This week is Nana camp with my three beautiful granddaughters. It’s wonderful and exhausting at the same time. I will be doing a FB Live on Thursday at 7:30 PM ET introducing my 5-day Moving Beyond Challenge which starts the last week of June. I’m inviting my granddaughters to come on FB to say hi and they’re deciding whether they are excited or afraid. Interesting, it’s the same feeling inside, but depending on how we “label” that feeling, we either feel positive or negative.
So I hope you take my (5) Day Challenge. It’s free and it just might help get your year 2018 back on track. For more information click here.
Question: I am feeling overwhelmed. My husband always has something physically wrong with him and so he either sleeps or watches TV. We live in a small duplex and I am gone a lot to supplement our income as we are both retired. I find it so discouraging to come back home to him. I even resent that he doesn't do much of anything.
He does empty the dishwasher most of the time and does some laundry. My attitude seems to be getting worse even though I pray and ask God to help me. I know I should be thankful that I can do the things I do but I am resenting him more and more. I know God doesn't want me to be this way. I need help.
Answer: I’m so glad you recognize that you have been sinking into the resentment pit and it’s a very difficult place to break free from.
In last week’s blog, I talked about passivity and I’m wondering if you have been passive as well, silently resenting your husband’s lack of contribution to your family needs.
We all have limited resources at our disposal in order to manage the tasks of life. We have our money, our energy, and our time. From what you wrote, you are spending some of your energy and time making money because that resource is lacking for retirement. But energy and time are also required to manage a home. Cleaning, laundry, shopping, budgeting, paying bills, and cooking are the basic tasks that an individual, couple, or family have to manage to keep a home functioning.
When one person in a family or relationship is out earning the money in order to replenish that resource, it’s often agreed that the person who stays at home or has more disposable time uses his or her energy to do more of the home tasks.
Here’s where a woman can start to feel resentful when she is forced or feels it’s her responsibility to over-function in order to keep her family boat afloat. She works to contribute income but also finds herself spending her other time and energy doing the household chores. She sees her husband (and sometimes children) using his extra time and energy relaxing, having fun, playing games, and watching television. In other words, the relationship is neither mutual nor reciprocal. It sounds like this is what’s happening to your marriage.
However, here is where a woman must take some responsibility for her own over-functioning. When this pattern becomes the standard order of family life it’s often because we as women have been way too accommodating and passive to this imbalance. We haven’t spoken up and said, “Hey, this arrangement is not okay with me. I am not willing to be the only person taking responsibility for the care and maintenance of our family needs.”
So my question to you is have you had that conversation with your husband?
Have you informed him that you’re tired when you get home from work and on those days you need him to plan and cook the family dinner? Have you asked him to take over certain regular household responsibilities like laundry or shopping for groceries or cleaning so that you don’t have to do that plus work outside the home? Don’t assume he automatically knows this or notices the huge imbalance.
Your husband is preoccupied with his health – real or imagined, you didn’t say. But either way, when a person is anxious about something, his mind is filled up with worry and it’s not likely that he is thinking much about you or your needs. Therefore all the more reason why you need to be specific in what you want from him. However, just informing him of your needs doesn’t necessarily mean he will meet them or even care to meet them. Having you take all the responsibility for the care and maintenance of the home and finances might work perfectly for him.
But not so for you. I’m glad you recognize that your built up anger has hardened into resentment and that is not good. So let me give you some things you can do to move beyond your resentments because it is God’s will that you let them go.
1. Decide. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:31 to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.”
God knows that these negative emotions are toxic for your health – emotionally, spiritually, and physically. But one of the problems in letting go of them is that we feel so justified having them. You may think, “My husband won’t change even if I do speak up. He doesn’t hear me or he doesn’t care.” And that may be true. But what does it cost YOU to hang on to your resentment? It doesn’t impact him nearly as much as it impacts you. For your own well-being, you must decide to let these negative feelings go, even if they feel totally justified.
2. Continue to pray for God’s Spirit to help you. It is God’s desire for you to live in peace and not in inner turmoil and resentment. David almost got caught in the pit of resentment when he saw how the wicked got away with living treacherously and the innocent always seemed to have a harder life (See Psalm 71). We see Biblical examples of people who had every reason to feel resentful yet did not. For example, Joseph could have seethed with resentment when his brothers sold him into slavery or Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph of rape but he did not(Genesis 42-45). The apostle Paul could have been resentful when he was unjustly put in prison or when other Christians questioned his credentials as an apostle but he did not. Jesus himself was tempted in all ways like we are, yet did not sin. We see by these examples that it is possible to feel hurt and angry, yet not allow that anger to fester into bitterness or resentment. But how? How do we not let that happen?
3. Take charge of your emotions and your thought life. Sometimes we over-identify with a particular feeling and lose sight of our bigger self. For example, you may say, “I am resentful,” but you are not resentful. That’s not your identity. It is your feeling. You feel resentful. But there is another part of you that doesn’t want to feel that way or you wouldn’t be praying to get rid of it. Tap into that part of yourself and help that part of you be more in charge. As you do that, see what happens. Now you know your feelings, but your feelings no longer have or control you.
One of the quickest ways to let go of a negative emotion that you do not want to have anymore is to pay attention to your thought life and purposely change the channel.
Let me explain. I bet if I could listen to your thoughts during your drive home from work you would be thinking some pretty negative thoughts about your husband. Maybe you would be telling yourself, “I bet he didn’t do a thing all day. He’s so lazy. He just doesn’t care about me at all. All he cares about is himself and how he feels. I am so sick of this. I can’t take it anymore. He’s driving me crazy. I can’t stand him.”
Here’s an illustration that might help you understand how we can change how we feel by changing our thoughts. When you watch a scary movie and you’re feeling really scared and don’t want to feel that way, what do you do? You don’t try to talk yourself out of your feelings, you change the channel or turn the movie off.
In the same way when you don’t want to feel a certain feeling don’t “feed” it with continual negative thoughts, even if your thoughts have some elements of truth to them. You can stop the flow of negative thoughts about what your husband is or isn’t doing. You can change the channel. Paul, no stranger to hardship or difficult people around him, counsels us about this when he says “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8).
When you catch yourself dwelling on all his negative qualities, switch the channel to things you are grateful for. God reminds us that in all circumstances we need to give thanks (note – not FOR all circumstances – 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Perhaps you can’t be thankful for your husband or even the situation you are in right now, but you can look for things you are thankful for. Think about the good things in your life instead of all the ways your husband lets you down or disappoints you. This practice helps you guard your heart and mind as Paul instructs and Proverbs encourages us to do.
And last, it’s important to understand that although we don’t want our emotions to control us, they do inform us. Your emotions are telling you that something is wrong and that you are not staying well. You know that already or you wouldn’t have written and asked how to get rid of your resentment.
As you try implementing some of these things notice how you feel. If you find yourself continuing to sink and/or your husband refuses to make some changes to carry more of the load, it’s time to reevaluate your situation, your own self-care regimen and what you need to do to take care of you.
It might be that you need to get some professional help or separate from him to gain greater clarity on your steps towards greater health and sanity. The Bible tells us that each person needs to carry his or her own load (Galatians 6:5).
When we continually over-function and carry the load for a person who refuses to carry his or her own load, we aren’t being Biblically sacrificial, we are being unwise and enabling of his or her dysfunction to continue. Don’t let that happen. Click To Tweet
Friends, what have you done to let go of resentment, especially when you felt your resentment was totally warranted?