Therapist: "It sounds like you resent that."
Client: "Well, yeah! It'd be one thing if she was grateful! I do tons of stuff for her, but when it's her turn, it's tough luck!"
It's a story I've heard from a lot of couples. Resentments building up from old hurts, or perceived unfairness, until they finally they explode into conflict.
Or they never come out and just quietly eat away at the foundations of the relationship, turning love into bitterness or apathy.
If you are feeling resentment toward your partner, that is a red flag. For you. About your own behaviors. Here's what you should do instead.
Resentment and love can't occupy the same space
Ask yourself this question: Do I find this act/behavior to be a reasonable thing to be requested of me?
If the answer is no, then you have chosen to do something to your own detriment.
"But if I don't, she'll blow up!" or "If I say no, he just makes my life miserable until I do."
Okay, that might be true. It doesn't matter. Well, it does, but you have still chosen to do the task to avoid a consequence. Either that bargain is worth it to you (in which case, why waste energy resenting it?) or it's not. In which case, you chose an unsuccessful strategy.
You might argue that you did it because you love her, and part of love is sacrifice. I call bullshit. Resentment doesn't leave any room for love. It eats love.
Go back to that first question, what if it is reasonable and you still feel get that burn in your gut. Then you are not taking proper care of yourself.
Resentment is a message. Listen to it.
"She doesn't appreciate me!"
Don't get me wrong, appreciation is one of the core principles for making a relationship work.
If your need for appreciation isn't being met, it is your job to communicate that to your partner in a respectful way. To give them an opportunity to love you by showing their appreciation.
But if you're doing something for the appreciation, then that isn't love. That is giving in order to get. That's quid pro quo, which is a good way to burn out the friendship in your relationship.
"It's not fair."
Unfortunately, we train those around us how to treat us by what we accept. If your need for fairness isn't being met, it is your job to communicate that respectfully, and to set a boundary around what you are and are not willing to accept (or do). You can't make someone behave the way you want. You can make requests, and decide what you are going to do if that need isn't met.
"He just keeps hurting me. When I look at him, I don't see my friend anymore."
When betrayals of trust or emotionally hurtful conflicts occur in a relationship, we refer to that as an attachment injury. Your intimate couple bond has been damaged, and needs repair. If that isn't something you naturally know how to do, that's okay. It is a skill that can be learned in Couples Therapy.
Sometimes, the attachment injury is too great to repair. Part of living with compassionately held boundaries is knowing the point at which you are done, and when it is time to leave.
Learn how to set limits and how to protect them
There will be times when you will say yes, even though it costs you something. There is such a thing as making a loving sacrifice (or go that extra mile for your career). That's okay too, just be aware of that decision. Take time to consider your motivations, and the consequences you will experience. Practice compassion, gratitude and self-care. Then let your gut be your guide. When that love, patience, and desire to care start to feel like resentment it is time to reassess.