There are many ways to get rid of resentment, but today I’m going to give you the one that has been the most successful as I work with clients, and in my own life. Before I do that, I want to introduce myself. My name is Janna Denton-Howes. I am a marriage coach. I am also the creator of two programs, 30 Days To Wanting It More, which helps married women with low libido, and, The Marriage Mastery Club.
This topic has actually been the focus for this month in the Marriage Mastery Club. I’ve framed it a little differently, but I want to help you get rid of resentment now. The dictionary definition of resentment, is bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly. So there is a component of a perceived injustice has taken place. It’s just not fair!
I have a belief that when resentment starts to creep up in your marriage, it means that there is a need that’s not being met. A lot of women tell me, “my husband’s needs are getting met completely, and mine aren’t.” That really comes from an unfortunate mentality in our culture, which is of scarcity; there’s always a winner, and there’s always a loser. I always try to teach people that there can be a win/win situation.
Resentment can come from the past, or it can be happening in the present. For example, in the past, perhaps maybe you decided that you wanted to do a certain career, but you felt like you were held back. Maybe you decided to stay at home with your kids, or maybe it was expected of you, and you feel resentment that things didn’t go as planned. The most popular example of present resentment is house work. You feel like you are doing way more than your share, you’re feeling resentful that you’re picking up after everybody, and you’re working late into the night. And, it’s no fun, right? No fun at all.
My solution to all this is kind of the high road. It’s not easy. It’s so much easier to just point the finger, and place blame, and stomp your feet, and have a tantrum. But, if you really want to get rid of resentment, this is the way to go.
I talked about how when there is resentment, it’s because one of your needs wasn’t getting met. Here’s the thing, we are all responsible for getting our own needs met, which is not really what we’re taught when it comes to marriage. We’re taught that when you get into a relationship, your spouse will “complete” you. That, now your spouses job is to make you happy, and that’s going to be the way it is.
You can kind of see how quickly that would build up resentment. Maybe your husband came into the game thinking, “This is great, my wife’s going to be my biggest supporter, and she’s going to be so excited that I want to buy a motor bike,” and, surprise, surprise, you think it’s too expensive, and a little dangerous, and he feels a ton of resentment over these years because you never supported him in that dream. So, the first step is recognizing that we have to take ownership of our own needs, and ownership for getting them met.
Not to mean that your spouse can’t be a supporter, an encourager, a cheerleader… but, at the end of the day, you are the one who is responsible for identifying your need and getting it met. So, that is the first step: taking ownership of getting your needs met.
The second step is figuring out what are your needs? That can be really challenging for women in particular. The first question you can ask yourself is, “Well, what do I feel resentment about?” If it’s about the house work, then you have a need for order, and tidiness, and maybe beauty in your environment. Or, maybe you want to go to church but your husband is not supporting you in that. You have a need to develop a relationship with God perhaps, or have a faith community – a need for connection. Ask yourself what you’re always on your spouse’s back about, and that is a great way to start working out what your needs are.
Step three, is you need to develop a good relationship with your needs. A lot of women find themselves looking for permission, and equal enthusiasm about their needs from their partner. For example, I have a need for beauty in my house. I started getting that need met in my shed office, but I started to realize that I wasn’t really enjoying being in my home, in my living room or kitchen, because I kept on waiting for my house to be equal, and for my husband to be equally enthusiastic about my need for beauty. It’s not his need. His need is adventure, and excitement, so he was putting his focus on camping equipment, and fixing up our trailer, and getting a truck to pull the trailer. Meanwhile, I wasn’t speaking up, because I had a complicated relationship with my need for beauty. I thought it might be too frivolous, or too girly or something. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered that I really need to do that, so now I am working on beautifying my living room. And, I think I’ve gotten to the point now, where I am so much happier. And, my husband was fine to go along with it, but he wasn’t as enthusiastic as I wanted him to be.
The last thing that we struggle with in terms of a relationship with our needs, is that we want our spouse to just read our minds, and figure out our needs on their own, without us identifying them, or telling them what they are, or even feeling comfortable with them ourselves. We want our husbands to meet those needs without any dialogue taking place. That really comes back to that princess mentality that we’re fed. I mean, how many Disney movies have this plot where there’s a helpless woman, and a knight in shining armour rides in, and saves the day, and knows exactly what she wants, and provides it for her without her having to ever say anything, or do anything? Well, it doesn’t work that way. I hope you understand that. And expecting it leads to a tremendous amount of resentment.
Here’s a little fun tidbit: men are actually really good at getting their needs met! I find a lot of times us women shame men for that. We shame them for playing video games with their friends, or for going on that camping trip they wanted to, or for playing sports. Maybe they go out and play soccer once a week and you’re like, “That’s not fair. I have resentment. Why am I at home?” but they’re actually just doing a really good job at assessing their needs, taking ownership of them, and getting them met. So, you can actually learn something from your husband, and start putting that into practice in your own life.
If you are like, “Okay, great. I’ve taken ownership of my needs, I’ve figured out what my needs are, I’ve kind of worked a little bit on my relationship with my needs, and seeing them as valuable, and important, and I’m feeling confident in that. Now, how do I ask him for what I need? I might want to go out once a week, I might want to go back to school, I might want to start spending money on something, I might want to learn the electric guitar and it’ll be loud, and what if he’s not okay with that?”
If you’re curious about how to talk to your husband to elicit a really good response, I actually did a free class called, “The Secrets of the Husband Brain.” And, now you can just download that yourself. It’s about an hour, and I really, really recommend. I’ve got a tremendous amount of good feedback saying it was really helpful. I really think that’ll help you a lot moving forward, and getting out of resentment. ‘Cause that’s what we’re trying to do here.
I want to end with a message I got from one of my clients yesterday, because it really shows how she took ownership of her needs. She wrote, “Today I whined a lot in my head. I felt very angry, and like a victim. I finally realized I needed to get out tonight, and that I need to make a daily break a priority (she’s got three kids). Usually I would call on my husband to discuss it, AKA get his permission, approval, acceptance. But today I called and told him I needed to leave when he got home. And when I left, he thanked me for letting him know my needs.”
Pretty cool right? I hope that inspires you to go ahead and do the same. Have a great week!