Victims, Resentment and Toxic Relationships (New Video)

Regardless of education, experience, or intelligence, many struggle with relationships. Though the research is clear that healthy relationships can be immune enhancing, being (and staying) in a loving, intimate relationship is one of the most challenging things we do.

“…being (and staying) in a loving, intimate relationship is one of the most challenging things we do.”

All sorts of difficulties in relationships are related to resentment and identification as a victim. Far too often, it seems like both parties report feeling like victims, while seeing themselves as the “reasonable one.”

Identification with the role of victim, whether accurate or not, can be harmful to health and well-being. In order to recover and move on from damaging relationships, or even to repair a wound within a viable relationship, it’s important to identify with your strengths and not your weaknesses.

Making matters worse, the victim identity is often accompanied by revenge motives, which inevitably adds to negative sentiments within the relationship.

As therapists seeing couples, our focus on the direct causes of resentment can sometimes just exacerbate the problem.

For such a complicated subject, sometimes you need to approach it from different angles.

Check out our programs on mindfulness, brain science, and trauma treatment for ideas.

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4 Comments

  1. Karen Nolen says:

    Angela –
    Hello and welcome to the world of addiction. I don’t believe you husband is being honest with you. If he wants to drink it has nothing to do with you. You are right about choosing not to argue with someone who’s drinking. It’s a lose lose situation, hands down! My educated guess is that all the abuse that’s rolling off his tongue is his way of not owning the fact, that he simply wants to drink. Were he to get sober and own his own feelings, things would change. However; this is not your job to see happen, even though it affects you so. I would suggest you get yourself to Alanon meetings and perhaps a nutritionist and/or acupuncturist for your health issues. You can’t control him, but you still have choices. Good luck.

  2. Angela says:

    My current relationship is filled with resentment, anger and emotional abuse. My husband is an alcoholic who blames me for his life being in the toilet. I am angry at him because after 14 years he finally admitted to me that he married me because he felt sorry for me.

    I came to Savannah to escape a very physical and mental abusive relationship I was in. I had gotten very good at hiding my feelings because that was the only way I knew how to survive the abuse. My husband helped me to open up. After several years it became apparent that I needed surgery on my left knee but had no insurance to make it happen, that’s when my husband asked me to marry him. I honestly thought that he loved me and that was the reason he married me but I later found out that wasn’t the case. He was a recovering alcoholic at the time and I didn’t understand alcoholism. We had a great relationship for the first two years of our marriage. Then in 1997 I had my knee surgery which set off a wide variety of problems. In 1999 I was diagnosed with RA, OA, Fibromyalgia and a whole slew of associated problems. That was also when he told the doctors, in front of me, that his life was over and our relationship has gone down hill since and he started drinking again.

    We have tried numerous times to repair the damage by talking about the hurts and the possible solutions but to no avail. Every time we seem to make some break through he will stop off at the bar and come home drunk to tell me how much he hates me and to tell me to pack up and get out. When I’ve tried to talk to him about what it was I had done wrong I get the same answer, “Well, I talked to so and so and they said I just need to get rid of you” or “I just can’t get past this thing that we’ve already talked through, I don’t trust you and never will.” They are always things that when he was sober we had talked about and had come to some sort of resolution. We know that it will take time to resolve our issues but he starts his drinking and decides it just isn’t happening sooner.

    His story is that I am always asleep when he gets home. Sometimes I am, but I have chronic fatigue and can’t help it. Other times I will pretend to be asleep, especially at night when he is drinking because I don’t want to argue. Another complaint of his is that we don’t have sex. We don’t have sex at all now because I made a conscious decision to quite the swinging lifestyle because of my health and the fact that he was picking people up off the side of the road and bringing them home to fill some sort of fantasy he had. He would throw all caution out the window, not thinking about our health and safety. He had also told me that he just couldn’t stand to have sex with me since I started going to church. All he sees when he looks at me is the church. He hasn’t touched me in any loving way for 7 years.

    There is no loving touch, no loving anything between us. There is a lot of anger and resentment from both sides. Does this make us victims of each other’s actions. Maybe. Maybe he thinks he is a victim of my chronic diseases and he doesn’t enough compassion in him to see what the disease have done to me as well. Or maybe he is a victim of his father’s mental and physical abuse because his father blamed him for ruining his father’s life and he’s doing the only thing he knows how to get by.

    And then there’s me. Am I a victim of his hurtful actions and words? Maybe but I had already been through physical and mental abuse, I was already a “Victim”. I really hate that word! I have acted the victim long enough and have chosen never to act that way again. I know I didn’t help any. I was on medication and didn’t understand what I was going through. I will still make excuses for my actions, sometimes catching myself in mid sentence and retracting what I had said. I am angry because all I ever wanted was for someone to love me for me, all I ever wanted was some place I could call home. I will take that anger out on my husband sometimes but I’m learning to let go something he doesn’t want to do. He told me so. I don’t like the emotional roller coaster ride I’ve been on for so many years.

    You put so much clinical emphasis on being a victim. You have no idea unless you have walked in the shoes of someone who has been through abuse. OOps there I go again, being the “Victim”.

  3. Annette ( Ana Teresa) says:

    the repetitive interactional patterns ( conflictual cycles) are very difficult to change. Both partners get stuck in their complementary roles, even though they both claim to be the other´s victim. And charles is right: we need to get something out of it: we need to be confirmed in our bio-psycho-social core-identity by our partner, who is, definitely, the most important attachment figure in adult live.; this bio-psycho-social identity hopefully has nothing to do with being a victim.

  4. charles says:

    Hi Ruth.In relationships as I heard a wise indian sage say once,relationships are only based on what I get out of them.We are not honest enough to admit that.I guess love is a four letter word.All the best.

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