Sometimes we don’t give up resentment because we are just plain stubborn and don’t believe we are the ones who should do the changing to improve the relationship. go down rather than “give in” or admit contribution to the problem.
Reminds me of the fable of the scorpion and the frog:
A scorpion crossing the sand comes to a river.
Scorpions can’t swim, so he sits down to take his breath and assess his options.
He spots a frog doing push-ups on the river bank and hatches a plan.
He approaches the frog, puts on his friendliest “I’m not a threat” face and asks a frog to carry him across a river.
The frog, wary as all hell, puts a decent amount of distance between himself and the stranger and says “you must be mad! You’ll sting me!”
To which the scorpion says “don’t be ridiculous! If I sting you then we’ll both drown!”
The frog thinks for a little. His entire life he’s been urged to avoid scorpions like the plague. But he’s also been raised to do a good turn when he can, to offer charity and to solve problems logically.
His charitable and logical side win out.
The frog agrees that it would be stupid to kill them both, and so he tells the scorpion to jump on his back, and crosses the river.
When they’re halfway across the river the scorpion can’t control himself and lifts his stinger.
The frog, even though he can’t see what’s going on, feels uneasy.
The uneasy feeling is instinctively right. The next thing he feels is the stinger being brought down hard into his back.
It’s painful. His legs start to go numb. He realizes he’s not going to make it to the other side, with or without the scorpion. they’re both doomed.
As they both start to drown, the frog says “you stung me! We’re both going to drown!”
“Of course,” the scorpion replies somewhat stoically… it’s what I do.”
Tom and Stacy have been married for 25 years with 4 grown children. His wife refers to him as “an alcoholic a**hole.” But, he got sober and now wants to re-build the relationship. She kicked him out of the house for a year, but he is now back… sort of. She ignores him most of the time with her life now being devoted to her job and being a grandmother. Tom has no status in he household or the marriage.
I asked Stacy why she lives her life as if Tom doesn’t exist. I asked him what he does to try and re-build the relationship. He admits he does nothing except telling her he wants more. He admits he hasn’t remembered her birthday for 25 years. He has never asked her out on a “date” since they have been married. He sees no relationship between his doing nothing to re-kindle the relationship and his wife’s distance and coldness. He never asks her about her day or her life. He is completely self-centered.
In therapy I ask him why he doesn’t make some kind of move to connect with his wife. His reply: “I just don’t do that.”
Some people are just plain rigid and unbending. They don’t believe in change.