Facing Resentment So You Can Experience Intimacy
The other night, my husband and I were sitting on the couch watching a movie (his choice: You’ve Got Mail. I married a good man.). Even though everything seemed fine on the outside, I felt an inward disconnect between us.
So I turned to him and asked if anything was wrong, wondering if he felt the same. He said “not really,” and shrugged it off.
His breezy answer didn’t satisfy me, and eventually, because of his lack of effort to help me figure out the issue, I became frustrated. I felt like I was alone, like I was the only one who cared about the health of our marriage. (Did I mention I was 28 weeks pregnant? That may have had something to do with my heightened emotion.)
We went to bed feeling even more disconnected and frustrated than we had been.
The next morning I woke up and waited for him to bring up the previous nights’ conversation. I was testing him—a totally unhealthy and unfair wife move—to see if he cared about mending the wound as much as I did.
Once he brought it up, I began to realize the source of our disconnection. It wasn’t his problem at all. It was mine.
Earlier the day before, he had tricked me into telling him one of his Father’s Day surprises. It was totally innocent, his own attempt to be playful and funny. At the time I stomped my foot and rolled my eyes and said, “Whatever! It’s your day!” It sounded equally playful on my end, and I almost believed it was, but there was a bigger part of me that felt hurt and I couldn’t put a pin on why. It felt silly to be upset, so I pushed it aside.
But in my heart, there was this faint and nagging feeling of betrayal that I couldn’t shake.
See, I love special occasions and holidays. I put a lot of thought and intention into making people feel celebrated on a day that’s meant to honor them. To have my elaborate plans so casually foiled hurt me more than I wanted to admit.
And that morning, as I told him how his trickery hurt me, I was surprised by the volume of my tears. I felt so vulnerable and childish, like a little girl crying because she found out she couldn’t have a pony at her sixth birthday party.
I realized something important as I confessed my hurt: it’s much easier to shift the focus off myself when I’m hurting. It’s easier to blame the other person, or even take my hurt out through a situation that feels more deserving of my anger than the seemingly petty one that ignited me in the first place.
But ultimately, the route to true intimacy, unity, and reconciliation in marriage is vulnerability and honesty—sometimes humiliatingly so—or else we’ll always be aiming our arrows at every target except the true issue. Intimacy grows by humbly and authentically sharing our own messy humanity with our husbands.
A friend once told me that each time we’re hurt by our spouse but refuse to address it honestly, we’re putting a block of resentment between us. Those blocks can quickly turn into a brick wall—one that interrupts our intimacy, trust and harmony.
It felt silly to admit I was hurt by my husband’s innocent trick. But it would have been sillier to let that small interaction become a brick of resentment that would be much harder to break down later.
Dear wives, let’s address our resentment brick by brick, keeping our burdens light and our words gentle. It’ll be much more freeing and manageable than trying to break down a huge wall months or years down the road. Our husbands would much prefer our tender and humble tears in the moment over a resentment-fueled fire erupting later on.
- Identify a specific time you felt hurt or offended by your husband.
- How did you respond? Did you address it directly with harsh words or helpful ones? Or, instead of addressing it, did you push the issue aside and let it subtly fester?
- If the issue is unresolved, bring your hurt to Jesus and ask him to reveal any areas of your heart in which you desire healing. Ask him to remove your resentment and replace it with a heart for reconciliation.
- Ask God to help you discern how and when to talk to your husband–not to blame or shame him, but to humbly let him know how it made you feel and that you want to get rid of any resentment building between you two. Make sure he knows you’ve forgiven and released him. And next time, hopefully you’ll be able to identify your hurt in the moment and share it with him even sooner.
Bailey Richardson is the wife of a Paul Bunyan look-a-like, the mama of a growing little family, and a woman on the wild adventure of pursuing Jesus. She lives in a small lake town in Minnesota where her family is highly involved in their local church and Young Life, a global non-profit youth ministry. A self-proclaimed “recovering perfectionist,” Bailey loves writing for and connecting with women who want to more deeply experience the grace, freedom, and abundance that comes from following Jesus. You can find her at baileymrichardson.com or on Instagram @baileymrichardson.