RESENTMENT CAUSES INFIDELITY IN MARRIAGES
Do you remember the story of David and the daughter of King Saul in the bible? In his excitement at having successfully brought back the Ark of Covenant to Jerusalem, and particularly to express gratitude to God, King David danced so much that his royal tunic fell off his shoulder, revealing his under garment.
Meanwhile, his wife, Saul's daughter, was watching from the balcony. Upon seeing her husband's 'un-royal display', she was filled with indignation that quickly turned into resentment. It was one case of marital resentment she paid dearly for, because the bible also recorded that God shut up her womb, making her spend the rest of her days barren. Students of O'Level history always study the decline and fall of West African empires. In spousal relationships, marital resentment, if unchecked, can lay foundation for the break-up of marriage.
What is marital resentment?
Well, in simplicita, it means a spouse rejecting the other; it is a situation where two people that have been in love, then all of a sudden, one of the spouses starts having negative feeling about the other, saying through body language 'I don't want her /him anymore, or I am fed up or I can't stand her/him anymore.' But, whichever way you look at it, the simple truth is that love has flown out of the window or walked out the door.
From your description, what could be the likely causes of marital resentment or why would a spouse just, all of a sudden, doesn't want the other fellow anymore?
Well, there are a lot of factors responsible for it; in some cases, it could be that there was nothing like love, but infatuation, right from the beginning. Maybe the couple got married because they thought they were really in love, then some years down the line, when the chips are down, they now start seeing each other for what they really are and they just realize with some feelings and ask themselves why did I go into this thing? It means that right from the beginning there was nothing and so the marriage shouldn't have been in the first place, except if the couple were interested in the marriage based on love. While for some other people, marriage is out of convenience, and if it was a marriage of convenience, I would find it strange if there is no marital resentment unless the reason for the convenience hasn't also disappeared.
Another factor in marital resentment is disillusion, where somebody feels that there is a value, virtue or an attribute in the partner that seems real only to discover that it was all made up and what they thought wasn't what it seemed probably because they didn't look deep before leaping, only to be disillusioned, saying: 'if I had known it's like this I wouldn't have gone in'.
For instance, there are some men who go all out for very attractive women who are physically beautiful; they get into the relationship believing that the woman is beautiful, but as the years go by when the make-up is fast disappearing owing to pressure from work and family or where the children are coming and she is not able to put on those things she used to enhance herself. Things like wearing long human hair, foundation, going to the salon to trim her eyelashes and so on, or probably before she was really slim but has started adding weight; all those things she used to do, but is no longer doing them, then the man becomes less attracted because he is disillusioned.
On the part of the woman, she could get married to a man thinking he is rich probably because he's showering her with a lot of gifts because he wants to get her - and women get captivated by gifts - and when in marriage, the gifts cease to come the woman begins to feel the man is stingy, then in that case, she is disillusioned.
Then again, you have situations where one partner has told one lie or the other in the past and the truth prevailed in the long run and maybe because the love wasn't there, marital resentment sets in. For instance, some women are attracted to sincere men and in the time of courtship she always believed that the man was sincere, only to realize in marriage that the man has categories of truth and lies, she becomes disillusioned.
Marital resentment could be as a result of various kinds of unforeseen circumstances like the man or woman is fired, or the man can't meet up with certain responsibility in the family, not just financial responsibility, or it could be that the man's job is very stressful and so he doesn't have the urge for sex, while the woman's libido is very high and so feels the man can no longer satisfy her sexually and the woman cannot meet up with the sexual demands of the husband; it brings strain to the relationship. Mind you, marital resentment is usually a gradual process that starts with little complaints and then widens, and it is worst when a third party comes in and the attachment gets weak, which is a sign that there is danger.
Another common cause of resentment in marriage is the inability of one spouse to forgive the other. When one spouse is deeply hurt it is important for the offending spouse to constantly wear the garb of remorse and then apply the balm of healing on the feelings of the hurting partner until the wound is properly healed. People differ, some take longer time to come off such situations. Infidelity can trigger and sustain such resentment for a long time, since it lashes out heavy blows to the essence of the marriage.
Gap in meeting the satisfaction of one's spouse in the conjugal obligation could gradually lead to resentment, lack of diligence, care or medical condition could make it difficult for one to send the spouse to the desired and irreplaceable blues. It is worse if hardly or never discussed.
What signs show that it is beginning to set in?
Usually, in a relationship, there are some signs of affection or little things one does that matter so much, such as if all of a sudden those little signs of affection are disappearing, it is an indication of a danger sign, which means it could develop into something worse, therefore, couples are always advised to watch out and hold on for those signs. It could be a simple task of giving him water in bed first thing in the morning or maybe giving her a peck as soon as she opens her eyes. It could also be opening the door for her to go in if two are boarding a vehicle at the same time or meeting him/her at the door; it could be helping her cook on Sundays, change the diapers and so on, but it is basically when those little things start disappearing that both of them have to watch out.
In what practical ways does it manifest?
Eventually, from these little signs that occur here and there, all of a sudden it just happens, but it also depends on the strength of the relationship. Usually, in a relationship, one of the couple is more aggressive in bed than the other, so if in that relationship the couple have regular sex and then suddenly the man/woman that is aggressive/demanding for sex now ceases to be, or there is equal and opposite response, then you have to watch out - it means the problem has started manifesting.
How should a couple handle it when they begin to notice these signs?
It is best handled at the beginning. Assuming any of the couple notices such danger signs in the partner, the best thing to do is to find out if he/she is ill or going through emotional problems, and if it is not, then it means the danger sign is calling for attention that something is wrong and immediate response required.
But the mistake most of us make is that when it starts, our response is always in the negative; instead of feeling that the other partner needs help and in the interest of the relationship, what can I do? Rather the other gets angry and reacts this way: why should he/she be doing this to me? By and large, it pushes the person farther away to the brink of the relationship where it sinks. So, for two people in love, watch out for when those little expressions of affection start disappearing, and then demand for it, because it will help to rejuvenate the relationship.
What if after asking there is no response?
Then you keep working at it, but mind you, whatever we do you must add prayer as well. I believe in what prayer can do as you are working at it, because those things we do are human intervention and you are also praying and asking for divine intervention from God to take away what is causing it.
Then communication is very important, because where there is a challenge, you have tried certain things and it is not working then you could find the most convenient time or place to engage the other partner in a discussion to find out. It could be the woman's figure, she is going out of shape and he is not happy about it, he should tell her about it and then she starts working on it and when he sees she is working hard at it, but not getting it right, because of the abundance of love he has for her, he should accept her the way she is and not give up on her. It is a complex and delicate thing, but worthwhile if the couple apply their mind to it.
Can marital resentment lead to infidelity?
Of course, and it is one of the fundamental causes of infidelity in marriage, because once a partner starts resenting the other, they start looking out for some other way. If there is a vacuum in a relationship, and there is another aggressor, the partner can fall prey. When a woman starts resenting her husband and someone else approaches her from outside because there is already a vacuum inside, she can yield.
What should be the role of pastors and legal bodies?
For people that can help the couple, first of all, they should prepare their mind that there is a possibility and these are the signs because you have to be aware of the signs so that once it starts in your partner, you notice it immediately, then you can start working on it.
The second is not to deny it, but warm up to it and when it comes, don't throw in the towel or start blaming the other person; rather have a lot of sympathy and empathy and feel that he/she needs your help and you are the only one that can help him out; you can also go for counseling or read books and because you are the only one that knows what pleases your partner most, you are in the best position to help; in your mind travel back in time to the beginning of the relationship, recalling all those things that used to thrill him/her; then go back to the drawing board to reawaken those things, reinvent and even add more things to get him/her back.
Then, for people who have some measure of authority over the couple, such as pastors, their mentors, etc. their role is to give the person opportunity to unwind, especially the person that is beginning to resent the partner; if he is willing to talk, the person has to unwind. Then encourage the person to talk to/with the partner, but where it is impossible, you can confide in one that can find a way without telling the partner that your husband/wife says this or have you noticed this or that, then the person can start working on it.
Can one avoid marital resentment?
First of all, you have to be there for your partner and find out what pleases your partner so that you always show that the relationship has just started; never show that you have been going out for 20 years, every minute is fresh and just the beginning; therefore, you should always want to do your best; if you want to give your best, you will want to get the best.