If stacking resentments causes marriage breakdown what causes resentments?

The answer I normally receive is “because my partner has behaved in ways which helped me to feel bad” for most people they don’t set out to help their partner to feel bad so exploring what’s behind the couples meanings and actions is critical.

This is why I help couples in my session learn how to understand each other, so they don’t inadvertently cause pain to each other without knowing.

When someone does something that helps us to feel bad and especially if that action caused us significant pain, we can struggle to let go of the bad feeling and we attach it to our partner, this is a resentment being born.

The result is each time I see you and hear you I now feel bad on some level about me.

So I expect this makes sense for most people.

Now lets look at how a resentment could be created.  To resent someones actions a person would have to judge what their partner said or did and then put a meaning to it.

So the person judging the event is putting a meaning to a situation and then making their partner responsible for the meaning they created, this part of the process is important to understand.

If a person is the creator of their meanings and is using those meanings to break up a family this needs to be explored quickly.

From childhood we have not been taught to challenge meanings we put to the world we live in and so when the meaning we put to a situation is linked to extreme pain for that person that meaning is a fact. For example: I love you but I’m not in love with you.

I feel bad and it’s because you did, X,Y,Z.

The truth is the pain they feel is a fact. However the meaning the intelligent person has attached to the pain is not quite so clear.

You see the real meanings that cause the pain we feel happens much faster than we can process. So when we do feel emotional pain we have many choices of what to attach that pain to and so we go to the one that will protect us most and in pain it’s usually the most negative.

You make me feel bad so I have to protect myself from you. This can help them remove their love which is destructive to both people.

It’s important for individuals in relationships to become curious about the meanings they are putting to their partners actions and to discover if the meanings they are putting matches their partner underlying intent, if it doesn’t then the chances are they are wrong.

I see so many couples who are about to break up their families because of the meanings they have created, only for them to discover their meanings are not true.

This is a critical life lesson to learn because the direction of a persons life can change based on confusion rather than the truth and reality.

About Stephen Hedger

International relationship expert Stephen Hedger's philosophy on relationship problems is this: Couples fail to understand their relationships because they are too focused on their problems and so they totally miss what created them. Stephen's approach is a refreshing and enlightening journey that helps couples uncover their truth. His strategies uncover the knowledge that all couples need to create a successful and lasting passionate connection. If you are in crisis and you need help, book an initial consultation today to get your life back on track.


  1. Michael Fillbrook says:

    My marriage is in serious crisis but wife will not engage with getting help. She said that its gone past that point and not prepared to get help with me. I have 2 children one of 6 and one of 7. I have caused pain 6 years ago by texting sone one but she will not let it go and still punishing me every day by treating me like a piece of dirt and speaking to me like it also.

    • Stephen Hedger says:

      Dear Michael

      Thank you for reaching out. It sound as though your wife has been trying to get though to you, but not in a way you could connect to. Based on her perception that she has spent years trying to get through to you she has now given up and loss of respect is her model.

      Would you like some help putting clarity to her feelings and what you can do to change this situation?

      Kind regards
      Stephen Hedger