Doesn’t it seem obvious? Do you need reasons why letting go of anger and resentment in any kind of long-term relationship is good for you? Alrighty, then!
Here’s a bonus reason: take care of you first. You snarled in resentment isn’t your best you.
Here are the reasons why letting go of anger and resentment in marriage is good for you.
First Reason: That Stuff Can Kill You
This is scary, but think about it for a moment: negative emotions ruin your health. They isolate you, and humans don’t thrive in isolation.
Here’s how that goes.
You get angry at someone, fail to reveal your anger just to “keep the peace” or “choose your battles.” The anger festers, unexpressed and unresolved, and feeds the emotional cancer we call resentment.
Feelings are going to find a way to express themselves. That’s how feelings work. You can choose to express anger consciously at the moment it’s triggered, being careful not to break things and hurt people. That’s a far better way than becoming a prisoner to anger and resentment, or a victim of the pain and illness they bring.
A resentful person can be manipulated. Let that resentment build up long enough, in enough people, and it can be used to make big changes. America fought both the War of Independence and the Civil War out of anger and resentment, and America isn’t the only country where these feelings have been used to fuel a war.
Hold on to anger and resentment until they kill you, or find a way to exercise them in a safe way. Your choice.
No value judgment about it. If you choose to hold on to anger, expect resentment to build. Hold on to that stuff long enough and you’ll experience chronic depression. That stuff will kill you, and you’ll die alone, without any meaningful human connections left: friends, family, colleagues, and especially your marriage.
Don’t do that. When anger or resentment find you, let them go with healthy expression. It’s much better that way. It’s how we humans work best, and it’s good for you.
Second Reason: Your Marriage Deserves the Best You
However your marriage began, you’ve got time and treasure invested in it. Right now, it doesn’t matter if you’re deeply in love or barely tolerant, newly honeymooned or headed towards a golden anniversary. None of that matters.
What matters is your honor…and your partner’s honor. Together, you chose this marriage. You want to bring anger and resentment into that? OK, fine. Just do it with honor. If you’re angry with your partner, honor your partner and say so. Start with “I’m angry!” Then Explain why you’re angry. If your partner won’t or can’t listen, write it down. Maybe it won’t be read, but you will have expressed your anger, which is much better for you than holding on to it as resentment.
Even though it may surprise both of you the first time you do this, expect to repeat that practice because it’s a good one. In addition to being good for you, it’s also a great way to practice honor in marriage, for your partner and for yourself.
It’s such a good practice that it works outside of marriage, too. If your marriage – or any relationship – is worth keeping, this practice will strengthen it. If you get no response when you offer your partner this kind of honest honor, consider couples counseling, which is less destructive in the long run than building up resentment (see the First Reason above).
You can only stay married by working on your marriage, and this is one healthy way to do that. Otherwise, if you and/or your partner just can’t honor one another in anger, that’s a legitimate marriage-ending issue. You – and your marriage – deserve you as best as you can be: aware of what bothers you and free to express the anger you feel, provided nothing gets broken and no one gets hurt.
Third Reason: What Serves You?
This isn’t so much about the other person; this reason for letting go of anger and resentment in your marriage is more to do with who you are at your core.
Take a position. Choose a side. Stand up for what you believe. We hear that all the time. But sometimes it’s frightening to put it on the line that way. Would you give your life to save your partner’s? (You can’t give your life to save your marriage, because, without you, there’s no marriage.)
If you’re feeling like a martyr in your marriage, you’re already dead. It doesn’t serve you to live that way. It’s just not good for you (or anyone) if your authentic self is blocked – unable to stand for something – in partnership, especially marriage.
It’s vitally important to stand for what you believe. History is full of people whose meaning literally kept them alive in impossible situations, and your internal beliefs can save your life, too.
There are good marriages where both partners have opposing political beliefs; how does that work? Being fearless about expressing anger (First Reason above) is one way, since political – or religious or social or economic – resentment can be deadly to relationships.
If your core beliefs – the ones that give your life meaning – cannot be expressed safely in your marriage, that’s either an opportunity to strengthen your marriage or a red flag. What’s most important to both of you? You can choose your own way, or, together you can choose a way that works for both of you, even if that might mean the end of your marriage.
If you feel you’ve found meaning that serves you, you feel it deeply. In a marriage that works, you can express it to your marriage partner without fear.
If you have fear of expressing your deepest beliefs to your marriage partner, you deserve better. Marriage partners need to have a two-way street for honest communication, especially when it comes to feelings, and most importantly when those feelings are ones we don’t like, such as anger or fear.
This two-way street is a non-negotiable part of the marriage partnership. We must be able to communicate our authentic feelings, particularly the difficult ones, or there will be resentment and long-term damage. That damage can kill the marriage, but it will also, eventually, kill us.
To care for yourself and your core beliefs is a primary objective of your life. Your marriage must support that or it can’t support who you really are.
Hold on to Anger or Embrace Honor
If you are an angry, resentful person, whose core beliefs accept that these feelings and the life that goes with them are somehow normal for you and others, find someone else who shares those core beliefs and try to make a marriage. Sorry to be blunt, but that’s what you deserve. It’s dishonorable to yourself to force anyone else to see things your way.
You are a person with deep core beliefs who wants to make your life as good as it can possibly get, hopes that others close to you will share that intention, and has enough hope to survive difficulty and thrive as you work through what’s hard. Shouldn’t your life partner encourage, support, argue, understand, and offer you compassion, safety, and understanding when anger takes you? I hope your answer is “Yes!” That’s the kind of marriage that works.
And, a marriage like that is really good for you.
Now, please excuse me. Writing this has reminded me of some anger triggers things I need to discuss with my marriage partner.
Want to know more about how to let go of anger and resentment?