In the spring of 2020, I found myself in a familiar place I didn’t want to be in—a place of anger and resentment toward my husband. Simply typing those words makes me feel the heaviness of that time period. So, I know if you are currently feeling resentment toward your spouse, you are feeling the heaviness too.
There have been two times in my marriage that I had so much resentment toward my husband. I have helped myself get off the resentful wife merry-go-round each time, which took clearly communicating my resentments and feelings to him. Most recently, the method of communication I used was emailing my husband a two-page document of resentments during my recovery from postpartum depression (PPD).
For my recovery, I focused on re-prioritizing my self-confidence, happiness and marriage. I knew that was the first step in healing as I learned years ago focusing on myself helped create a better version of me, which positively impacted my marriage.
Why I decided to write down my resentments toward my husband
As part of the task of working on my own happiness, I knew I had to address the built-up resentment I had toward my husband.
I knew if I tried to tell all my feelings to Doll in one conversation, I would forget certain points I wanted to make. That meant we wouldn’t solve anything because we couldn’t address everything. I knew I needed to share everything in my mind and on my heart—so I decided to type it out.
What type of resentments I included
I created a list of bullet points in a Word document and began unleashing my feelings. I wrote down the things that were bothering me or that I was holding onto. And, I didn’t just write them, I explained myself in them.
The types of resentments I included varied in severity. Some were deeply rooted thoughts that I didn’t even realize I had until I began to write them. Others were more surface level. However, nothing was off limits.
A few days later, I came back to my Word document. As I re-read my notes, I made adjustments and elaborated where necessary. The purpose of this was to get every feeling or thought down on paper. So, I wanted to make sure I didn’t leave any thought out.
Understanding the causes of my resentment toward my husband
I had two pages of resentments in a Word document when I was finished writing. Each was a unique reason for which I felt hurt, misunderstood or frustrated with my husband. I then realized every single bullet point could be traced back to one of two themes: I felt like he wasn’t there for me during the PPD, and I felt like he gave me less attention since Poppy was born.
Those were the causes of my resentment toward my husband. As such, those resentments were the culprits for all of my negative feelings and feisty reactions to him. This was my truth, and I couldn’t change it. I needed to share it with my spouse.
Understanding how I had so much resentment toward my spouse
I couldn’t believe I had two pages worth of negative thoughts and feelings about my husband. It was disappointing that I had allowed myself to not address these sooner. This much resentment wasn’t something I wouldn’t have previously allowed myself to hold onto. However, I then considered why I hadn’t brought these up before—Poppy!
With Poppy, it’s hard to have important conversations because there’s not always time during the day. By the time she goes to bed, we’re tired and don’t always feel up to have big conversations.
I understood why I let these things go undiscussed, but that only allowed them to snowball. So, I made a mental note to begin sharing my feelings promptly again.
Emailing my list of resentments to my husband
I rephrased some of the language that was a little too emotional before sending my email to my husband. (Although, I also left some emotional content.) My purpose was to explain my feelings, not hurt his.
I even considered omitting a couple of my resentments because they felt quite harsh, and I didn’t think they were the “make it or break it” type of thing I had to share. However, not sharing them wouldn’t mean they’d disappear. I knew if I didn’t send all my thoughts to my husband, I would still think about them. So, I chose to not omit a single resentment for the sake of sharing my full truth.
Discussing my resentments with my spouse
My husband read my email after dinner while I emptied the dishwasher. When he was done, he said, “Okay, I’m finished reading it.” I said, “Okay, you don’t have to respond now. We can just hang out, and you can think about it, or you can share any thoughts you have now.”
He walked over, hugged me and acknowledged my greatest resentment toward him—that he wasn’t there for me during my PPD. He agreed that he wasn’t as present and supportive as he should have been during my depression, and that’s what I needed to know and hear.
We also talked through a few specific resentments on the list that were hot points for me. Finally, I felt understood, and I could truly forgive him and let that resentment go.
I told him I wanted to read through the list together one by one that upcoming weekend. When the weekend came, I didn’t feel like discussing these feelings again because I felt like I’d already said what I needed to say and that we’d already addressed the necessary issues.
Letting go of the resentments in my marriage
Feeling like my husband heard and understood me was a big step toward completely resolving my feelings of resentment. Looking back, we should have discussed each bullet the next weekend as we had planned. As the weeks went on, some of my resentful feelings returned because I felt like Doll hadn’t made certain changes we talked about.
I continued to share my feelings, speak my truth and prioritize my happiness and mental health. It took some more time and I even considered separation, but we found our way back to our happy, playful marriage.