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The High Cost of Resentment and Anger in Marriage
Many spouses carry heavy suitcases filled with a collection of anger and resentment from their marriage. Periodically, they unpack these suitcases and review every situation in which they feel they were treated unfairly.
"Resentment is an extremely bitter diet, and eventually poisonous. I have no desire to make my own toxins," declares Neil Kinnock. Hanging on to anger and resentment is toxic, and the resulting sludge can slowly poison you.
It's easy to lose your perspective about the bigger picture and to be become obsessed with how things "should" have been and how others "should" have treated you. In your mind, you may visualize yourself zapping the other person with the perfect verbal comeback or having the opportunity to get even in some way. The more you let your mind gallop in this direction, the angrier you get and the more you feel self-righteous and justified in your reaction.
When you become mired in anger, resentment, blame, and revenge, you are only hurting yourself. In the process, you put yourself at risk for experiencing health problems, sleeping difficulties, depression, relationship rifts, and daily agitation. You automatically increase your stress level and decrease your enjoyment of life. And the longer you carry a grudge, the heavier it gets.
Nothing you do to try to find inner peace will be effective when you are filled with anger and resentment. "If we have not peace within ourselves, it is in vain to seek it from outward sources," states Francois de La Rochefoucauld. As long as you hold on to bitter feelings, you are sabotaging yourself by destroying any chance that you can experience peace of mind.
Dr. Wayne Dyer, in "10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace," states: "It's your ego that demands that the world and all the people in it be as you think they should be." He continues by saying, "It is perhaps the most healing thing that you can do to remove the low energies of resentment and revenge from your life completely." Dr. Dyer compares resentment to venom that continues to circulate in your system long after the snakebite has occurred. He emphasizes that it's not the bite that kills you; it's the venom.
What, then, is the antidote? How can you find peace of mind? How can you handle your feelings of anger and resentment from the experiences in your marriage? How can you create a peaceful marriage now?
The answer lies in letting go of resentment and practicing forgiveness. You can't change what has happened, and you can't control what your spouse chooses to do. But you do have control over the choices you make.
You can choose to cut the emotional bond that is keeping you tied to your anger and resentment. Instead, you can decide to experience the joy of freedom from the heavy burdens you have been carrying around for so long. To get the help you need in letting go of the past, you always have the option of asking a therapist or minister to assist you.
Thomas Fuller observes, "He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven." Without forgiveness, your life becomes an endless cycle of anger, resentment, and retaliation.
You practice forgiveness so that you can stop ruminating about the past and put your energy into the present moment. And you practice forgiveness so that you will be free from the poisonous effects of resentment.
Then, you can experience peace of mind and bring that inner peacefulness into your marriage. You will never have a peaceful marriage until you are at peace within yourself.
Nancy J. Wasson, Ph.D., is co-author of Keep Your Marriage: What to Do When Your Spouse Says "I don't love you anymore!" The e-book is available at http://www.KeepYourMarriage.com , where you can also sign up for the free Keep Your Marriage Internet Magazine. Contact Nancy at Nancy@KeepYourMarriage.com.
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