Dear Barbara: I got into a fight with my husband last night because I feel he does not appreciate all that I do and gives no help at all with our daughter, while I am expecting a second child.
Today I’m wondering if I’m looking for something from him that he can’t give. Or that he hasn’t learned how to give. I’d love to know how you kept your mind from resenting your husband when you felt as I feel today.
I’m so glad you asked. Yours is a question all wives can relate to in many seasons of marriage.
Like you my daughter, Laura, had her first baby in November two years ago. Her experience was difficult … over 24 long hours of labor ending in a C-section, then struggling to nurse. Then, two weeks later she caught a bad virus which affected her milk supply. And on it went for many months.
All the change, she felt, was hers to bear. She was exhausted from little sleep, which makes every decision, every relationship immensely more difficult. “Fatigue makes cowards of us all,” said Winston Churchill, meaning lack of sleep depletes us not just physically but emotionally and spiritually. Perpetual fatigue means we don’t think clearly or make good faith decisions.
When she shared her frustrations with me, I told Laura how I remembered feeling resentment toward my husband as he slept like a baby while my baby and I were awake off and on all night. And this repeated itself with five more kids! It seemed so unfair after all I endured that he bore so little.
Over all those baby years I learned many lessons. Here are a few.
1. Feeling resentment is not wrong. Feeding resentment is. Resentment begins when we feel circumstances are very unfair. We compare and make judgments. If we can’t resolve it we feel anger, self-rightness, superiority, or a sense of martyrdom. Refusing to see any fault in yourself, refusing to trust God’s work and timing, and then taking it out on the other person, your husband, is when feelings of unfairness become sin.
It’s too easy in the fog of sleep deprivation to nurse anger toward your sleeping-oblivious husband. There is much he doesn’t understand, he doesn’t know what he’s doing wrong, and he’s baffled on how to help you or “fix it.”
The enemy of your soul wants you to become angry, to feel justified that you are better or more superior than he because of all you are juggling or have suffered.
2. Comparison is a trap. Wives often compare our lot in life with our husband’s. Whether you work outside the home or not, it’s impossible for your life and your husband’s to be equal. You are two vastly different people with very different ways of responding to your life experiences.
The goal of oneness in marriage is learning to understand one another’s God-created uniquenesses. Though it’s impossible to ever fully understand, growing understanding is possible and builds intimacy, depth and oneness.
A favorite story of mine is the encounter between Peter and Jesus after the Resurrection. Over breakfast on the shore of Lake Galilee, Jesus gave Peter his “marching orders” for the future. The intense focus of Jesus’s eyes boring into Peter’s soul likely felt uncomfortable, so he, like we often do, attempted to shift the focus to someone else by asking, “What about him?”
Jesus responded, “…what is that to you? You follow Me!” (John 21:22). God often reminds me of this story, saying, “You follow Me. Keep your eyes on Me, not on your husband or on others.”
Jesus did not come to earth to make everyone’s life equal or fair. He came to redeem us from our comparison struggles, our critical attitudes and our sin that keeps us from knowing and following His individualized unique plan. What He had for Peter was different than John. What He has for you is different than what He has for your husband.
3. God did not design husbands to meet all of their wife’s needs. Neither does He expect wives to meet all their husband’s needs. This truth is a great liberator for us. Read it again and again. We aren’t responsible for meeting everyone’s needs—husband, children, mom, dad, siblings, or friends! God is!
Here is a great verse to remember: “For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name” (Isaiah 54:5). I used to think this was a lovely verse for women who never married or were suddenly single again, but I’ve come to see this verse is for married women, too, because no husband will ever be perfect or all that a woman needs. Look to Jesus, know you are His, and trust Him.
4. Conversations are necessary. Seasons of misunderstanding one another are actually wonderful opportunities for growing your marital oneness. God’s desire is for you to have healthy, helpful, honoring conversations about what you are feeling. Your husband can’t learn to help, care for you, or meet more of your needs if he doesn’t know what you are going through.
Here are six keys for conversations:
- Share how you feel and ask how he feels about your common circumstances—the new baby, your toddler who is wearing you out, etc.
- Focus on “me and I” statements like, “I feel like I’m doing it all by myself” and “I know you are trying or want to help.” Accusatory “you” statements like, “You never help!” only create more distance.
- Give him suggestions for how to help.
- Thank him for what he is doing and for the ways he does try hard.
- Don’t expect the issue to be resolved with one conversation. Husbands try to read wives, so after you’ve had one good night he may incorrectly assume all is now well. It takes time for men to understand the depth of your total experience because they think so differently than women.
- Remember that timing and patience is important. Too often we expect our husbands to be instantly mature and wise after one conversation. Usually it takes decades for men to learn how to love the wife God gave them.
One last suggestion: Hymns and worship songs have helped me remember truth. God has reminded me often of two of my favorite hymns, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” and “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less,” to say to me, “Where is your hope? Who are you looking to, Barbara?”
Let great lyrics like these help you remember His truth.
Hope this helps.
If this article helped you, check out these additional resources from Barbara:
Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being a Wife
“Dear Barbara: What If We Fight All the Time?”
16 thoughts on “Dear Barbara: How Do I Not Resent My Husband?”
It isn’t only new moms who experience resentment. I never had this experience then but I have it now with a retired husband who is done with work! while my job as a homemaker is never done.
I have been a caregiver for my husband who has a chronic health problem for 5 years. It is a progressive disease, so at first I really wanted to do all I could to help him. Now I am not wanting to do much, as I feel exhausted day after day. I have reached out to family and others, but it seems they are always busy and can help at a later time, and then don’t contact us much. I did accomplish something today by hiring a cleaning service to help me. Please pray for me that God will give me rest from what seems overwhelming, and also that He gives me someone to talk to about all this so I don’t feel so alone.
I’m so sorry about your husband’s needs and decline. Glad to hear you found someone to help you clean; that’s a big help. You do need someone to talk to. Does your church have a grief care ministry? If not, see if any other churches in your area do. You are in a season of loss and therefore grief as your husband declines. Finding one of these groups might connect you to others in similar situations.
May God guide you.
You gave amazing and heartwarming advice above to the young mom and to others who seem to be going through daily issues of suffering. Jennifer Janes has a wonderful story of what she is doing to curb her resentments. She is focused on the right things in her life right now and is thanking God for the small and meaningful blessings in her life.
God has placed you in a unique place, Barbara, and we listen to you because you have the experience and you have been where many of these moms are right now. That is why we listen to you via this blog. You care. THANK YOU!
May our Lord be with you, Dennis, your adult children and their spouses and their families.
Thank you for your kind words!!! How kind of you to write and share this with me. It means a lot!!! I do hope my experience encourages young moms in their marriages!
I adore my husband AND resent him. How is this possible? What a dichotomy! I appreciate you talking on this subject. It’s definitely an area in my heart that needs spiritual tending. I wonder if this “chasm” in our hearts is related to Eve’s curse in the garden, that her “desire will be for her husband” (Gen 3:16).
What a brave statement of honesty about your husband! My guess is many will relate and agree with you. I think you are right about our struggle being part of what resulted from Eve’s disobedience.
Keep walking with Jesus in your marriage!
These words are so helpful, Barbara. Resentment has run rampant in my mind this past season, so being reminded of the truth is like salve for my soul. Thank you.
Thanks Sami for commenting and I’m so grateful my words have encouraged you. You have demonstrated courageous faith over these last few years. I’m very proud of you!
Thanks so much for sharing such timely truth and wisdom, Barbara. This is the season I’m living in and struggling through. But God is faithful and is meeting me where I am, and giving me His peace, joy, and strength along the way. God bless you!!
Thanks for sharing your experience in making the choice to rejoice (Ps. 118:24) and giving thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18) , especially trying ones like those you shared!! Continue hanging in there, and following Barbara’s wise advice. So thankful for her spiritual leadership and encouragement :)
Thanks for bringing a balanced and godly perspective to a common problem for moms of little ones. I remember well how resentful I felt toward my husband during that season of life and it’s been over 30 years ago! Hmm…maybe I’m not really over it. I said a lot of things I wish I could take back. Although I did often cry out to the Lord and give Him the glory for getting me through it, there was a wedge driven between us that may never fully be removed. Although there was some medical justification for my only having one child, in my heart I know that I felt so disappointed and frustrated with his parenting or lack thereof, that I didn’t want to go through that again. In retrospect I realize that I was the loser. My only daughter is the delight and joy of my life and she has a good relationship with both of us. While God has forgiven me for my resentment and withholding of love, at times I wonder what our lives would have been like with more children. Resentment punishes the one who harbors it. Young moms who want to stay out of the minefield of resentment, blame, and long-term damaged marriages would do well to read your advice frequently and practice it diligently.
Thank you for this article. And thank you for being faithful to the call God has on your life. As a husband myself, I have followed the wisdom of your husband, Dennis, since I first became a believer about 6 years ago now. But reading this article gave me a fresh sense of the internal struggles my wife may go through. It truly helps me in my venture to live out 1 Peter 3:7. Thank you again, to both you and Dennis! What an awesome legacy.
Let me take a moment to say a heartfelt THANKS for this post…its a war i think every woman battles with irrespective of how wonderful our husbands are in their own special way and how strong we think our faith is… the enemy is out for God’s marriages i see it all the time and this topic is sooo prevalent and too common, it probably was the same war our mothers fought but they worked so well to conceal it. Thanks for shedding A LOT of light and thanks for your Godly perspective and counsel in this area…I’ve learned so much and will be reading over it from time to time for my own encouragement. God Bless your heart x
Oh my word, is this timely or what?! My husband just left in the wee dark hours this morning for a week’s worth of work in sunny, warm Arizona (he did mention palm trees), while I’m here in still-chilly Wisconsin to do my homeschooling mom job. My upstairs toilet clogged–AGAIN–at 8am and here I am at 1:30pm trying to determine if I’m going to be able to get this thing done or not. :\ “Dear Lord, please loose this clog!”
But, as I’ve been plunging away, listening to my boys fuss about who did/didn’t do what, and my youngest have too much freedom because I NEED to unclog the rediculous toilet again….**sigh** I was reminded early in the process of how grateful I am that I have a second bathroom; I’m grateful that I can be home with my children while God provides through my husband’s job; I’m grateful for our health; I’m grateful for the sunshine today (again, Wisconsin!); and I’m so very grateful for Jesus Christ. Even if nothing else went right this week, Jesus accomplished everything necessary to experience joy in my day, even if it is through tears, hunched over the toilet, praying for a clog to let go. Thanks for the post. Now, back to the plunger…