Finding Peace by Letting Go of Resentment

Let the trained therapists at OC Relationship Center help you find peace.

Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. ~ Carrie Fisher

“Resentment,” the former South African president Nelson Mandela once said, “is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

Yet we all know how hard it can be to let go of past grievances. I have met couples who can’t remember what they had for dinner last night but miraculously have instant recall when it comes to the last several times they were angry with each other. But no matter how legitimate the grievance, harboring resentments — or bringing them up again and again as fuel in arguments — does neither you nor the relationship any good. So what do you do when that old hurt keeps rearing its ugly head? How do you move past resentment?

For one, it is possible to forgive without forgetting. You may not have any control over what you remember, but you do have control over how you feel about it. Forgiveness is a conscious choice. So if you are committed to the future of the relationship, you need to learn how to move past old issues once and for all, or they can cast an ugly shadow over the relationship for many years to come.

Here are a few tools that can help you let go of past relationship resentments:

  1. Remember that you make mistakes, too. As painful as it is to remember the times your partner  as hurt you, it might be even more painful to acknowledge our own shortcomings — which helps to explain why it is so tempting to direct our anger outward instead of taking a more honest assessment of our own actions. But it IS a lot easier to forgive when you can admit that you, too, have been guilty of thoughtlessness, temper tantrums and other hurtful behaviors. It’s called being human.
  2. Deal with hurt and anger right away, in the moment. When you are angry, say so — it may be that your partner had no idea that they have done anything that bothered you. Or, it could be the opposite — they were feeling angry themselves and acted out in turn. Either way, now is the time to talk it through. If the issue is serious and emotionally fraught, or has been building up over time, you may even benefit from talking through your feelings with a couples counselor. But please avoid sweeping it under the rug. That’s an easy way for today’s frustration to grow into tomorrow’s resentment.
  3. Make a pact with your partner — and yourself — that when it comes to old wounds, you are done bringing them up every time a conversation gets heated. It happens all the time, and it is usually born out of defensiveness: Your partner is frustrated because, say, he or she thinks you have overspent on holiday gifts, so you reflexively direct attention back to another old, familiar argument rather than work through a new, uncomfortable subject such as this month’s credit card bill. However, by focusing on the topic at hand instead, you have a much better chance of working toward a swift resolution rather than engaging in a drawn-out mudslinging contest.
  4. Rip up the scorecard. What is to be gained by keeping a tally of every mistake your partner has ever made, if he or she has already acknowledged them, apologized and tried to avoid repeating them? More importantly, relationships are not a competitive sport, or a series of debates to be won. Treating them as such is a recipe for misery and relationship failure.
  5. Choose to forgive for your own emotional well-being. Anger can serve a positive purpose in the moment, alerting us when there is potential danger to ourselves or our loved ones, and giving us the emotional fuel to react. Old anger, however, is counterproductive — it just drains our energy and takes up valuable space in our minds.

So the next time you feel yourself dwelling on old wounds, remind yourself that you have a choice in whether or not to continue carrying that burden. And if you choose to leave it behind, you will have new found freedom to focus on working with your partner on a healthier, happier, resentment-free relationship.

Sometimes it takes the insight of a professional in order to see things differently. A relationship counselor can work with you to help you let go of past resentments and work toward a better relationship. Please give the counselors at OC Relationship Center a call today at 949-220-3211, or book your appointment via our online calendar. We’re here to help.

Working Past Trust Issues in a Relationship

Let the counselors at OC Relationship Center help.

“Trust enables you to put your deepest feelings and fears in the palm of your partner’s hand, knowing they will be handled with care.”
– Carl S. Avery

Great chemistry, communication, and trust are at the top of the list when it comes to having a successful relationship. While it is true that all relationships have their moments of happiness and despair, it is important to try and keep the down times to a minimum. One of the most common relationship problems, whether new or old, is trust. When one or both partners lose trust in one another, it can become very difficult to get over without the proper tools. Harbored trust leads to nothing but infidelity, arguments, and eventually broken relationships. If you are looking for a solution to your trust issues, these tips will help you in saving your relationship and getting back to growing closer together.

Admit the Problem

The first order of business before anything can happen is to first admit that there are trust issues. If you’re in denial about your issues with trusting your partner, you will never get anywhere. Since men have a more complex time with showing emotions, it may be more difficult for a man than a woman to express that they do lack trust in their partner and be willing to put forth the effort for change.

Let Go of Baggage

Some people come into a relationship with trust issues. Some have lost trust due to childhood experiences, and others have lost trust as a result of other relationship problems gone wrong. You need to really evaluate where your trust issues are coming from before trying to solve the problem. Ask yourself these questions: Has your partner ever given you a reason not to trust them? Have they ever lied? Have they ever made a promise that they did not keep? Did they ever fall short on a responsibility? If your answer is no, your trust issues were brought into the relationship from another source that needs closure.

Talk About it

Communication is important in any relationship. A lot of times you will find that trust for trust. For instance, if you believe your significant other is cheating on you because they’re out late hours in the night, your partner could communicate where they are going and an ideal time that they will be back. This small amount of communication can put fears to rest and keep the trust.

Put the Past Behind You

It is important to remember that everyone is human and are bound at some point to hurt someone whether intentional or unintentional. If you’ve had relationship problems in the past where your partner has wronged you and betrayed your trust, this issue needs to be addressed so that you can move past it. If you have agreed to forgive them for their wrongdoing, you have to learn to let go and allow the healing process to begin. Holding onto the past only creates resentment and makes it hard for the relationship to move to the next level.

Don’t Play the Blame Game

No one likes to feel as if they’ve hurt someone they love. If your significant other comes to you and expresses that they feel that they can’t trust you, don’t take offense. Lots of people get defensive and begin blaming the other person for their actions. For Well if you weren’t so busy snooping around my phone I would not have to lock it!” Instead you want to listen to what they have to say and actively make strides to making things right.

Create a Plan of Action

Talking is only half the battle in fixing relationship problems such as trust. You and your partner need to sit down and really discuss a plan of action within reason. For problem consider providing each other access to your cell phones, email accounts, and social media pages. You could also suggest sending a simple text message when you’re going to be working late or going out with friends after work so that there is no room for speculation. Your actions will show your partner how much you care to change and will essentially bring you guys closer.

Fixing and/or rebuilding trust is not something that’s going to happen overnight. The best plan of action is to address the issue, find the underlying cause to getting back to love.

If you’re having trust issues and can’t seem to get past them on your own, there is also the option of consulting a professional who can provide help you find your source of distrust and slowly put the pieces back together. Consider couples counseling. Let the counselors at Orange County Relationship Center help you.  Call us today at 949-220-3211 or book your appointment via our online calendar. As long as both parties are willing to try, rebuilding the trust can be very successful.

Are You Arguing About the Kids … or Each Other?

Let the OC Relationship Center help you sort it out.Have you and your partner or spouse ever disagreed about rules, discipline or other decisions related to your children? If your answer is no, chances are you have a very short memory. If your answer yes, however, that means that you’re normal. After all, couples disagree over the best way to load the dishwasher—why would something as infinitely more complex and emotional as raising children be any easier?

One challenge is that people often bring many of their own childhood experiences to the way they decide to parent. Some believe their parents did all the right things and want to emulate them. Others think their parents did all the wrong things and want to raise their children in the opposite fashion. But since those are based on personal and individual experiences, you have two people bringing conflicting sets of emotional baggage into child-rearing.

For example, say one parent grew up with a mom who almost never let him eat sweets, so he thinks his spouse is destroying their kids by letting them eat ice cream for dessert every night. But she grew up eating ice cream every day as a child, so she doesn’t see the problem with it. She thinks he’s too strict, while he thinks she’s too indulgent. Ultimately, they’re making little or no progress toward setting clear rules.

As with most disagreements about how to raise children, the goal should be to make it about what’s best for them and acknowledge that whatever you think worked, or didn’t, in your family, does not necessarily make you the expert. Avoid letting it devolve from a disagreement about ice cream into a fight over whose parents were better, smarter or nicer. Entering such highly charged territory is not conductive to making a good decision about your own kids in the here and now. Instead, simply try doing a little research about kids and sugar—and in this case, there’s plenty of solid scientific information out there—and work out a compromise based on what’s healthy and reasonable.

Other parents have issues with unresolved anger towards each other that surfaces in arguments about child-rearing and turns their kids into unwitting pawns. Let’s imagine a couple, Kate and Jon, who are arguing over where their children should attend school. Kate favors a private school, because she has a dim view of the public schools in their neighborhood, while Jon thinks the local schools are fine. Instead of doing any objective research into the pros and cons of the various schools they’re considering, they hurl accusations. Kate tells Jon he doesn’t care enough about the kids’ education. Jon accuses Kate of being snobbish and overprotective.

Eventually, through therapy, they discover some of the underlying causes of the conflict: Kate is frustrated that her husband’s income makes it difficult for them to either to afford the private school or a move to a more exclusive neighborhood. Jon in turn thinks Kate is overly judgmental and admits he also resents the pressure he faces as the family’s sole breadwinner. The fight over schools has less to do with what’s best for their children than their personal wars that need to be resolved.

Those are just two examples, but there are countless more, from setting a teenager’s curfew to agreeing on consequences when rules are broken. But as many variations as there are in the ways we argue over child-rearing, the answers are often the same: (1) Try to resolve them with facts, not emotion; (2) be aware when your problems as a couple are bleeding over into decisions about your kids; and (3) present a united front wherever possible. This will prevent your kids from feeling caught in the middle, while helping you perform one of the most important jobs you have as a parent: setting a good example of how to overcome conflict in a rational and positive way.

If you need help finding healthy resolutions to your child-rearing conflicts, please give us at a call at 949-220-3211 or schedule an appointment via our online calendar. We at the OC Relationship Center are here to help you.