Email Questions: Resentment, Postpartum Depression, & Happiness?

I received an email from a reader after writing the post containing my short notes on Sofia Tolstoy and her diary, expressing her conviction she felt when reading how she acted.

I read your post in my email the other day and felt like you were a fly on our wall.  I don’t want to feel angry at my husband for the little things in life, or be in what you called, “chronic unhappiness.”  You hit the nail on the head when you talked about someone wanting to play the victim.  I think part of why I feel so much resentment toward everyone in our house is because it’s harder to choose joy when things aren’t going as planned.  It feels good to complain and get sympathy, even though I don’t want to complain about my husband.  I think it can be an addiction because they give you attention if you have something to complain about, which then makes you feel good and you repeat the cycle.

It’s gotten to the point where he doesn’t even want to hear my complaints anymore, and we fight more than ever.  I’m always the killjoy, and I end up going into a rage at our kids.  

I know I’m hurting our family, but how can I stop this?  How can I be more joyful?

I already emailed back asking questions and such, but I thought this was a good starting point for a public discussion since maybe other women thought the same way but didn’t want to write in.  I think… and this really is just my opinion based on what has worked for me in my own life… that the real answer to this would be twofold: humility and gratitude.  I know that sounds so simple, but it is just profoundly true in almost every case.  Even if everything and nothing is working out, one can always choose to be grateful for something positive.

If your husband is basically a good man, a hard worker, etc. why not just choose to be grateful for each and every good thing in your life?  In other words, why allow yourself to dwell on resentful feelings?  Even if he tends toward being angry and grouchy (I’ve seen couples like this), you can still find your own happiness and joy in life that can positively affect your children.  Dennis Prager loves to say that unhappy people often find a happy person to latch themselves on to, and then they make them pretty miserable.  It’s best for happy people to marry other happy people, but because people are human and make BIG mistakes, that doesn’t always happen.  And unhappy people are usually smart enough not to marry another unhappy person lol.

I married another generally happy person, he’s easy to please and has the best demeanor I could have asked for.  Certain situations can make him more broody or annoyed, especially when tired or if our kids are really acting up, but personally I love he has an edge or, “dark,” side… it makes for more flirtation ❤

But if you married a man who is chronically unhappy, we’re not in the day and age where couples were kept carefully away from each other due to purity preservation, so there’s a big chance you saw the red flags but pursued them anyway.  Own your choice and try to make the best of it, knowing it may be harder.  I’m not saying it sounds easy, it looks like the cross someone may have to bear for life, but hopefully this helps with the question of, “well, what if my spouse just isn’t a happy person?”  To a large degree, you can still control your own happiness, something Stingray always brought up at her blog.

I bring this up because the reader pointed out that Leo Tolstoy sounded like a hard man to live with as an excuse to why Sofia was so crazy.  I don’t know what came first, the chicken or the egg!  Was he difficult because she was so awful to him from the get-go?  Would he not have been kinder to a more pleasant and simply happier wife?  Remember, he came to her open-hearted, with love and humility in wanting her to accept him as he was, sins and all, and then she chose to use his sexual past as a perpetual stick to beat him with!  I’ve seen men like that, who started out happy, and are happy around everyone else, but when around their wives they turn bitter, angry and hurtful in their comments… and the horrible thing is that those women often brought all that on themselves starting from very early on in their marriage.  It really is a thing, that you can destroy your husband’s love for you.

Sooner or later,

everyone will sit down to a banquet

of their own consequences.

***

And I should say that it’s important to understand feeling negative emotions is ok – it’s natural and normal and you can say to yourself, “Ok, I feel hurt/angry/upset/resentful/envious, but then work through those feelings and get to the bottom of why you’re feeling a certain way.  Ultimately, I believe one works through those feelings with God healing them over time, I don’t think there are any, “quick fixes,” to heart issues that have invaded one’s character to become who they are now.  And that’s what I think happens… negative emotions CAN become addicting, and if you continually give in to them, let them have their way dictating how you behave, then you allow them to shape your character.

Why Humility?

Because when you’re humble, you’re more gracious and understand no one deserves anything in life ❤ everything is a gift, and when you see things that way, everything about you changes.

Resentment can easily happen when a wife starts to feel self-righteous and more Christian in comparison with her husband.  It’s ironic because resentment toward someone else only shows that we have a problem in our *own* hearts, and really has very little to do with our husband.  In other words, resentment is the first sign that we’re NOT doing well spiritually, that we have a problem that only we can address.  But the only way someone will admit this to themselves is if they have humility.  Humility takes the focus off of the other person, and places it on what we can do to make things better, because it forces us to look at ourselves realistically, resentment included.

Sofia Tolstoy, for all her claiming she was a self-sacrificing Christian, didn’t have the humility to admit she was spiritually messed up!  Humility accepts a person’s imperfections or, “humanness,” as I’d call it – it allows a person to be grouchy or make mistakes and can handle it in a loving way.  And yes I’ve walked this walk, so I know it can be done 🙂 .  I’ve also failed at it with other people because I’m human.  Approaching your marriage with humility does a lot in the way of receiving back kindness and love in thanks for your being gracious and loving toward your husband.

This kind of self-righteousness stemming from resentment is especially true in women who play the martyr of the family, though.  The reader was right that it does feel good in a way to have people pity you, or pay attention to you when you are sick/ill/depressed, etc.  Wanting a pity party can be a daily or weekly addiction though.  There are some women out there who live for when they’re sick, because they like the attention it brings from their husband or children – that isn’t healthy!  It’s probably a mental illness to seek out being a victim just to receive attention.

However, if you have real grief over something valid, having what looks like a pity party where friends or family listen to you and support you through your grief is totally normal.  I know there are people out there who like to claim women like me don’t allow women to feel negative emotions or grieve properly, etc. but I’ve never advised that.  What I do promote is women doing what I do, and taking responsibility for their own health and happiness in life, and not staying in a victim mentality or depressive state.  Simply because you won’t heal that way, and no one wins.

I don’t believe depression is sinful or anything like that, but allowing yourself to stay there, especially for months (or decades in Sofia Tolstoy’s case), starts to become a choice, and actions (choosing not to get help for the sake of at least your children) have consequences you may not intend.  The reader also asked if I’ve ever felt like this, or felt depressed for long periods of time, and yes, I definitely have unfortunately experienced scary level depression a couple of times.

The one I’ll focus on just because it makes more sense with motherhood and being a wife and such, was when we had our firstborn.  It was a scary situation with our son coming a month early due to the work-related stress we were under.  We worked together for an apartment complex and our boss was very clear she wanted a different couple, which was totally her choice, but it left us feeling VERY worried we’d lose our job and apartment since the job came with a free apartment.  We were young so I admit this wasn’t the best or wisest set up – we should have stepped down when we realized she wanted a couple with more time.  But instead we stayed and just tried harder, going far above and beyond to try to keep her happy, something that wasn’t possible lol, and this, at least, is what my doctor believed may have caused my amniotic sac to start leaking fluid into my body.  It took a few days in the hospital for the doctors to figure out what was wrong and to start and stop induction, and it finally culminated in an emergency c-section.  It was a stressful time, and our son stayed in NICU for a short week, but even with all that, I felt positive and was settling in to motherhood as best I could.

A couple of months after I had our son, one of my husband’s relatives began harassing him through angry text messages for hours upon hours on one of his off-days when we were out spending time together with the baby.  It was about something minuscule and out of the blue, but it felt like a deluge of rage and anger poured out on us and we couldn’t believe it was happening.  We weren’t even getting any sleep at night, and we were about to start a full schedule of college again, and still working for our demanding boss (there was no maternity break), so to say we were even more stressed to be on the receiving end of her angry tirades all day is an understatement.  Looking back in hindsight, I see us being so naive and young, in our early twenties, and can’t believe a woman who was almost 50 was allowing herself to harass us for hours on end when we had a newborn to take care of.

It’s interesting how negative emotions are contagious, even though my husband was forced to set boundaries with his relative, it still affected both of us for awhile… and for me, knowing this relative had played the victim to the rest of his family and gotten more relatives angry at us for my husband setting boundaries with her, I think caused me to slip into what became postpartum depression.

Why Gratitude?

The postpartum depression was unlike anything I’ve ever felt in my life.  And thank God, I’ve never experienced it with any of our other babies, which leads me to believe this one extremely hurtful and emotional event probably caused it somehow.  I’m a naturally optimistic and happy person, but it was the worst timing to be harassed for hours a day with angry, hurtful words when my hormones were still very out of whack.  The depression lasted for months and was overwhelming and very very dark.  It felt as if the sky was always, “gray,” so to speak.  The only thing, and I mean the ONLY thing that caused me to snap out of it was my husband confronting me when I was in a super negative self-pity mode (months later).  Somewhere in that timeframe, I had become settled into depression and complaining and only focusing on the bad things in the not so distant past… all the time.  He finally had enough, and was able to make me, “see,” and acknowledge all the good things that were still happening, and how even in a horrible situation, God took such great care with us and provided for us continually.  And it was true!!!  We ended up losing our apartment job (and our apartment), which was inevitable, and having to move with an infant, having to drop several college classes even though it was my last semester before graduating, which meant I’d have to postpone graduation (this felt like such a big deal at the time lol), and was too much for me psychologically.  I would go into this, “Woe is me,” drama when we were already well past it, and it thankfully came to a point where he just wouldn’t have it.

Everything was so bleak in my depressive state, I couldn’t see ANY goodness that had already come out of it, or God’s hand in it until my husband got me to stop wallowing in self-pity and to open my eyes.  And once he did open my eyes to all the goodness I wasn’t seeing, I was able to see that through it all, everything had worked out perfectly.  We were able to afford an apartment that was a two-story town-home with more room for the new baby, and closer to my husband’s job and to our school!  It felt like a beautiful little house and suddenly, after being snapped out of the self-pity mode, I enjoyed decorating it with our pictures.  We no longer worked for a woman who was so hard to please and who constantly held the threat of firing us over our heads 😀 and dropping some of the courses allowed me more time to bond with our baby.  It was almost as though we needed to go through those trials so that we could come to a place of peace and rest.

Gratitude was the cure, as well as being forced to admit I was acting ridiculous by still focusing on the terrible things lonnnng after they’d passed and God had already delivered us.  I wouldn’t have come to that place without him confronting and correcting my attitude of resentment and depression toward all that had happened.

Being consciously grateful for how God got us through those trials, how He was able to keep our marriage strong and together, gave me inspiration to live with happiness and joy.  I knew what it was like to feel depressed and anxious and not see anything good, and choosing to be thankful felt a million times more healthy and beneficial to everyone in our house!  Just being a thankful person makes one a joyful person… it’s mysterious in that way.

So to wrap this response up, I believe that no matter our circumstances, when we are Christian we are able to overcome things like depression, anxiety, loss of purpose, or resentment.

If you’re ever tempted to complain about your husband, when you know he’s really a great man and good father, try checking if your heart is coming from a place of humility first, and then gratitude for everything that IS going right.  I believe it will make a world of difference for you.

Why Marriage Groups Can Turn into “Let’s Rag on My Husband’s Flaws Publicly”

When writing the Proverbs 31 woman study series and book, I was blown away by how wonderful and inspiring this ancient archetype’s love for her husband is described.  Each tiny verse gave way to pages and pages of studying all over the Bible – we found verses that coincided with the words and meanings to give us a much richer, deeper view of the tapestry of her life and actions.  I’ve honestly never studied something so fascinating and relatable to my life right now, what I’m trying to be and do for our family.  The women who were studying along with it who gave me valuable feedback experienced those same feelings as well.

Again… it is mind-blowing how deep this tiny passage of scriptures goes when it comes to how women (Christian women) should be loving our husbands.  It is so clear that this model is what we’re supposed to be living up to, even though I believe it takes time and maturity, as well as maintaining a close relationship with God so that the power of the Holy Spirit directs you in the way you should go.

But make no mistake, there is a reason why the Bible describes this kind of wife as a rare treasure.  It’s just not common at all to develop your wifely-ness (is that a word?) to that degree!  And when you try, you’re labeled a hypocrite, Pharisee for holding other women up to a standard people will say YOU can’t keep, a “shill,” and be extremely harshly criticized for even daring to talk about a woman’s journey to be more virtuous.

The harsh criticism doesn’t matter, ultimately you will be creating a marriage that is heavenly in experience, and achieving a degree of excellence in how you love your husband that affects people in real life. ❤  In fact, one of the best chapters that dove into truly explaining the depth of your heart toward your husband, in all things, was chapter 4, “His Wife is Overflowing with Goodness.”  In that chapter, it was revealed to me through my husband’s and God’s direction, that the Greek work for “goodness” in the Bible, which is “Agathosune,” literally means, “virtue equipped at every point.”  

It is not the kind of “goodness” described in the English language, I found out.  It is a MUCH deeper, much more like Jesus kind of “goodness.”  Agathosune is described as aggressive goodness, but when applied to our husbands, it must be tempered with submission to his will, and gentleness, and huge doses of respect and adoration for him as your husband.  But an example of agathosune in other relationships (not authority/submission relationships), is that it calls others out on their sin and destructive ways.  It is the very “goodness” Jesus displayed when he overthrew the tables of the merchants in the Temple, and chased them out with a whip, whipping their backs as they rushed out in terror.  I found when writing this chapter back then, that there is no English equivalent to describe that kind of virtue.

***

Now, all that said, the reason for writing this post came from remembering my time in different marriage groups – both in person and through online groups where only the wives were present.  I’ll never forget our first experience in a marriage group.  It was only 2 weeks after our wedding (4 weeks after our secret marriage where we did it in court), and there we were with our fresh, baby faces so excited to meet other couples who wanted to pursue God in their marriages and learn to love each other better.

But that’s not at all what we found in that church marriage group.

We sadly saw tons of conflict, negative remarks the wives would make about their husbands – with him sitting right there!!!!  And husbands making cutting remarks back in defense because she just humiliated him in front of practical strangers!  Lord have mercy it was eye-opening and depressing.  We were so naive… and even though I’d spent YEARS listening to Dr. Laura’s awful female callers berate their husbands (and she slam them with hard, cold truth 😀 ) I actually believed that Christian women would somehow know better.

But they don’t 😦  At least not yet.  That’s why in large part, I started this blog to reach out to friends and family who had never heard or realized you create the marriage you want.

BETRAYAL that Regularly Happens in Marriage Groups:

  • An attitude that displays your open disrespect for your husband.  I’ve seen women just freely talk about their husbands’ flaws and bad habits.
  • Using negative words to describe your husband’s character to other women in the group (or men if it’s co-ed like many church marriage groups are).  Words like “selfish,” “unkind,” “lazy,” “fat,” are not words you should use when describing your husband to other people – it’s just obviously not respectful of him.  I’ve seen Christian women do this very easily, and then agree with other wives (who gladly chime in to point out his failings) that their husbands are “selfish,” or “lazy.” One good example of this was when a wife was complaining to the group of 100’s of women online, that her husband loved to sleep late especially when on vacation with their family.  When he would allow her to sleep in, he’d feel tired later on, and she’d feel guilty for even asking him.  I watched other wives immediately chime in with remarks that their EX-husbands used to mistreat them like that, and that he was lazy and being selfish and not a good father!  Something like this probably shouldn’t be talked about in a group setting. There are so many ways to better deal with things like that, rather than allowing other wives, of all things, to persuade you that your husband is “mis-treating you” with his “selfishness.”  What if it’s not really selfishness?  What if it’s a misunderstanding and he’s just not aware of what you need or want?  What if he’s ok with feeling a little more tired if it means he was kind to you in allowing you to sleep in once a week?  Surely there can be a compromise between you two, without destroying his reputation among other people who don’t know him (or you).  Even if something IS selfishness on his part, what good is going to come from letting a group or even 100’s of women online, know you think so little of him and his character?  Just unwise… all around.
  • Talking about your husband’s bad habits… not protecting his reputation from people or strangers.  Giving away free negative information about your husband to perfect strangers online is kind of the definition of foolishness.  There are ALL kinds of verses that talk about the Fool – speaking too soon before they have all the information necessary (slander), using specific proverbs like a drunk person (talking out of place and misapplying Bible verses), not seeing danger ahead and taking cover, but instead plunging right into it.  It would stink to be the husband of a foolish wife who regularly betrays him by talking too much about his failings.  If there’s anything the Proverbs 31 wife would never do, it’s paint her husband in a negative light.  Protecting his reputation and character is one of her basic priorities and a huge part of loving him and being good to him.  Remember, he has an important position in society and sits at the city gates (and praises her ❤ so romantic)!  How does the foolish wife return the favor of a husband who praises her in public?  By revealing his secrets and struggles to people in marriage groups or through their blogs/social media accounts.

 

Bottom line, I think marriage groups can be great and foster wonderful, life-long friendships even, but through our 10 years of being almost always a part of one (or multiple if you count the online groups I’ve been in), the chances of betrayal are WAY higher in groups like this unless they are moderated very well (and sometimes harshly in putting an end to a wife discussing things that should be worked out between only her and her husband).

THE GOLDEN RULE:

DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU’D HAVE OTHERS DO UNTO YOU

*

If you want someone to treat you with respect (or protect your reputation), maybe you should consider how you treat others first.  I believe that observing that one rule is what leads to true humility, and honoring others as better than yourself.  Also, be slow to speak, and quick to listen.  And when it comes to your husband, the man you’ve made vows to and are supposed to adore, being good to him, also means protecting him and his reputation (it’s virtue equipped at every opportunity, remember?).

So join in positive marriage groups, but don’t use them foolishly.  Be a good wife to your husband, and protect him always.

Stephanie

 

Is He Really Sexually Satisfied?

I write to women on this topic because we are the ones who so often are the “gate-keepers” when it comes to sex.  A healthy marriage has a healthy sex life.  But what exactly does a “healthy sex life” mean?  How do we know if ours is healthy?  This is not meant to be a comparison article of who does what or how often, but more focused on the point of how we can be sure that we are having the best sex in our marriage.  And since this is written to wives, I want to know… are your husbands sexually satisfied?

It’s a loaded question, one that I wonder if many women dare to even ask their husbands, and one that entitled, spoiled women will never have the gall to ask their husbands.

We have an obligation, a responsibility if you will, as the “gate keepers,” to make sure our husbands are sexually satisfied, and take responsibility for our own sexuality to make sure that we are, as well.  A healthy marriage has a healthy sex life.  And a healthy sex life requires a great amount of honest and open communication.

A blogger I truly admire, Dan, at Frankly Speaking, has allowed me to present to you his work & thoughts on why and how we should feel concerned with this topic if we truly value our marriage and our spouse.  He has written an entire series on why “Duty Sex” (mediocre sex that is given just for the purpose of checking off that box) isn’t truly satisfying, and leaves us and our husbands desiring more fulfillment.  He also has compiled a list of some great candid questions that a wife (or husband) can ask in order to really make sure our husbands are sexually satisfied.

My husband and I took time out last night after he got home from his work to go through Dan’s questions, most of whom we already knew the answers to… needless to say, it led to a steamy ending.  😉  Read Dan’s piece & try these with your husband, really seek to understand (without judgment if you don’t like his honest answers), in order to make an effort towards the best sex in your marriage.

Dan from Frankly Speaking:

“Is your husband satisfied with the short menu (your current routine or sex life)? If so, how do you know? Do you really know, or is it something you are assuming because of his behavior (the fact that he still wants sex regardless), or the fact that he has not said anything different to you?

If you have never really established a pattern or method for dialog about sex, how reasonable is it to expect he WOULD say anything if unhappy.

Here is my man perspective on this. A husband is currently getting sex from his wife. How much or what kind is not the point. Getting sex is the point. He knows his wife and he never really talk about sex, and he also (more than likely) believes his wife is reserved sexually. Talking about sex will be difficult. If he tells her he is…which bomb word do I insert here?…bored, unhappy, unexcited, not all that interested, wanting more; you take your pick, he foresees her feelings being hurt and her going into a depression and that means NO SEX.

He would like to speak up, but he doesn’t want what he may see as the bedroom privileges he does enjoy revoked, even though married sex is not to be seen as a privilege to be awarded by either party to the other.

If you have not yet established a sex talk pattern the two of you are comfortable with, what he sees happening with bringing this up is sexual Russian roulette, and the gun is pointing at him with bullets in all chambers of the cylinder. It looks Lose/Lose to him.

So, again I ask, how you can be so sure you are right? How do you know he is happy with the short menu?

Does he like oral sex? How many times a week would he like it?

Does he like the sex you have? How many times a week would he like it?

Does he like it when you masturbate him?

Does he like watching you masturbate?

What is his favorite sexual activity?

What does he like about your body; your breasts, your vulva?

What pet name does he have for your vulva and breasts?

Does he like the smell and taste of your body of your body where ever he places his face?

What is his favorite sexual memory of you?

Which are his favorite panties and why?

Does he like stockings?

What is his favorite place to rest his hand on your body?

How many of those answers do you know?

You should know them all, and he should know them about you if you have been married over 3 to 5 years.

This is the place to start when seeking contentment in your sex life. What are the two of you currently happy with and excited by. You both need to begin by knowing you have sexual value to one another. First count your blessings. Then when you are ready to talk change, you are starting from a place of seeking to give greater pleasure to one another and not just seeming to want to improve you own sexual lot.

Pray for guidance and wisdom. This community (Dan’s blog) can can offer our advice and opinions based on our own trials and experience, but we do not know your hearts as God does. When you have prayed, listen for the knowledge God has concerning your hearts. That may be where the change begins, and not in the bedroom, but that change in heart will encourage change the bedroom.”

Book recommendations from Dan:

book1

book2

As you are married for longer amounts of time, Dan mentions that you may have to go back through a set of questions like these – rediscover each other’s needs and wants – since over time and through familiarity, they may have changed.  The goal is for total communication and being on the same page when it comes to sex in marriage.

You want to be having the best sex possible in your marriage right?

Go for it!