Discover the silent threat lurking in many marriages: resentment. Uncover its subtle signs and learn how to safeguard your relationship against its destructive power.

Husband and wife experiencing marriage challenges, laying awake in bed facing opposite directions.

Unveiling the Hidden Threat

 Let’s be honest; a lot goes in to simply surviving everyday life. You are inundated with a host of tasks that require constant attention. You are trying your best with your career, keeping your home from collapsing both literally and physically, making sure bills are paid, church and ministry, and there may even be a couple of little ones in there that look just like you to remind you of just how much you have on your plate. In the midst of all of life’s chaos it is perhaps a little easy to overlook the other adult who is in the thick of it with you: your spouse.

I mean, if I am holding up pretty well it stands to reason they are just as well, right? Afterall, you have likely mastered the art of treading water when the tides of life rise, they probably have as well. This is where I want to caution all of you love birds about a cancer that can creep in to even the most seemingly well-functioning homes. Let’s talk about resentment, and three signs to look for so that you can guard against it.  

Understanding Resentment: The Silent Killer

In simple terms, resentment is a feeling of indignation that comes from the feeling of being mistreated. Think of it as being offended, but at a pro-level.

Now you may be thinking, “well I’m safe here… all is well”, but I think it is important to take an inventory of our relationships to safeguard against things that would chip away. It’s the little foxes that spoil the vines, as Songs so eloquently expressed.

What we will do for the sake of this piece is examine the symptoms and we will allow that to serve as a sign if there is indeed something within the marriage that needs to be talked about. Resentment can be sneaky and build slowly over time. If it is left unchecked it will destroy all vestiges of romance, attraction, trust, and love. Resentment occurs when an offense is left to fester.

This may not be intentional, perhaps one or both spouses have an avoidance conflict style. If that is either of you guys, then be especially cautious. If one or both spouses like to tackle conflict head on, be aware also, as butting heads may not mean the conflict has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.

Here are three symptoms for a brief marriage wellness check.

Symptom 1: Your Spouse Is a Little Annoying Annoying 

Now the heading here may seem a little comical or even off-putting. That’s fine, but it happens more often than you may think. This is a major red flag that resentment has creeped in to your marriage in some way. It starts off small, but let’s remember it is the little foxes.

When this happens, the things you used to find attractive are suddenly bothersome. Habits that drew you to them in the first place make you roll your eyes. You may find yourself thinking they have changed over the years, but it may just be the lens through which you are viewing them.

Let’s make it more concrete. You used to find it cute when she let you decide where to eat, now you are frustrated that she can never make up her mind. You used to laugh at his laundry being on the floor in the bedroom, now you roll your eyes at any and every sock.

The point is, when these things occur it is not the supposed infraction that is the issue. Something deeper has happened and it is imperative that you guys, as a couple, do the work to find out what it was. If resentment goes unchecked you may find that any and everything your spouse, the person you swore before God and witnesses to love and cherish, does is annoying. It happens, but it doesn’t have to happen to you.

Symptom 2: You Prefer Time Alone

I will be careful here. I’m not referring to needing a moment away. As a human being, newsflash: we all need time away. For my introverted peeps, that alone time is absolutely critical. Check out this video for a bit of enlightenment on introvert and extrovert relationships. Even us extroverts need to sneak away from the party, begrudgingly at times, to reset.

What I am referring to here is almost a sense of obligation or dread when it comes time to be with your spouse. Date night feels more like a chore, not an escape, in what was already a busy week. If you find yourself noticing this, let this be your clarion call that you have to be intentional about repairing your relationship. Remember how when you were dating and you couldn’t wait to steal a few minutes away? Those ridiculously long phone calls? The anticipation when your schedules lined up for a date night. That can be a thing again, I promise!

Symptom 3: You Avoid Sex

This one is sort of self-explanatory, but this is likely one of the most common symptoms and usually the first to rear its hideous head. It starts off with seemingly legitimate excuses, right? You are tired one night. You actually have a headache the next. There is some arbitrary threshold that your spouse needs crossed before they can proceed, although they are wholly unaware.

That looks like: I’m not doing _ until he finally fixes _. I understand this one is not easy to talk about. Life isn’t easy. The fact is this can be one of the most damaging and sinful things you can do in your marriage. Yes, I used the “s” word. The Bible makes it clear that this is that big of a deal. The good news is if you notice this, understand that there may have been an offense that needs addressed that can greatly improve the physical intimacy in your marriage. All hope isn’t lost. You can get to a place where you look for excuses to come together as opposed to avoiding it.

Safeguarding Your Marriage Against Resentment

Resentment is an absolute cancer and will destroy your marriage. I hope this helps you, at a bare minimum, safeguard against the symptoms that are mentioned here. Issues don’t resolve themselves, and it is on us to get them worked out. I pray that you allow the Lord to search your heart and that you and your spouse will resolve to make straight the crooked paths that may have caused you to drift apart. If your marriage is free of resentment, which is very possible, be sure to keep it that way. I love you all, and may God abundantly bless your union! 

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