Dear Dr. Romance:

I recently read your No Cooperation? Solve it Yourself! If I am to solve the problem for myself won't that just create resentment that the other party is unwilling to help?

Dear Reader:

Well, you could choose to be resentful, or you could focus on how great it is to have the choice to do it for yourself. If you allow yourself to store up resentment, you'll ruin all the other great things in your relationship.

Resentment comes from not wanting to take responsibility for yourself: you are disappointed, but don't want to really acknowledge it, and you also don't want to do the work of choosing a new goal, so you avoid it by wallowing in self-pity. If the event you're resenting mimics a previous trauma, or your worst nightmare (you've been betrayed -- again!), you're more likely to sink into bitterness. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, and it feels like you're doomed. It's a mental mechanism keep you from having to grow up.

Here's how to get over it.
1. Swear off guilt: Guilt is like time payments buying time to avoid grieving and keep suffering forever. Instead, do the grieving you need to do, figure out how you helped create the problems (or stayed around for them) and decide to change what didn't work before. Grieve all you need, but don't blame yourself or exaggerate your feelings.
2. Don't assign blame: If you blame someone else, you'll eventually turn that blame on yourself. So, instead of blaming, find some more neutral things to say: "I’m disappointed." “It didn’t go my way, but I’ll be OK.”
3. Focus on re-building your life. Resentment is not practical; it's a negative fantasy. Focus on the practical things you need to do and think. Get your emotional, personal and financial life together as soon as you can. Think about all the things you've been freed up to do, and do some of them. Try things you would never have done before, or things you've always wanted to do. Use the energy from your anger and grief, and channel them into doing things just for you. Try out for that local theater, take dancing lessons or an art class, learn to scuba dive, get a pet, or plant a garden. All of those things will keep you focused on the present and the future, instead of the past.

Discontent and frustration are destructive, because they give rise to hopelessness and despair. If you can’t solve problems, communicate or get along with yourself or someone else, you’ll lose hope that you will ever be able to enjoy life. Resentment and frustration rob your days of the joyous and happy moments. "Apology and Forgiveness"  will help you let go of your resentment.  Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences will teach you the techniques you need to know to have a successful relationship.  

If there are not enough great things in your relationship to make it worthwhile, then let it go. Then you'll be single, and doing everything for yourself. I wish you the best of luck with your relationship.

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For low-cost phone counseling, email me at tina@tinatessina.com

Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.