5 ways to deal with a spouse who resents you

You can't determine how long it will take for your spouse to stop resenting you, but you can decide that you aren't going to let their gray skies ruin your peace of mind.

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  • One of the smartest things my husband ever did resulted in having a loaf of bread thrown at his head.

  • If you can handle an 18-slice whack to the noggin — you too can have wedded bliss. It was early on in our marriage. I was just discovering what it was like to come home at the end of a long day, anxious to reconnect with my sweetheart only to find that Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the entire crew of the Starship Enterprise were on a five-year mission — to steal his attention. In other words; if Star Trek was on, I was invisible and inaudible. I began to resent him for that and therefore spent a lot of time alone in our bedroom pouting.

  • Now I know that his reaction to my resentment was probably more lucky than it was deliberate, but nevertheless, there couldn't have been a more proper response to my sulking. He did nothing. Nada. My bad behavior went completely unrecognized. A year went by if a day, with this pattern of bad behavior when suddenly one night, I gave up. I threw in the towel or in this case... the loaf. After trying to ask him a question during the show and not getting as much as a grunt in reply, pure exasperation possessed me, and I grabbed the nearest non-lethal object and hurled it at his head. It was a loaf of bread.

  • BAM. It got his attention. Then I walked out of the room. I didn't care after that. My poor behavior had not been rewarded. Therefore I had no reason to continue. Had he ever responded to my little tantrums, I would have learned quite a different lesson and would have possibly become a rather manipulative little punk.

  • Since then, issues more critical than being a Star Trek widow have drawn both of us into deep valleys of resentment from time to time. Healthy ways to deal with being resented by your spouse have provided us with a way out.

  • Take responsibility for your own happiness

  • Go on... YOU can be happy, even if he is not. Keep doing what you enjoy doing. Make sure your spouse is lovingly invited to participate, but don't gauge the success or worth of the activity on his participation or approval because at first he probably won't. This mentality will eventually peak his curiosity, and soon it will become your spouse's idea to hang out with you and do what you are doing. For example, after I stopped perceiving Star Trek as the enemy, I started watching it with him and discovered it was a really good show, geekiness and all.

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  • Speak well of your spouse

  • The words you hear from your own mouth reinforce your beliefs. Right now you need to believe that this too shall pass. You need to keep believing your spouse is really a wonderful person who deserves the benefit of the doubt, even though at the moment he or she is unwilling to grant you the same courtesy. If your mouth keeps telling your brain that he is a loser, your heart will never know you still love them.

  • Pray for them

  • They are in a bad place. Resent means to re-feel. For reasons you may or may not be aware of your spouse has bad feelings for you stuck on playback mode. A higher power can not only help your spouse move on, but can also ensure you do not allow being resented to make you feel resentful as well.

  • Step back

  • Sometimes people just need time and space to work through feelings. Don't badger them with too many questions or time restraints. They created the chasm in which they are now confined, and it will likewise be they who need to create the ladder for escape. This ladder will need to be constructed in their own way and in their own time. (Step one comes in handy right about now.)

  • Let them shine

  • Help them come back into the light by finding something they excel at and let them shine. Be careful; if they excel at ironing your shirts or fixing the toilet, this may not be the kind of atta-boy attention they need right now. Remember, you are already a burden to them at the moment. Instead choose one of your spouse's fun talents and make that the focus of an afternoon or activity. Yes, even if it means you have to lose yet another round of golf to him.

  • As you may notice, almost all of these ideas are focused on protecting your feelings and ensuring your survival while being the object of resentment. There is little focus on trying to manipulate the other person's feelings or behavior. This is because trying to manipulate someone else's emotional journey is usually ill-advised. Stay positive and loving and eventually the rest will fall into place.

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Rosemary Jarman lives in Menomonie Wisconsin with her husband and children. She enjoys cycling, writing, travel and discovering new music.

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