Thursday, August 22, 2013

when you feel resentful about homemaking

Last week I shared my friend's question with you:
I was wondering if any of you have any advice, or could recommend a talk or book, that could encourage me in my role as homemaker.

I have been becoming increasingly irritated and resentful about doing all the housework lately (as well as finances, admin, handy man stuff etc). I'm also the one who is training the children to do it. Maybe I need to share it with my husband more, I don't know. 
(My friend has several young children, and every week she has 2 child-free days that theoretically free her up to do housework. She says, "I am hesitant to add more to my husband's workload when I have 'extra time'.")
Here's my response, with a few suggestions from mutual friends scattered through (you'll find some more responses here). You can skip to the practical points at the end if you like!

***

You'll need to figure out the "why" behind what you're feeling before you know what to do. There are five main reasons I can think of that this happens for me:

1) because I am extra tired, and tiredness brings out my anger. One of the ways I know I'm exhausted is that I start to feel angry at my husband. It's a warning sign I've come to recognise. It might mean I need a day off (maybe he could mind the kids and let you go away for a night?), or need to remember all he does, or need to ask for more help, or, when it’s not under my control, just need to recognise it, pray for grace, and be patient until it passes.

My friend adds,
When I have found myself getting annoyed, resentful or frustrated in the past, I have found praying through 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 with a focus on the specific person triggering the response helpful. This has proved to be a great aid to forgiveness and a great assistance to recovering a Christ-like attitude in difficult situations for me (and for others who have also tried it). It is especially helpful when prayed in the light of 1 John 4:7-12.
2) because I'm losing sight of why I'm doing this: it’s my job, and one I willingly accepted. That's where reading books has really helped me. Carolyn Mahaney's Feminine Appeal helped me see my role this way years ago, and her book Shopping for Time is a great help in living it out. But I think you’ve already been there, done that! I've found that talking with godly friends in similar situations, sharing our difficulties, helping each other keep our eyes on the goal, and praying for each other, also helps a lot.

3) because I'm unwilling to ask for or accept help, perhaps because I'm proud or stubborn, or like to do things my way so I can control the outcome. (For example, when my husband does the dishes he leaves them until later, but I like to get them done before I relax. Or he shops and doesn’t buy the exact things I want. Or, when it comes to child rearing, I think I can do it better.) I need to loosen up and let him help!

My friend adds,
In terms of sharing the load, it helps to give specifics and perhaps to set a time in the week for doing them if that helps the husband remember them. Also, set up a back-up system for when the wife is feeling overwhelmed. We have also talked about which jobs we prefer and have found that often they differ and we can do something that we prefer that the other hates. 
Another friend says,
The issue might be your husband's lack of involvement in family responsibilities. It could be that his brain is in a different place and he hasn't noticed how much he's dumped on you, but finding the balance is important for making it through the long term. I would start by talking with him about it and maybe suggesting he chat with a more experienced person about gaining a balance between the responsibilities of home and work/ministry/study.
 4) because I don't take time to rest, perhaps because I set my sights too high (e.g. every mother has to train their kids in this way, pray with their kids that way, keep this clean, collect these memories...), so I'm getting burnt out. I’ve learned I need a day off during the week – weekends don’t do it, they’re just a continuation of my week’s work – so I take most Friday mornings off and go to a park to read, write, walk and pray. I have to remind myself that caring for our home and family is my main ministry so it’s okay not to be doing heaps of other things! Books like Tim Chester’s The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness and Arch Hart’s Adrenaline and Stress help me here.

5) because I've lost sight of God's grace, all he's forgiven me for, and all he willingly gives me, so I feel bitter and resentful about serving. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m hoping that Gloria Freeman’s Glimpses of Grace - a book about the gospel and homemaking (it looks really good, not at all twee or predictable) - will help me here. Or Tim Keller’s King’s Cross or any other book on the cross would do. Or just some time spent in God’s word, reading over Psalm 103 or a gospel or a letter and meditating on God’s character and all he’s done. (Another good reason for asking for a day off to rest and refocus.)

Anyhow, here are some specific ideas, depending on what the issue is:
  • communicate what you’re feeling with your husband, and see if he has some perspective and what he offers. You might be pleasantly surprised. (I say "if" because it can’t be assumed, and sometimes we need to accept our husbands the way they are, forbear, forgive, and remember to be thankful for all God has given us in them. But the conversations need to happen first, and regularly if possible, so that resentment doesn’t build up.) 
  • ask for help in specific ways, and accept help when it is offered. You probably know by now the things your husband is more keen to help out with, or more capable of doing; perhaps you could hand over some of these things, at least temporarily. 
  • lower your standards. Are there things you are doing because you think they need to be done rather than because God demands them of you? You might need to sit more lightly to them (e.g. I’d love to still be learning Bible verses with my kids, but the demands of life have meant that we only did that for a year - of course, we keep teaching them the Bible, just differently).
  • take a morning or weekend off to recuperate and reflect and re-energise. Do it soon! Take a regular day off during the week. Talk and pray with godly friends in a similar situation 
  • as you suggest, read some good books: God’s word, something on your role, something on self-care, something on God’s grace 
  • pray about what you’re feeling. I should have put that first! ;)

Please keep adding your ideas to the comments. Just click here. Thanks to those who've already responded!

8 comments:

All Things Beautiful said...

I found your blog through a link to this article on FB. I appreciate the helps you have written here. I know for myself when I start getting frustrated with how life is going at the moment it helps to remind myself of a few things. First that Satan is at war against families, but especially Christian, God loving, God honoring families. Second that there are so many other people who would love to be where I am. There are so many truly suffering for the cause of Christ, think missionaries or those imprisoned for their faith. Praying for them and being thankful for myself helps a lot to shift my focus back to where it should be. Third that "this too shall pass". All these are in addition to some that you have listed above.

Wholesome Womanhood said...

I really identify with #1. I've found that when I get overly tired I have a tendency to get mad at my husband for everything! When that happens, I know I need to make it a priority to get to bed at a decent hour. I also try to find time to sleep in a little bit later or take a nap. It's hard to let myself do that when a nap feels like a luxury. But I've come to realize it's important to keep myself well-rested so I can love my husband and keep a good perspective on motherhood.

April Swiger said...

Hi! I came across your post through Tim Challie's website. I so appreciate the honesty expressed in your friend's question. It can really be difficult to find joy in homemaking. I struggle with that often!

It's quite a (divine) coincidence that I came across your post as I just wrote about "Finding Joy as a Homemaker" yesterday. Here's a link to my post for some thoughts about this topic - http://redemptivehomemaking.com/2013/08/finding-joy-as-a-homemaker.html

-April Swiger

Anonymous said...

I found your article through Challies. I appreciate all the helpful comments found on both posts and your answers as well. I think they are wise and biblical. I also think it is most important for this friend to pray, pray, pray about having a conversation with her husband where she is speaking the truth in love (your point on communicate). We women tend to be hinters. Men are not, they are direct and so I would encourage her to speak the truth in love to her husband and ask him to help her to dissect her heart, to share the burden she's feeling, the resentment she's tempted with (or has given in to and sinned against him), and the humility to ask for help or advice. He may see some things/habits in her life that are complicating things for her and the solution might be some growth on her part or on his or both.
I think it's also wise to apply "lower your standards" to your husband as well--is it possible that a husband's gotten the message that wife doesn't want his help, because she's corrected/redone the help he's given in the past? Give grace/space when help is given & be thankful rather than re-doing.

One thing that is occasionally missed in the discussion of loving our husbands is that they are also our brothers in Christ. It is such a delicate topic because we aren't to nag, manipulate or mother our husbands. Each of us sees our spouse's sin more often than others and therefore much grace is needed to respond to it with a gracious, forgiving, love-covers-a-mulitude heart, but also, just as we would do with our other brothers and sisters in Christ, we may become the gentle instruments that God uses to show our spouses their blind spots (weaknesses or sins). We do not truly love a brother or sister in Christ if we continually shut our eyes to their sin. So, is it possible that the situation really does include selfishness on the husband's part? Sure, but...most likely it isn't intentional. First and foremost, I need to pray that God would show me my heart. And second, that He would show my husband the weakness or sin that seems obvious to me. God can change him without me saying a word. I have seen God answer this pray in different ways at different times in our marriage and often as He shows me my own faults (weaknesses or sins). In our (short) 12 years of marriage, we've also grown in our loving communication to the point where pointing out sin to one another in love is good and helpful thing, not a tearing apart. Aaaand I promise if you knew me, you'd know just how much I sin and just how gracious and forgiving my husband is, a great example of Christ both in our home and out of it.
PS (i also do the work that friend listed above --bills, and handyman too, so I am super sympathetic to that temptation. God's grown me alot. and I'm jealous that she has 2 kid-free days!!

Jean said...

Very helpful responses, thanks to all of you!

Wholesome Womanhood, I agree. I have a short nap every afternoon so I can stay cheerful and patient and joyful during the afternoon and evening work / family relationships. It really helps.

And to the last commenter, I appreciated all those points about speaking the truth in love, thank you.

Charlotte Mathis said...

I am a SAHG (Stay at home grandmother) Taking care of our single son's 4 children. I believe that the lack of value that women feel about their role at home and the conflict from expecting a man to come home from work ready to do housework has torn apart many a family.
Women need praise from their husbands and Christian friends for the work they do. It is a demanding job as I am finding out all over again.
When we home schooled our children for 13 years, I wrote out a document of why I decided to choose that path and what our long term goals were.
Now we have 4 adult children and several of our older grandchildren who are walking with the Lord and trusting Him as they raise their families.
Was it, is it, worth it? Oh yes, God has been faithful through it all!

Anonymous said...

I was fortunate to be a stay at home and homeschool mom for all the years my kids were younger. I too remember the days of being tired and going to sleep while the kids were reading to me, they always loved that:) Exhaustion comes from just all the activity that goes with that role but there is also the part our thyroid plays in it. So many women are deficient in that area and don't even know it. I've finally gotten mine to where it should be and so wish I had done this years ago when it would have been such a help. I would recommend the natural, herbal route. Kelp, irish moss, and dulse are all full of the minerals our thyroid needs to function correctly. Check your area for a trusted herb counselor, I'm sure there is one near.

Rachach said...

Hey Jean, I only just noticed these posts today! All great suggestions. Tiredness was the main reason for me to feel resentful, but there were also some other things that needed to change and thankfully they have! I haven't felt resentful at all since these changes have been made (he is now responsible for doing all the dishes, Simone's suggestion was right on the money) and I give myself a morning off at least once a fortnight. Having a morning off for fun has also helped me to not get disappointed on the weekends because, as you said, the weekends are just a continuation of my weekdays, they are rarely a time for relaxation or fun! xx