Monday, April 21, 2014


I know everyone is posting their Easter pictures and weekend recaps today, and trust me when I say I have a lot to recap, but... I'm going to save all that for tomorrow. Did I tell you my Daughter1 got engaged last Thursday, and besides Easter we celebrated that event this weekend too?

Well we did, and I have many words and more than a few pictures to share, but first there's today.

When I settled on my A-Z Blog Challenge theme of 'married with children' there were a few words that popped into my head right off the bat, and today's word is one of them. I will go ahead and tell you up front it's not a happy word. In fact, it's one of those icky words that shows up at one time or another in, what I feel is safe to say, all marriages.

R is for Resentment

We all have expectations going in to marriage, and then heaps more expectation is added to that pile once children enter the picture. I think for the most part our expectations are a reflection of the homes we were raised in, and the roles our own parents played or didn't play, as we grew up.  

Men and women come into marriage oftentimes assuming their spouse will manage the same home and family responsibilities that their own mother or father managed. Will you both work? Share household chores?  Who plans meals, shops, and cooks? Who manages the money? When children come along, how will their physical and emotional needs be met, and by whom? Will one parent stay home, or is daycare an expectation? Will you spend all your weekend hours together? Have girls or boys nights out? Vacation with family? Never vacation? 

I'm not specifically doling out advice to my bride-to-be daughter this month (okay, maybe I am) but hey she reads here, and this word is one she will likely have to work out within her own marriage some day. She is marrying a boy with a calling, a boy who will have an exceedingly demanding job, both in terms of the long hours his profession requires, as well as in responsibility and mental focus. He'll need to stay on top of an ever changing field, which means a lifelong commitment to learning. There will certainly be room for a wife to feel resentment.

Dear all brides-to-be-

Resentment is a weed, and should be killed before it has a chance to grow. 

Been there, done that, but maybe not always as quickly as I should have. 

I imagine most married people reading here have had occasion to feel resentment. I think I hate that feeling more than almost any other. That first year as a mother of two I remember feeling irritable and resentful, sleep deprived and just plain exhausted. It's not like hubs was out living it up either. He was driving an hour+ to work, racking up frequent flyer miles with lots of business travel,  travel that sometimes meant leaving on a Sunday afternoon in order to be in some other city for an early Monday morning meeting. These things were not within his power to change, but nobody said resentment was logical.  

I know some men who want to (and do!) spend every Saturday and Sunday playing golf with their pals, or lying stretched out in their favorite chair watching back to back sporting events. My hubs has never been one of those men, not as a husband to me or as a father to his daughters. I'm sure he sometimes wanted to, but he's always put his family first, and usually done so with a smile. I also know men who resent their wife spending time with girlfriends, spending money on herself, or pursuing hobbies that don't include him. There's all sorts of places resentment can rear it's ugly head. 

Even in this empty nest season of life, there have been times where hubs has traveled a ridiculous amount for work, and I've been home, and then the weekend arrives and he's thinking he can relax and lay low, and I'm thinking, 'Let's go do something." 

Expectation and resentment go hand in hand in relationships. 

I don't think you can necessarily predict going in what it is you may come to resent as you live life with another human, but I do think you can have a plan to minimize and handle resentment as it attempts to de-rail marriage. And I think this simple statement is the secret to a happy marriage in pretty much all areas actually, but particularly when you feel resentment creeping in.  

Put the needs of your spouse before your own. 

I'm not saying don't take care of yourself, but marriage above all else needs to be lived out unselfishly. I know that notion is contrary to so much of what is out there in the world at large, but when you are in a marriage where that other person puts your needs and desires before their own, it is a beautiful thing. Does it always happen? No, of course not...we're marrying other humans remember? And sometimes it's hard. Really hard. Because, as we jokingly say in our house, 'I want what I want.'-ha! 

We all know what resentment feels like. We can recognize the early warning signs...the growing knot in our stomach, the tension that seeps into our tone, the way our head fills with thoughts of whatever it is that's bugging us, or whatever it is we're wanting but not getting, the mental list you begin constructing of how over-worked, over-stressed, over-burdened, over-everything you are.

I read somewhere recently that many marriages break up, not over big serious things, but over an accumulation of small resentments never dealt with, that have now built up into an unbreakable wall. So what helps? I'm not a therapist, I just play one on my blog,...

1. A hot bath. I'm serious. I believe a long hot soak in the tub can help you see life differently.

2. A nap. See reasoning in #1. 

3. Making a list of three things things I love about my hubs.

4. Praying for him. 

5. Praying for me.  

6. Telling him what's bothering me, what I was hoping for or expecting, using words to try to figure out a compromise, the right time, which is generally not when he has just walked in the door. 

7. Re-read that list I made in #3. 

We most often define love in terms of what it is, yet in that that oft quoted scripture, what it's not is given equal importance. I don't know a lot, but I do know those words were not written there by chance. 

" is not irritable or resentful...
1 Corinthians 13:5

So tend your garden my sweet daughter, and brides everywhere, for in so doing you make room for love to bloom bigger and more beautifully with every season of married life. 


  1. Joyce, As I mentioned in an earlier post "it's in the air." My daughter's boyfriend came to hubby Saturday night at asked if he could marry our daughter. She hasn't gotten her ring yet so it's still hush-hush… but it appears we might be planning weddings about the same time.

    I loved all you wrote about handling resentment. Good advice to newly and not-so-newly weds! I remember times when my girls were little feeling as you did. Hubby was out at fancy-shmancy dinners and events and I was eating chicken nugget leftovers. BUT…. I would not have changed my life with the girls one tiny bit. I was so happy to be a "Stay at home mom"… and most times I knew I was fortunate to have a hubby who also wanted me there, and could make an income to allow it.

    We all must tend gardens to keep them beautiful! Weeds seem to pop up even even in the sunny times! Yes, same goes for married life.

    I look forward to hearing more about your daughter's wedding!

  2. Well said. I wish I were a master at weeding.

  3. Good advice for brides and good advice for old marrieds.

  4. Yep. What you said. ;). If you put your A-Z in a book, I would buy it for my children and every future bridal shower I attend. Seriously.

    And oh my gosh, I am beyond excited for Shannon and you too!

  5. 1) Best Wishes Daughter1! (And congratulations, Mom!) 2) Very wise words in general, even if you're not married. Resentment is never helpful. A version of jealousy, and we are never at our best when it's in ascendency.

  6. Congratulations!
    Wonderful, eloquent advice.
    Now - there's a wedding in the making!!
    I'm wondering if the hubs is going into the ministry? You've piqued my curiosity!

  7. Well, I'm pretty sure you could write a book on "How to do Marriage Right" and it would be a best seller. I've so enjoyed all your posts and they are full of such truth! So, so excited for you at this special time in your family's life.

  8. I think your daughters are in good hands you have great marriage advice! I'm lucky also that my hubby puts family first our weekends are about being have to communicate it's the key. Have they set a date yet? So excited for them...what a beautiful couple!

  9. Congrats to your daughter and fiance'!!

    Very good advice today Joyce!!