The Power of Resentment

I have a confession. I have been consumed by the ugly feeling of resentment towards my husband all week, and he doesn’t know it. I suddenly resented so many things from him getting ready for work at his own leisurely pace each morning without dealing with crying children, to him not having the same mindset of what a clean house should look like while he casually steps over the toys strewn across the floor. I felt like his life was immensely easier than mine, and how dare he not recognize this imbalance on his own terms and do something about it. Doesn’t he see I do everything?

Then I realized something. I realized how ugly my feeling was, how toxic my feeling was, and most importantly, how completely utterly false my feeling was. Does he get to wake up to a quiet house every morning and get ready for work on his own terms while my mornings are a complete shit show of crying children and gridlock traffic? Yes. However, he also wakes up at 2:45am every morning for his non-flexible physically intensive job while I get to sleep until 6am in our warm bed and wake up for my very flexible desk job. Maybe he quietly resented me each morning when he left for work thinking my life was immensely easier than his. And just maybe that explosive argument about forgetting to buy cat food wasn’t really about cat food at all, but instead an outlet for these built up quiet resentments we had towards one another. Stressors we packaged up as resentment, so we could seek blame.

As humans, we are naturally inclined to look for fault or blame for something negative in our life, whether that is a specific event, emotion, or stressor. We want to validate that this negative moment was not our doing, something we would never inflict upon ourselves. Blaming others is easy. We don’t have to accept accountability, we don’t need to face vulnerability, and we don’t have to admit we lost control. When it comes to stressors of parenthood, we still seek that blame. Except the difference is, we would never truly blame our children, and we almost certainly would never blame ourselves, so who does that leave? Our partners.

There is a reason why relationships “are not what they used to be” after having children because “people change.” Parenthood is fucking hard, stressful, and VERY unromantic. You love this beautiful human you created with every fiber of your being, but yet they have turned your world upside down, and make you live in survival mode most days. Having a partner who can be in the trenches with you is the most powerful survival tool you can possibly have, as they are the only ones who love this little human as much as you, and also feel the impact of the challenges they bring as deeply as you.  So why do so many partners fight on opposing lines instead of protecting and helping one another?

Communication is the single most important aspect of a relationship, and can often slip away long before you realize, and slowly your communication turns into bitter snapping instead of a healthy conversation. When something brings negativity into your life, it is important to communicate and unearth the root cause, truly understanding why it makes you feel the way it does. There are so many layers of a simple stressor that you need to peel back. It is not my husband’s fault that my mornings are busier than his, therefore I should not blame him or resent him. Instead I need to understand WHY my mornings are stressful, and what I can do to fix that. If something brings you stress or negativity, it is YOUR responsibility to fix it. One thing that I had packaged up as resentment was that I was always the one to make the kid’s lunch in the evenings for the next day. However, I realized I was always the one to do it because I just did it, I never gave my husband an opportunity to do it. So the other day I asked for help, and guess what? My husband helped. It was that simple. Now we have been switching off this task, and I feel so much better.

Resentment is such an ugly, good for nothing, feeling. It is healthy to feel emotions, the good and the bad, but there should be no room for resentment in anyone’s world. I am not an expert, I am not a perfect mother, and I am not a perfect wife, but I do know I love my husband, who is an amazing father and partner, and I know resentment belongs nowhere in our marriage. If you begin to feel this way, always take a step back, understand WHAT is bringing you stress, and HOW you can eliminate that stress. Ask for help. Communicate. And most importantly, don’t let the small things consume you, life is way too short.

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