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Resentment is a Signpost

Do you get angry or resentful if you see your husband relaxing on the couch when there’s so much to do? Do you begrudge him having time outside the home, away from the kids? Do you sometimes feel like he has it so much easier than you do?

Four years ago I found myself seething while vacuuming under my husband’s feet. It was 8.45pm and I was seven months pregnant with our third child. 

There he was, the man I fell head-over-heels in love with seven years before, resting on the couch…and I was still going. Still working. Still trying to get everything done. 

How could he rest?! Doesn’t he see me?’ I thought. ‘How can he think that it is okay to just sit there when he knows I find walking painful at this stage of pregnancy, never-mind vacuuming? Clearly he doesn’t love me or care about me’, I confirmed. 

I dreamed of my husband saying ‘let me do that…sit down, love. You deserve to rest…you’ve done enough’.

But the permission to rest never came.


It was not easy to admit that I was holding resentment in my heart. But I firmly believe I would still be stuck in this old dance - still feeling resentful - if I hadn’t admitted the truth about how I was feeling in the first place.

The process of becoming changed begins with awareness. Awareness, acceptance and change - that is the cycle.” - Melody Beattie

Once I allowed myself to see that I felt resentful, I was able to detach a little from my emotions and calmly assess the situation. What was my husband doing that made me so mad? He was resting. He was resting when I could see so much that needed to be done. 

But. My husband was doing nothing wrong resting on the couch at 8.45pm that night. He had often said he’d prefer me to stop working in the house and just relax in the evening. With my perfectionist mindset, though, I couldn’t stop until it was all done and I would get frustrated that he wouldn’t jump up and help me. 

I was of the opinion that we should keep going until a certain level of excellence was attained. Until enough was done. 

But truly, when is it actually enough

If I was to be honest with myself, there was no point of arrival that I would have called enough. 

It took a lot of pain and a whole lot more resentment before I was willing to see that my expectations were not attainable without it costing me. And what was it costing me? My mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health - as well as the emotional intimacy in my marriage. It was never going to be enough.

It slowly dawned on me that it was not permission from my husband to rest that I needed. It was permission from myself.

I needed to give myself permission for enough to be enough. I needed the humility to learn from my husband. He had the ability to look around and see things undone and sit and rest anyway

Rather than resent him, I needed to follow his example. Taking rest when we are tired would be following the prompts of grace. Pushing past our limits and ignoring our needs leads to resentment. 

I would so often shut out the prompts to rest in favour of being a martyr. And it costs me more than I am willing to pay.

Does it matter to the state of my soul whether my floors are vacuumed or the kitchen is spotless or the windows are gleaming? No. Does it matter to my sanity, my health - and to the tone of the home I have made with my husband - that I pay attention to my limits and rest each and every day? Yes.

These days, if I feel resentment building for any reason I know that it points to a need I have that is going unmet. That may be rest. It may be connection. It may be support. It may be fun. It may be solitude. It may be all of the above.

Resentment is a signpost. A very useful one.

Do you give yourself permission to rest? Do you know that God, in His wisdom, commands us to rest? Do you know that Our Lord Jesus, during His earthly life, led by example in this regard and not only rested Himself but supported His disciples in getting rest?

And He said to them: Come apart into a desert place, and rest a little. For there were many coming and going: and they had not so much time to eat” - Mark 6:31 

And when He had dismissed them, He went up to the mountain to pray” - Mark 6:46

And He retired into the desert, and prayed” - Luke 5:16

In His wisdom Our Heavenly Father knows that rest makes us better, kinder, gentler, more peaceful, more patient. Rest is where we get the chance to hear Him speak to us. Rest allows us to return to our duties with a heart full of love; a heart full of Him.

It is such a folly to pass one’s time fretting instead of resting quietly on the heart of Jesus” - Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

We have permission from God to rest. We just have to let ourselves do so.

Acknowledge where you feel resentment. Use it as a signpost. How do you feel? What do you need? How can you get that for yourself?

Are you tired and overworked? You may need rest. 

Are you touched out or over-stimulated? You may require quiet solitude. 

Are you lonely? You may need true connection with God, with yourself, with your husband or with a good friend.

Are you feeling stuck? You may desire fun.

Are you drained and depleted? Perhaps you desire some care-free time; a break from some of life’s responsibilities so that you can come back to them rejuvenated.

If we are waiting for others to give us permission for what we need, or for them to provide it for us, we are playing the victim. 

Thinking ‘doesn’t he see me?’ and waiting for my husband to tell me to rest is being a victim. I am responsible for myself. If I am over-worked, it is me that has allowed myself to get there. I can learn to say no. I can learn to let go. I can learn to simplify. I can learn to ask for - and accept - help. I can learn what my limits are and pay attention to those on a daily basis. I can learn to rest throughout my day as I need it. Being responsible for myself in this way means I show up pleasant, happy, patient, calm and more like the person I want to be. 

It is our responsibility to take care of ourselves. That is what self-care is: paying attention to how we feel and what it is we need. Then making it happen, as best we can. 

It takes practice. It occasionally takes support from others. It takes work sometimes. But it is our responsibility.

Resentment is a signpost. Acknowledge it. Accept it. It can serve to be an amazingly helpful launchpad on the road to replenishing self-care.

Take care of you. And Let Truth Bloom.

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