Recently I was speaking to a woman with a very good marriage. They’ve been married for dozens of years and they are each other’s best friends. They do a ton of stuff together. But for the last few weeks their marriage has been very strained.
Here’s the scenario: they are doing a huge renovation of their kitchen which is taking longer than expected. The contractors are all over the place, making tons of noise, while she has to do her own work in her office. Every so often they have questions, and she has to make split second decisions. Her home is not her own.
Her husband, on the other hand, leaves for work at 8 and doesn’t get home until 6, so he doesn’t have to deal with them or try to work in the noise. And then he asks whether she mentioned this to the contractor, or that to the contractor. She gets upset because she has to remember all these things, and she has to deal with the contractor, when she doesn’t want to. He gets out of it simply by virtue of the fact that he works away from home. And it’s causing some resentment.
I remember feeling resentment when the kids were young and Keith was working and I never had any time to myself. And my children didn’t like to go to others, so it was hard to leave them with a baby-sitter. Besides, I was nursing, so how exactly do I get away from the kids for more than 4 hours when they won’t take a bottle? It was tough.
And then, when they got older, I was similarly resentful at times, because I would be trying to take them on outings, and give them stimulation, and have fun with them, and Keith would arrive home and wonder what we had done all day because the house was a mess. We both grew through that, and I now keep certain parts of the house neat, and he doesn’t complain, but it was stressful.
It wasn’t that I didn’t love my husband. It wasn’t that I didn’t love my marriage or my kids.
But there are times when we feel that we got the short end of the stick.
He gets to work and meet people and feel important, and we’re cleaning up when somebody missed the potty. We deal with the refrigerator repairmen, and the doctor’s appointments, and we keep track of everything, and he gets off scot free.
Is it fair?
All of these are completely normal feelings, but I think we have to watch them. If you had asked me, during my resentful phase, if I had wanted to work outside the home, I would have told you no. Yet I still resented parts of being at home. It was just that normal ambivalence. But it’s not like I would have wanted it any other way.
Sometimes, in our daily lives, we’re going to feel put upon and as if we have a worse life than our husbands.
But ask yourself this: is the problem with the way my husband is treating me, or is the problem simply about a stage in our lives? If it’s not that he’s doing anything wrong, then perhaps the issue is more with your attitude than it is with him, and you’re projecting your frustration onto him.
If you have decided to stay at home, or to work, or whatever, then remember that it was you who made that choice. It’s between you and God and your husband whether you want to continue to do that, and if I were you I’d take it up with your Maker. When I talked to God in those frustrating years, He’d frequently give me such a clear sense of calling to be with the kids that it took away that resentment. Certainly there may be times when it reared its ugly head again, but I realized that Keith was not doing anything bad to me; it was just a natural consequence of how I had decided to live my life. And if I were honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
No life course we will choose will be perfectly fulfilling or perfectly fun. But that’s not really the point. It’s not about having fun as much as it is about living out our calling in life. And when we see it that way, our eyes go to God, rather than to ourselves or to our husbands.
Now if the issue is more that your husband takes you for granted, or doesn’t seem to appreciate what you do around the house or with the kids, and isn’t involved at all, then you need my book, To Love, Honor and Vacuum: When you feel more like a maid than a wife and a mother.
But one route out of a lot of this resentment is to focus on two things: what you feel called to in life, and what you love about your marriage.
Keep these two things uppermost in your mind, and then when inevitable frustrations come, it will be easier to keep them from turning into resentment towards your mate.