Since the birth of our daughter, Grace, seven months ago, my husband’s life has changed very little. Jon still goes to bed and gets up for work at the same times. He still comes home each night, sits down in the Lazyboy with the dogs and has a drink, after which he nods off to the sounds of the television. He doesn’t get up in the middle of the night to do pacifier checks, or get up (before Grace slept through the night) to feed her a bottle. His life is almost totally the same as it was before Grace came along.
Now before you go and get the wrong idea of what husband is like, you should know that he changes diapers. He feeds Grace on Saturday mornings so I can sleep in. He helps me out and makes sure my needs are met (like a shower, for example). He is thoughtful and considerate and sympathetic. I agreed from the beginning that I would get up with Grace in the middle of the night so that he could sleep and be rested for work. I agreed to leave my job so that I could take care of Grace full time.
But on the days when Grace won’t go down for a nap no matter how tired I know she is, and Porkchop is chewing on everything he can get his teeth on no matter how many times I chide him, and Bacon keeps eating Porkchop’s puppy food no matter how many times I’ve told him not to…I find myself resenting the way my husband’s life hasn’t changed much.
Almost every aspect of my life has been flipped on end since May. I no longer have nearly as many adult conversations or use my brain to work out problems like I did as a pharmacy technician. I no longer get to sleep through the night uninterrupted. I no longer get to eat whatever I’d like. I no longer get to go wherever I want whenever I want. My whole world revolves around Grace. Jon’s still revolves around his job and regular routine.
He doesn’t have to breastfeed. He didn’t gain fifteen pounds from the pregnancy. He doesn’t have to juggle the needs and behaviors of a puppy, a dog, and an infant all day. He can go to bed whenever he wants when he gets tired.
On the difficult days when I’m at my wit’s end, I find myself comparing what I have to balance every day with what he has to accomplish at work. And usually I come to the conclusion that what I have to deal with is worse than what he has to deal with. I find myself resenting him for the freedoms he has that I no longer do. And on those difficult days, that resentment festers and turns into something ugly and acidic that bubbles just under the surface of my introverted, non-confrontational mind. I can feel myself staring daggers at my husband from behind tired eyes as he pours himself a drink and says he had an okay day.
But there are days when he comes home and I see that his eyes are tired too. I see his frustration and exhaustion. I see how hard he works to support our family. He has bad days too. There are days when he would switch places with me in a heartbeat. And though he denies it, I know that he feels some level of pressure being the only one who provides an income.
And I know there are moments when he looks at the relationship I have with Grace and wishes he had that kind of closeness with her. He is proud of me for knowing her as well as I do. I know he wishes he could have more time with her than a few hours each night when she isn’t napping and he isn’t asleep.
It isn’t his fault that he’s a man and can’t breastfeed. It isn’t his fault that I put on a few pounds and hate exercising them off. It isn’t his fault that Grace is fussy or that Porkchop and Bacon are frustrating. It isn’t his fault that he needs to be well-rested in order to do his job well.
Resentment can only breed more heinous things. I don’t want to look back five years from now on a marriage that has become rife with deep-seated bitterness. I don’t want Grace to grow up with a similar attitude that her daddy doesn’t work nearly as hard at work as mommy does at home. I don’t want her to think it’s her fault that I take out my frustrations on her father. I don’t want my husband to come home to an embittered wife who is not happy to see him.
My toxic attitude stems from resentment that will only do damage to my marriage and to my family. On the bad days, I need to catch myself falling into the resentment pit and change my attitude to one of thanksgiving. When Grace won’t go down for a nap, I need to be thankful that I get to spend more time with her. When Porkchop and Bacon get on my nerves, I need to be thankful that Grace will grow up with a healthy love of animals. When I have to get up at night to do a pacifier check, I need to be thankful that she has slept for whatever length she has, and be thankful that each time she wakes up, it means she is alive. When I would rather switch places with Jon, I need to be thankful that he has a job good enough to enable me to stay at home and raise my own child. When I feel like resenting my husband, I need to stop comparing our very different jobs, and just love him, and remember that he has bad days too.
So if you, like me, feel that resentment monster creeping in to sabotage the things you hold most dear, I hope you will do your best to stop right there and willingly replace those feelings of resentment with factual thankfulness. Being that intentional will make you happier and make your marriage be the kind that your kids hope to have one day. It isn’t easy to choose to be thankful instead of resentful, but there is always something to be thankful for in every situation. As it says in Thessalonians 5:18, “be thankful in all circumstances.”