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Resentment Can Damage Marriage Even More Than Cheating

Why Fighting With Your Spouse Might Save Your Marriage

It just eats everything away…

Infidelity is the worst thing that can happen in a marriage, right?

Think again.

While cheating is a devastating betrayal, the MOST damaging thing you can do in your marriage is to give in when you don’t really want to.

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When you agree to something you don’t actually want, resentment builds and eats away at your relationship. Over time, each concession you make gives birth to termite-like resentments that erode the very foundation of your marriage. The more unwanted concessions you make, the faster your marriage crumbles.

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Of course, every marriage involves some form of concession at times.

In fact, the moment you accept the common belief that marriage requires compromise, you’ve opened your relationship to unwanted concessions. We often believe compromise means talking someone into accepting a solution even when the other person doesn’t feel 100 percent OK with it. Without honest acceptance, it’s impossible to truly embrace the proposed solution, and so the nesting ground for resentment is put into place.

I was reminded of this truth while working with a couple whose relationship struggled through infidelity issues. The partner who had the affair shared that he closed his Facebook account because he was tired of “defending” his activity on it. I could tell from his tone that he’d felt pressured into doing so. Recovery from any affair is guaranteed to be even harder when either person resents taking an action that he or she doesn’t want to take as a means of satisfying the needs of the other.

In fact, resentment is often the first step anyone takes on the path toward infidelity. Without fail, these moments of caving to a partner leads to emotional distance and disconnection. Once feelings of resentment are firmly in place, the relationship becomes vulnerable — and if the feelings are left unaddressed, the relationship will surely die.

Knowing whether or not your partner is honestly agreeing or simply making a concession to appease you can be one of the toughest marital challenges.

If one partner agrees to what seems like a mutual decision, how would the other know the agreement isn’t really mutually acceptable without being told so directly?

If you see yourself as a people-pleaser or as conflict avoidant take special care.

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People with these personality types are most likely to make unwanted concessions because their fear of upsetting their loved one outweighs their desire to honor their own needs. This may work for a time, but the resulting resentment eventually reaches a point where the feelings can no longer be contained. More damage is done to your marriage the longer this process takes to unfold.

Each concession increases the number of resentment termites and later leads to costlier, more time-consuming repairs in order to rebuild the marriage.

Learning how to reach solutions that do not involve unwanted concession is the best way to avoid resentment.

Although the process is simple, it may not feel easy at first. Here’s what you do:

Make a commitment to yourself and each other that you will no longer agree to a solution that doesn’t work for both of you. Ever.

This doesn’t mean that you draw lines in the sand and require your partner to accept your way at all times. It means that you keep talking and listening until you find common ground. The more you hold to this commitment, the easier it becomes.

Isn’t having a great marriage worth it?

This guest article originally appeared on Why Resentment Hurts Your Marriage More Than Cheating.

Resentment Can Damage Marriage Even More Than Cheating

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APA Reference
Guest Author, P. (2018). Resentment Can Damage Marriage Even More Than Cheating. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 18 Dec 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.