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Resentment, the bindweed of life

March 19, 2012

Do you know what bindweed is? It is a basic little plant that looks like morning glory. Nothing special, not ugly, not really pretty. Ordinary. But it has a darker side… It grows like.. Well a weed! Via these tuberous roots that spread the plant. Then it starts climbing up and over all of the other plants. Before long the entire garden bed looks like a giant patch of bindweed, you can’t see the other plants. And worse, there is really no way to rid a garden bed of bindweed once it has it, all you can do it try to keep it under control so that it doesn’t take over again. Unfortunately, this is a constant job, just a week or two without weeding and you have lost control of it again.

This is how I feel about resentment these days. My marriage is over grown with it.

I have been reading a new book that has some very interesting ideas about marriage and resentment: You Don’t Have to Take it Anymore: Turn your Resentful, angry or emotionally abuse relationship into a compassionate, loving one by Steven Stosny, PhD.

The jist of his concept is that resentment is a toxic mood that is self perpetuating, draining, and helps to create the very situation you are in. (my wording not his). He says that you can continue to be resentful, sure, but then you are choosing to stay in your awful situation… Your resentment is making your situation as bad as it is.

This is a hard pill to swallow. It seems so wrong at first reading. So “blame the victim”… But in reality, what has my anger and resentment at my husband done for me? In a better situation, the fact that I was upset about certain things would cause him to address my concerns. In our situation, it is just another reason to be angry at me (nothing changes).

Steven talks about this too. His theory is that hubby has lost his compassion. (Ya, think? As I have a flashback of being pregnant, throwing up off the side of the bed and hubby complaining about it). He even claims to have a program to teach compassion to abusive men. (first book that really says this can be fixed!)

His advice for women seems to be too unrelated and not direct enough: Improve, Appreciate, Connect, Protect. But after further contemplation, I think the goals of these steps is to pull us women away from reacting to”him” and to have us start living and enjoying life (which is impossible when you are in a resentment fog).

As for me, I am finding it to be a very, very hard habit to break. I spend a huge part of my non-working, non-sleeping life composing mental rants at my husband. I can (and do) turn every non-work problem into his “fault” in my brain rants. But stopping this has totally improved my mood, as well as changed how I approach life. I am more realistic about what hubby will or won’t do, and so I am planning accordingly. The kids and I am having more fun.

Isn’t that what life should be about?

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