When all you ever seem to do is fight with your partner it’s hard to want to go home and spend time with them. Finding extra things to do at work, or going out for happy hour with your friends seems like a reasonable excuse to avoid what has become a very tiresome pattern in your relationship.
It can feel awful to dread seeing your partner, to avoid going home. When you live your life this way, avoiding your partner and hoping the two of you can find yourself back on a better path, it easily can turn into you or your partner feeling disconnected, withdrawing and making the problem between the two of your worse.
Negative sentiment override is what happens when over time, all the arguing, all the conflict between you and your partner has built up for so long that you can no longer give your partner (or they can no longer give you) the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps for you it plays out in your life like this: For a month you’ve been planning to go to your parents house for dinner. You haven’t seen them in a while and you’ve been looking forward to spending some time with them. You told your partner about the dinner, asked them to come home from work on time, and made sure they could make it to dinner at your parents. On the day that you are supposed to go to dinner at your parents your partner is 20 minutes late getting home from work. S/he wants to take a quick shower before leaving. 20 minutes late has now turned into 30 minutes later than you wanted to leave. As they are grabbing their stuff to get in the car you explode and angrily tell them “My family isn’t important to you. Just stay home, you obviously don’t care about my parents or me. You’re so selfish.” Your partner who just rushed home after being stuck in a meeting s/he couldn’t get out of yells back at you “I’m selfish. I just about killed myself trying to get home on time. I tried!”.
Eventually, the two of you wind up in a place where you just drop the issue, don’t speak about the problem, and use that interaction as just more proof that your partner doesn’t care about you.
Many couples find themselves in similar patterns. It’s completely normal to go through periods in your relationship where it’s just hard to get along with your partner. Life tosses many curve balls into a relationship, work stress, having children, caring for aging parents are just some of the many things that cause couples to go through long periods of difficulties.
It’s true that when you can’t give your partner the benefit of the doubt, or they can’t seem to see the effort you’re putting into your relationship it can drive the two of you further apart. However, if we can learn to fight with our partners in a constructive way, then conflict can be a tool that brings the two of you closer together. When we make changes to how we bring up a potential conflict, how we listen to our partner, how we work to negotiate our needs in our relationship then we can have a lasting and fulfilling relationship.
Without help the two of you could continue to fight, with increasing resentment, and eventually break up.
The biggest downside of not overcoming negative sentiment override is that the cycle continues, leading to ongoing fighting, feeling distant, and possibly even breaking up. You spend a good chunk of your time thinking back to the way things were, longing to have the relationship that the two of you used to have, longing to feel heard, loved, pursued. Yours or your partners resentment starts to grow the more they long for what used to be and the negative sentiment override grows stronger. Being in a relationship with so much resentment, so much hurt, is unbearable and not sustainable.
With help the two of you grow closer, feel more connected, and the fighting stops.
Although you may struggle with negative sentiment override in your relationship you and your partner have the potential to overcome it and grow closer. When you choose to work on your relationship, there is a possibility for increased connectedness, re-igniting that spark in your relationship, and to grow together as a couple. You have the opportunity to learn how to effectively communicate with your partner, get your needs met in your relationship, reduce resentment and frustration, and have a meaningful relationship.
3 Tips to Help You Reduce Resentment In Your Relationship & Start Connecting
Yes, its true you may be feeling resentment in your relationship but it is possible to release resentment and overcome negative sentiment override. The key to overcoming resentment in your relationship is to actively work on improving the way you communicate, learning how to self soothe so that you can help de-escalate conflict, and remind yourself of your partners positive qualities.
Take a look at these 3 tips to see how you can start to overcome resentment and negative sentiment override in your relationship.
One of the reasons you may struggle with negative sentiment override or resentment in your relationship is because of the way you and your partner are communicating with each other. If every time you have a fight with your partner you feel attacked or judged overtime you might develop protective ways of coping with that feeling. This may mean you withdraw, maybe you lash out and argue out of defense, either way when you feel this way it’s not uncommon to reciprocate the judgement and attack in your own communication.
So what do you do about this? You change the way you communicate with your partner. You be the one to model change and over time your partner’s own resentments and or defenses will start to lessen. Start by noticing how often you say a judging statement or an attack. Sometimes they are subtle and we aren’t even aware of the language and how it impacts our partners feelings. Statements like “you never” and “you always” are usually signs of a judging or attacking statement. Once you get into the habit of catching yourself attacking or judging your partner, try and find a way to bring up the issue in a softer way. For example if your usual go to is “you never do the dishes. I’m so sick of cleaning up after everyone” you might try “I’ve been feeling frustrated with how messy the house is. Can you help me by doing the dishes a couple of nights a week?” If what you really want is a cleaner house and help with the dishes the 2nd statement will get you a lot further towards achieving that goal.
Another reason that you may struggle with resentment in your relationship, or negative sentiment override is because of frequent fighting and lack of resolution. It makes complete sense that if you are constantly arguing you would start to form a negative opinion about your partner and start to think the worst about them. You might even start to lose hope in the relationship and start to think that it is impossible for the 2 of you to solve any problems.
Therapy can help you learn many tools that will help make conflict more constructive and help to decrease the frequency of fights you have with your partner. One thing you can try now is to practice self soothing. Many times couples come to therapy feeling hopeless and frustrated because when they do fight the arguments just keep escalating. Conflicts escalate because our feelings start to get in the way and we start to become flooded in our emotions. When this happens it can be difficult to get your point across in an effective way and it can be difficult to hear what your partner is saying. Mostly what we can away from these heightened fights is a feeling of frustration, anger, and resentment.
Some ways to self soothe include: take a break of at least 20 minutes, breathe - focus on breathing in and out, tell yourself and your partner that the two of you will figure out a way to get through this fight.
When you have a lot of resentment in your relationship or when you’ve gone through long periods of fighting and not getting along it can be hard to see your partner’s positive qualities. If we aren’t careful our brains can also start to become re-wired to only see the negatives about our partner. Start a daily practice of thinking through your day and finding one positive thing to say about your partner. Maybe its that they give great hugs, or maybe they took the kids to school today, or they said thank you for making dinner. Nothing is too small to start.
One thing I often hear in my practice is “I don’t want to be the one to back down. I don’t want to give in to him”. This thought is normal but it’s not helpful. Negative sentiment override often places couples in a stalemate, neither willing to budge because they feel that their emotional bank account is so heavily drained. My response - sometimes you have to give a little in order to get a little. As hard as it is I encourage you to be the change for your relationship. In the long run this will pay off for you.
It absolutely is possible to go from feeling hopeless in your relationship to hopeful and connected. Therapy can help you to identify your relationship patterns, learn communication skills to help you work through conflict and find constructive ways to argue. Therapy can help you to rebuild trust, friendship and fondness and admiration in your relationship.
If your partner isn’t interested in going to couples therapy, no problem. Relationship therapy for one person can make a difference for the couple.
You absolutely can have the relationship of your dreams.
Call 619-383-1900 to schedule an appointment now.