How do you know when a grudge is the reason for the emotional distance between you?

A few red flags to look out for:

  • There is tension between you and at any given moment either one of you could explode.
  • When difficult topics of conversation lead to an argument or debate: These discussions lead nowhere and both of you are fighting to win each round.
  • You harbour negative feelings towards your partner: “For once I wish he could feel like I do,” “Just you wait and see what will happen if you keep carrying on like this.”

Help! What is the solution?

  • It’s time for some selfless introspection:
    1. Ask yourself what it is you actually want. Focus on your actual needs and write them down. It may include things such as: “I want my husband to respect me,”, “I want him to spend more time with me,” and “I want him to truly listen to me.”
    2. Did you make assumptions because nothing was resolved through proper communication? Things such as: “My husband doesn’t really care about me,” “My husband isn’t as nice as I thought he was,” I have to do all the work in and around home,” and “My husband doesn’t understand me.”
    3. Now ask yourself (and be brutally honest here) how realistic these assumptions really are – maybe this problem snowballed in your mind because you didn’t talk about it?
    4. What emotions arose as a result of these assumptions? Did you feel scared, angry, heart sore, lonely, ashamed, rejected or confused?
    5. How did you act or behave towards your husband as a result of these assumptions or emotions? Did you withdraw or avoid him? Did you attack him or respond by being sarcastic? Did you try numerous times to explain how you feel?
  • When you have more insight into your own emotions and you are the one who wants to talk about it, then you are better equipped to plan an appropriate time to share these thoughts and emotions with your husband. Choose a good time (it doesn’t have to be the perfect time) for challenging discussions or conversations.
  • It is ideal if couples can agree on rules for such a discussion beforehand – don’t be on the attack or defensive! Be clear on the point of the discussion from the get go, then try to just listen and hear. If one of you starts becoming defensive, you could say: “Sorry I started to attack or defend myself – could I please start over?”
  • Aim for improvement, not perfection! If you feel any form of relief or closer to each other, find it easier to talk about difficult topics and don’t avoid difficult situations as often as you used to, you are most likely on the right path. Keep working on this and don’t go back to avoiding difficult topics as this will give the grudge monster the perfect gap to take hold once again.