ankle, injury and pain starts to grow and this pain is telling you something is wrong. When we fail to get treatment for body aches, the pain will last much longer and the injury may not heal. When we fail to address a relationship injury, we also feel hurt and anger and if this becomes unresolved, resentment will start to creep in. Unfortunately, as the resentment grows, we become hardened people with hard hearts and hostile attitudes towards the other person. This leads to start viewing the other person as opponents and enemies as we become distrustful and avoidant as we start to form our defenses.

In general, resentments grow and start to build due to three things: What that person did to us that we think of as mean or thoughtless; What they didn’t do in which they could do something nice to us but they don’t; What they don’t do or could do for us if they tried but seem to not intentionally not want to do.

So let’s say as an example, a household chore called dirty dishes. You say to your spouse that when they are done eating to place their dish in the dishwater or at the very least to wash off their plate before they put it into the sink. Instead your spouse does the opposite and you start to think and feel this act was mean or thoughtless. As the dishes start to build in the sink, you observe your spouse continuing to add to the dirty dishes and you observe what they did not put the dishes in the dishwater as being not being nice or considerate of your request. Finally the sink is full and you do not say anything as you start to conclude your spouse is out to get you as they did not respect your original request and they seem to intentionally want to hurt you. You start to feel as if your spouse is not nice but mean by intentionally neglecting your request and not putting the dishes in the dishwater.

As you observe your spouse not respecting or ignoring initially your request, you could and probably should say something as the dishes start to stack in the sink. But you don’t. You are feeling some anger before the dishes start to build as the days go by, you don’t say anything and your anger and hurt starts to build into resentment and a wall is growing in your heart of how you feel about your spouse. Your upset and you need to share with your spouse how he or her not putting the dishes into the dishwater affects you.

I used this example as I want you to start thinking back of all the ways you did not say something when you could have and how now resentment has affected your feelings towards that personal person in your life. People are going to hurt you, intentionally or not, and it is your job to find a way to confront for the sake of sharing your anger so that it does not turn into resentment. When your spouse does not put the dishes in the dishwater and eventually you do it again and again over the weeks and months, I will promise and somewhat guarantee resentment will start to build and this resentment currently in your life from your past is not affecting how you treat this person.

Ultimately, resentments hurt us more than it hurts the other person. Peace of mind and hopeful attitudes about the other person gets minimized as we spend our time thinking about how terrible or horrible how someone is or how we’ve been hurt. We then become stuck in the past. And when we remain stuck, it will become more difficult to forgive. Thanks for reading.