Stay-at-Home Mom with Resentment Towards Your Husband? Try This

One mom shares her ‘ah-ha!’ moment of uncovering resentment towards her husband, and, more importantly, what she did to overcome it.

Managing the demands of family life is unbalanced in this country, and most of the extra hours of unpaid labor fall primarily on women.

So, it seems obvious to say we – as mothers – are resentful. Believe it or not, I am carrying less resentment than ever – and you may be surprised at how I did it.

stay-at-home mom feeling overwhelmed with her baby on the couch

Why do I feel so much resentment towards my husband?

It all started with Brené Brown’s HBO special, Atlas of the Heart. Working through one emotion at a time, she finally arrived at resentment.

She clarified that resentment is part of the envy family and not the anger family as she had initially believed.

This shocked me, especially after all the injustices of our culture and the unfair emotional load right inside my home, I was seething on the inside. What could those feelings have to do with envy?

After fourteen years of motherhood, I still wear the Primary Caregiver (or Default Parent) badge for good or worse. In the beginning, when my partner returned to work, it seemed like he did so entirely unchanged.

The work starts within, not in fighting the envy, but looking at it with curiosity and asking ourselves, “what is this trying to tell me?”.

Out there in the world, he was needed for adult things, like conversations that had zero to do with ounces of milk or bodily fluids, and there were after-work commitments and even quiet bathroom trips.

And as I sat pinned down by sleeping baby after baby, that freedom looked mighty good, and I wanted some of it for me.

But instead, the isolation began to creep in, and I felt disconnected from my life’s work and friends. I missed my old body and exercise routines – even what I had forecasted motherhood to be like – which was not like this!

wife feeling resentful towards her husband on the couch

So yeah, Brené Brown, you got me. Yes, resentment is rooted in envy. I was jealous. 

My resentment was the loud rumbling that hid my jealousy. I pined for my partner’s freedom, endless choices, and ability to make money, and the rumination was so loud it was blocking out all the good feelings, too.

Once the din was quieted and only jealousy left, it felt a little better. Like more of a stark reality, I had to be a stay-at-home mom, and I was jealous that he got to go – it was that simple. And there was a way out because envy can help us identify exactly what we want.

How do stay-at-home moms (and working moms) not be resentful?

Maybe you’re jealous of your spouse’s ability to switch from baby mode to work mode easily, or perhaps it’s their clean and well-thought-out outfit of the day or the podcast they listen to uninterrupted on the train.

In moments of resentment, if you look within, can you find your needs that are being neglected and screaming for attention?

These unmet needs tell you precisely what self-care you require – like alone time or friend time, or ‘not thinking about anything’ time, and checking in the simplest way to be generous with yourself – instead of holding on and letting the resentment grow.

Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) famously said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

The work starts within, not in fighting the envy, but looking at it with curiosity and asking ourselves, “what is this trying to tell me?”.

husband consoling wife on the couch

Steps to take to stop resentment towards your husband

Of course, every article like this one will say, “look inside,” but not tell you how. But I will, and for me, it started with just noticing.

I noticed the jealousy under my resentment. I noticed when I was the most triggered. I saw when I had the “Nothing’s Changed for You!” thoughts.

If you notice your jealousy, you have more to work with and opportunities to offer yourself grace and self-compassion. So let’s notice more.

A simple way to add more “noticing” to your life is to habit stack. Yes, there are more complex ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life, but you have a newborn so let’s start simple here. 

Habit stacking takes a daily task (something you don’t skip), like that morning cup of coffee or going to the bathroom, and adds another habit to that task.

For example, maybe whenever you go to the bathroom (with the baby or not!), you check in on your thoughts – How is it going right now? What do you notice? If you see negative thoughts or resentful feelings, don’t judge; just notice.

And that’s it, and do it for a few weeks. 

mom smiling with her baby on the couch

Why noticing can counter resentment

A daily habit of noticing matters because:

  1. It offers you non-judgemental attention time to observe what you need under all that resentment, and;
  2. It establishes a baseline for pattern recognition.

Day after day, you will notice you’re exhausted, but sometimes – through all of the exhaustion – you will see things are going well.

And after just a few weeks of noticing, your loudest unmet needs will be uncovered, as well as which thoughts ruin your day – and then you get to choose: Do I focus on what isn’t going well? Or do I want to focus on what is enough?

This type of self-reflection is an intentional practice and a great form of self-care

Choosing to notice more of the good doesn’t mean you have to accept the 1.7 extra hours of unpaid labor you do at home, but it will improve your experience with your child and partner. And it will give you the strength needed to meet your needs. 

Final thoughts on resentment, your partner, and moving through it

Resentment is a barrier to gratitude. Incorporating “noticing” with a self-reflection practice established via habit stacking will help you to see the good. And I believe the more things we can find to be grateful for in our life right now, the easier it is to care for ourselves and offer compassion to our partners and kids.

This is the basis of self-love.

“Self-love is not selfish if it makes you better at loving other people,” says Dan Harris in his recent TED talk, and I think that couldn’t be more true. Your time with your child is extraordinary, but it’s not everything.

You are good at many things, and taking a moment to notice yourself can be one too.

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Stef Tousignant

Author + Blogger

Stef Tousignant is a parenting expert and gratitude nerd. She is a former professional nanny of 20+ years and the author of the award-winning bedtime book "The Middle of the Night Book." Burned-out parents everywhere rely on her mindfulness tools and honest blog posts found at ParentDifferently.com. She hopes to normalize imperfect parenting by sharing her journey and the gifts a committed gratitude practice can bring to modern family life.

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