When you have fallen into a pattern of negative habits and feelings of resentment toward each other, it’s easy to forget that you always have a choice – either keep working at it or walk away. In either scenario, however, you’re going to have to let the ill will go. You have to start with a clean slate.
Living in a state of “unforgiveness” hurts you, your partner, and your marriage. If you do choose the hard work of learning from and strengthening your relationship, we assure you, there is a way to wipe the slate clean and commit to shedding negative relationship habits and resentment so that you can start fresh.
How to Start a Clean Slate in a Relationship
So, how do you let go of your partner’s “rap sheet” so that you won’t pull it out when you’re angry, hurt, or scared? You need to be a “conscious spouse.” That means focusing both on what you do to contribute to conflicts and on what you are doing to create safety and connection in your relationship.
In this post, we uncover three key factors to releasing the burdens of negativity and resentment.
Shift Your Perspective
Ever heard anyone describe a marriage as “two becoming one?”
Never forget that in a committed romantic relationship, you and your partner are both separate and connected. Total separateness – like total disconnection – is an illusion. Being committed means considering someone before yourself and consulting them prior to making big decisions.
However, concepts like these can lead to losing sight of the fact that we are still individual people leading lives that merely coincide in a lot of ways.
When you consciously make an effort to remember that you and your partner are each individuals who have chosen to share your lives with one another, releasing negative emotions like disappointment and fear about the other’s actions and behaviors becomes much easier.
The next time your partner does that thing you hate so much, or makes a huge, seemingly unforgiveable mistake, say to yourself these three things:
- We are two separate people.
- I don’t have control over any other person’s actions.
- I do have control over my own.
Then see what difference it makes in your decisions and reactions. You may be surprised.
Remember That Kindness Is King
Shifting your perspective will likely result in – at minimum – a less negative reaction. And coming from a more positive place makes it easier to be kind. (Not that we said easier, not easy. Changing habits takes practice.)
As you begin to free up headspace that was once bubbling with frustration and anger, you can try filling it with new, more positive habits and emotions. With a newly cleared head, think about this:
Your partner is your best friend. How do you treat your best friends… and how do they treat you? Then, reflect on what your partner has done to upset you.
How would you handle the same situation involving a very close friend? Would you try to work it out? Patch things up? Would you forgive?
No, friendship is not the same as marriage. You don’t depend on a person as much as you do a life partner, but every effort towards kindness is a step toward that clean slate relationship.
Share Your Perceptions
After years of learning your partner’s thinking and habits, anticipation and expectation can cloud your judgement of a given situation. You now have a stack of compromises hard-wired into your routine that can lead to an inadvertent loss of communication.
You think you know what your partner is thinking. You think they know what you’re thinking. But remember, we are separate and unpredictable humans with individual thoughts. If you don’t tell your partner exactly what you think, they really might not know.
And how can you fix anything when you don’t know what the problem is?
You’ve got to reopen lines of communication that may have been closed a long time ago. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.
If you’ve been trapped in the cycle of negativity and resentment for so long you’re not sure the two of you can take on the task of reopening yourselves to one another, a Houston relationship therapist might be the guide and resource you need to get over the initial hump.
One great way to do that? Try our Imago Couples Workshop.
Based on the world’s all-time bestselling book on relationships, Getting the Love You want, attending one of our weekend workshops can give you a relationship benefit equivalent to going to couples counseling every week for 3-6 months. In other words, it can save you a lot of time, suffering, energy, and money. Many have said it’s the best investment they ever made.
For more info, email us here or give us a call at 713.409.8111.
Originally Published 5/15/2019. Updated 11/11/2020