Today’s Best of Both Worlds episode covers the hot topic of marriage and resentment. A listener wrote in describing her family situation, which has some similarities to what Sarah and I both experience. Her husband works longer and less flexible hours than she does. She understands that, but she cares about her career too, and she occasionally feels like she’s running the home front while her husband works. Which is not what she signed up for! So how do you manage those occasional feelings of resentment?
It’s a good question. We started this episode as marriage therapists will often have people do, by describing how we first met our husbands. In the throes of early love, we are more inclined to be generous to people. This is a mental state that is then helpful for analyzing current situations.
I don’t think either of us have 100 percent sorted this out. But there are a few things that can help.
Make sure you get what you need. What makes life feel good for you? Sarah described thinking through the weekends when she covers her husband’s call, and making sure that she got in (for example) two workouts, a nap, some reading time, and a social occasion. One is less inclined toward resentment when there are positive things going on. It’s less “woe is me” and more “hey, I’m having fun going out with my friends; I’m sorry my husband is missing this because of work.”
Spend to get to 50-50. We now have evening childcare because I was tired of handling so many evenings by myself when my husband traveled. I still do a lot of childcare in the evenings, but now there’s almost always an extra set of hands. I don’t feel guilty about it at all. I’m still around! I’m not outsourcing me, I’m outsourcing my husband’s half of all this. Extra help costs money, but if one party is working long hours or traveling, hopefully their compensation is commensurate with those extra duties. If not, that is a different discussion, but somewhat outside the scope of what we covered in this episode.
Communicate. We discussed Sarah’s “household summit,” in which she and her husband discuss plans and parenting decisions and such. Other people can’t read our minds, and if issues are approached in a non-accusatory manner, sometimes both parties can brainstorm good solutions.
Nurture the relationship. Anything that helps keep that spark of early love can reduce the resentment factor. So plan in date nights, or date weekends, and make sure to keep the physical aspect of the relationship going. As frequently as possible!
We welcome any other strategies for reducing the resentment factor. Also, a surprising number of our new episodes are now based on listener questions, so please keep those coming!