I WAS MAD! Furious, in fact. Bitter and fed up. Totally resenting my husband. This was like the gazillionth Saturday in a row my husband got up and left the house to go do a job for someone and I was left with all the laundry and housework. Both of us had full-time jobs and paying someone else to do it was not an option.
This particular Saturday I decided I’d had enough. So, when he walked back through the door late that afternoon, I let him have it. I had rehearsed all day what I was going to say and how I was going to say it to make sure he didn’t miss a thing. The “deer-in-the-headlights” look I got in return let me know he was 100% clueless that resentment had been building up for a while. How in the heck could he NOT know?
That happened about three decades ago, but I remember like it was yesterday. That was the day I realized resenting my husband was actually more dangerous than his cluelessness.
So, here’s what this resentful spouse learned about how to stop resenting her husband.
Ultimately, I had to ask myself, “Are there any ways I am contributing to the resentment I feel?” I learned that I was following behind everything he attempted to do like folding the towels, vacuuming, or even putting the dishes in the dishwasher and criticizing how he did it. I finally figured out that criticizing him made him shut down, so I decided to stop.
Instead of thinking he could read my mind or SEE what needed to be done like the laundry basket I intentionally left sitting in the middle of the family room, I started telling him that I needed help with certain things and I didn’t tell him “the right way” (i.e. “my way”) to do whatever I asked him to do.
If I am always at odds with my husband, I’m not very pleasant to be around. I honestly don’t want to resent my husband. What I really want is for us to enjoy time together, so I decided when I felt myself getting irritated and resentful to literally stop what I was doing and take a walk around the block and ask myself: “What is really at the crux of the matter?”
Sometimes, I actually noticed, I just needed someone to be irritated with and he was an easy target. Other times, something didn’t go like I thought it should—date night, dinner plans, his arrival time home, he didn’t do what he said he was going to do because he forgot or whatever and I felt justified in my resentment. Now what?
One time when I was ranting about all of my husband’s shortcomings, a very wise woman said to me, “So, I guess he never experiences any of this from you right?” The fact that she was 90 and I was 30 kept me from losing it. The truth was, she had a great point. I forget, not often, but I do. There are plenty of things I do that get on his nerves that he could resent about me. And, then she said to me, “In the end, what is it you want? I mean, what is your resentment going to accomplish in your relationship? At the very best you will be two people who figure out how to co-exist in the same house and at the very worst, you won’t stay together. Is that how you want to live?” The answer was an emphatic NO! That was the moment I decided I was going to kick ongoing resentment out of our house and relationship.
When I feel resentment trying to creep in, I figure out where it is coming from and if it is worthy of a conversation. If I believe that it is conversation-worthy, I ask my husband for a good time to talk. PRO-TIP: We have learned that if you are tired, hungry, or angry, that is not the time to try and have a conversation. When I can calmly explain, “I am exhausted and need help with our daughter,” or “I really need time with you—I am missing us,” it is a much better conversation than, “You never help with anything around here,” or “I think you don’t love me because you never want to spend time with me.” Trust me on this one.
✭ Let me be straight up with you: if you are experiencing resentment because you are in a physically, emotionally, or sexually abusive relationship, seek help. Abuse is serious and unacceptable. It will be difficult to navigate change in your relationship on your own.
If I were having coffee with my 29-year-old self, I would have no shortage of lessons learned to share, that’s for sure. Maybe one of the most important lessons I’ve learned when it comes to resentment is that I have a choice. I can choose to be resentful or I can choose not to be resentful. When I can see clearly, what I know about my husband is, he is trustworthy, hardworking, funny, respectful, honest, a good father, reliable and he really does care about me and us. When I think about those things, often what I am resentful about pales in comparison.
What kind of a guy are you married to? Have you trained your brain to only see his shortcomings? Here’s a challenge, for the next 30 days, focus on your husband’s positive character qualities instead of his flaws. Appreciation goes a long way when it comes to relationship restoration. You might be really surprised how you feel about him at the end of the challenge, and you just might be surprised at how he responds to you. 😉
If you have decided that waiting around for him to get the message that he is the problem and he needs to change, I am pretty confident you will be disappointed. It just takes one person doing something different to bring about change in your marriage. The question is, how badly do you want something to be different?
***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***