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Many spouses carry heavy suitcases full of anger and resentment about their marriage. Periodically, they unpack these bags and review each situation in which they feel they were treated unfairly.

“Resentment is an extremely bitter, and eventually poisonous, diet. I have no desire to make my own toxins,” says Neil Kinnock. Holding on to anger and resentment is toxic, and the resulting sludge can slowly poison you.

It’s easy to lose perspective of the big picture and obsess over how things “should” have been and how others “should” have treated you. In your mind, you can visualize yourself attacking the other person with the perfect verbal response or having an opportunity to get revenge in some way. The more you let your mind gallop in this direction, the angrier you will feel and the more self-righteous and justified in your reaction.

When you immerse yourself in anger, resentment, guilt, and revenge, you are only hurting yourself. In the process, you put yourself at risk for health problems, sleep difficulties, depression, relationship breakups, and daily turmoil. It automatically increases your stress level and decreases your enjoyment of life. And the longer you carry a grudge, the heavier it becomes.

Nothing you do to try to find inner peace will be effective when you are full of anger and resentment. “If we do not have peace within ourselves, it is in vain to look for it in external sources”, affirms Fran├žois de La Rochefoucauld. As long as you hold on to bitter feelings, you are sabotaging yourself by destroying any chance that you can experience peace of mind.

Dr. Wayne Dyer, in “10 Secrets to Success and Inner Peace,” states, “It is your ego that demands that the world and everyone in it be as you think they should be.” He goes on to say, “It is perhaps the single most healing thing you can do to completely remove the lower energies of resentment and revenge from your life.” Dr. Dyer likens resentment to the poison that continues to circulate in his system long after the snakebite has occurred. He emphasizes that it’s not the bite that kills you; is the poison

What, then, is the antidote? How can you find peace of mind? How can you deal with your feelings of anger and resentment over the experiences in your marriage? How can you create a peaceful marriage now?

The answer lies in letting go of resentment and practicing forgiveness. You can’t change what happened and you can’t control what your spouse decides to do. But you do have control over the choices you make.

You can choose to cut the emotional bond that keeps you tied to your anger and resentment. Instead, you can decide to experience the joy of freedom from the heavy burdens you’ve been carrying around for so long. To get the help you need to let go of the past, you always have the option of asking a therapist or minister for help.

Thomas Fuller observes: “He who cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass, for every man needs to be forgiven.” Without forgiveness, your life becomes an endless cycle of anger, resentment, and retaliation.

You practice forgiveness so you can stop ruminating on the past and put your energy into the present moment. And you practice forgiveness to be free from the poisonous effects of resentment.

So, you can experience peace of mind and bring that inner peace into your marriage. You will never have a peaceful marriage until you are at peace with yourself.

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