Resentment. We’ve all felt it from time to time. But we didn’t expect that we could build up so much toward the one we love the most. This didn’t happen before kids. Now we are running around a mile a minute at night – folding the clothes, bathing the kids, putting away dishes, and changing yet another diaper while our husbands flip between Shark Week and Shark Tank. And then he wonders later why you’re too tired or not interested in sex that night. Really?! Clair Hatch, author of “Save Your Marriage: Get Rid of Resentment” points out that when resentment causes your suppression of certain feelings (say anger or sadness toward your husband), you end up suppressing all of your feelings for him, resulting in less warmth, less affection, and less curiosity. No wonder you’re not “in the mood”! How can you end the resentment toward your husband?
Without Good Communication, Resentment Just Builds
Have you let him know there’s a problem with the household duty balance? Or do you not mention it because you are certain that he can’t possibly be blind to this? Chances are it’s the latter. If the situation were reversed, you know that you would notice the work imbalance and then offer to pitch in and share the work. Since this is what you would do, it doesn’t make sense that you need to explain this to him. Yet when things don’t change, the storm of resentment inside your head builds and builds. Depending on the day, this storm could range anywhere from a cold rain, to a Category 3 hurricane! Regardless of the severity of the storm, it is safe to say that you are certainly not ‘in the mood’!
The Unintended Consequences
Whether you are simply just ‘not in the mood’, or worse, you consciously decide to withhold sex, your resentment is most likely putting your relationship in a downward spiral. Like it or not, when you and your husband aren’t connecting physically, your husband starts to feel unconnected to you, and he might not even be noticing you or all the work you are doing to keep the house going. It goes without saying that men and women are different, yet one of the differences that many wives fail to truly understand is how our husbands view sex. Simply put, for men the physical intimacy in a relationship is a critical form of communication for them; and a very important way for them to build and nurture emotional intimacy! Yikes!
So How Can You End the Resentment?
If you’re in the middle of the downward spiral, you’re probably wondering if there a way to stop it? How? Who’s going to end it? You sure don’t think it should be you. After all, it is his ignorance that started it all, right? Well, just like we tell our arguing kids, it no longer matters who started it, and both sides have the ability to end it. And since ending the downward spiral is in everyone’s best interest, why not you take the first step?
Specifically, here are four things you can do to end the resentment toward your husband:
1) Speak up. Go right to the heart of most marital conflict – lack of communication. Be calm, but clear and direct. Let your man know what you need to feel more like a partner in this relationship. And you know from the past that when you bottle things up, eventually there will be an explosion that is 10 times larger than it would have been had you just addressed things as they came up. Take the Category 3 (and 2, and 1) storms out of your marriage – it’s part of being a grown up and setting a good role model for your kids.
2) Let your husband do his share. It happens over and over again where the mom picks up the household jobs because she thinks she does it better than her husband – and then she gets mad because she’s doing everything. But everything doesn’t need to be done your way. His way is good too, and studies have shown that most men are in fact trainable. But he won’t get better if he doesn’t practice. Aren’t you trying to teach your kids the same?
3) Prioritize your relationship. At this stage of your life, it’s easy to let your kids become the focus of your existence, but your relationship with your partner needs to come first. After all, some day our little babies will be off to college and on their own and our golden years don’t have a chance of being so golden if we haven’t continued to nurture our marriage along the way. One the greatest gifts we can give to our kids is the example of a loving and healthy relationship. That is way more important than folded laundry, clean dishes, and getting to bed precisely by 9:30 pm.
4) Extend an olive branch. Tell him what you want. Find out what he wants. If he wants to connect physically more frequently, try to find a way to get past the resentment and give it a try. Remember, on some level he is showing his desire to communicate with you. But when resentment is lingering it can be hard to get yourself mentally in the mood for intimacy. Luckily there are tools such as erotic books or our film series that can help with this. Alternatively, you can spend a few minutes mentally visualizing your own fantasy. All of these can be very helpful in building cognitive arousal, which can increase your receptivity and enjoyment of his advances.
By getting yourself mentally in the mood, you can start loving him in the way he wants to be loved. In turn, it will help inspire him to do the same for you, changing the downward spiral into an upward spiral that increases communication and strengthens your relationship!