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—Married 12 years, age 38, New York
What to Do When Anger Is Leading
You To Marriage Separation
By Nancy Wasson, Ph.D.
Do either you or your spouse frequently bring up old unresolved issues
from the past in your marriage?
Many a troubled
marriage is burdened with heavy suitcases full of resentment
and anger that the partners feel toward each other. And often new conflict
erupts every time one of the spouses unpacks these suitcases to review
painful events from the past.
It is the “historian” who continuously relives
events in the relationship in which they feel they were wronged or treated
And even though that person feels justified in bringing up their hurt,
they are missing a critical point that could have dire consequences for
the marriage. It’s a truth that has led countless couples to marriage
Why Anger Leads to Marriage Separation
The point is that when you hang on to resentment and anger, the effect
is toxic. The resulting poison can slowly push your marriage toward marital separation and
divorce, if you let it.
Many spouses lose their sense of perspective in their relationship about
the bigger picture. It's tempting to start thinking how your spouse "should" have
acted and how things "should" have been. In your imagination,
perhaps you’re reliving situations over and over again in your mind.
You might see yourself hitting your partner with the perfect spoken comeback.
You might see yourself getting even with your spouse in some way. And
the more you allow your mind to speed in that direction, the angrier you
feel yourself getting. And the more you feel self-righteous and justified
in your reaction, the more you hurt your marriage, long term.
Because when you become bogged down in blame, anger, resentment, and
revenge, you are only shooting yourself in the foot. And while this
is happening, you are putting yourself in jeopardy for having sleeping
health problems, relationship rifts, depression, and daily agitation.
You increase your level of stress and diminish your
enjoyment of living. And you’ll find that the longer you harbor
a grudge, the
bigger and heavier it becomes. And the end result of these toxic emotions is marriage problems.
And the looming potential for an unhappy
marriage and a marriage crisis gets bigger and bigger.
How to Stop Marriage Separation
There is nothing you can do to find inner peace when you are full of
resentment and anger. As long as you keep resentful feelings bottled
up inside you, you are ruining any
chance that you have to experience mental and emotional tranquility.
What, then, is the solution? What do you have to do to gain peace of
can you manage your resentment and angry feelings from the upsetting
experiences with your spouse? What will it take to have a peaceful
relationship with your spouse now?
The answer to these questions lies in releasing resentment and learning
to practice forgiveness. You cannot change what has been said and done,
and you cannot control whatever your spouse decides to do. But you can
control the choices that you make.
You will find that you are the main beneficiary when you forgive. Forgiveness
does not mean that whatever the other person did was OK. Not at all. It
simply means that you have found a way to release its grip on you.
Liberate Yourself and Avoid Marriage Separation
You can decide to break the emotional cord that is tying you to your
resentment and anger. In contrast, you can choose to have the joy of
liberty from the heavy baggage you’ve been carrying in your mind
for so long. In order to get the assistance you need in letting go
of the past,
you can always ask a minister or marriage
counselor for marital guidance.
Without relying on forgiveness, your thoughts can descend into an endless
cycle of anger, resentment, and retaliation. And when this pattern is
repeated over and over for months, or even years, a broken marriage becomes
You want to forgive in order to stop obsessing about the past and to
put your mental energy toward the present moment. And you will discover
that as you begin to practice forgiveness, you have liberated yourself
from what was a crippling tyrant.
* * * * *
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