Do You Ever Feel Resentful of Your Spouse?

October 16, 2012 at 1:52 PM 6 comments

Okay, here’s a question for you. If you work in an industry or job you don’t particularly love, but your spouse works in one they truly enjoy do you ever feel resentful? As a software developer I often worked with men who were the primary breadwinners for their family. They worked long days in less then enjoyable jobs because the pay was high and the benefits were stable. In the mean time their wives worked in lower paying fields that they enjoyed. Some of those men seemed downright miserable and others grew to resent the ‘easier,’ more ‘enjoyable’ life they believe their wives led.

Similarly I’ve known quite a few women who want their husbands to earn more then they do. A few of them resented spouses who couldn’t bring in larger paychecks and a couple who were divorced as a result of it.

As a stay-at-home mom a lot of other women now ask me if my decision to leave the workforce was made jointly with my husband. (The answer is: “of course it was”.) The follow up question is often whether or not that is working out for me and whether my husband has grown resentful of our decision.

I’ve been asked the question often enough that I’ve started to wonder how many husbands and wives feel resentful of their spouses choice of career or lack of one. If you trudge off to work every morning feeling miserable about your job I can see how you might feel resentful of a spouse who enjoys their occupation.

For a few years I made more than my husband, for a few we earned relatively similar salaries and for the last five or so my husband earned significantly more than me, but I still earned a very nice salary. Until I decided to stay home our salaries and earning potential were never an issue. Similarly my husband earned more and enjoyed it more too, so happiness wasn’t really a factor either.

I wonder how many spouses are resentful of their spouse’s lack of income or resent their spouse’s work/life satisfaction. Until now I never gave it much thought, but a couple people have asked me about it, so it must be an issue for some.

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Revanche  |  October 16, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    In the past, I have been alternately puzzled by my partner’s lack of interest in career advancement (but seeming disproportionate-to-interest wage growth) and annoyed with myself for the choices I’ve made that felt like they took forever to pay off. Eventually it did pay off though, and I will keep making tweaks and changes toward creating a happier and healthier life and lifestyle for both of us.

    Being frustrated with being pigeonholed in a career or job that provides good material benefits but no food for the soul isn’t really a justifiable reason to take that out on your partner IMO. We all have choices, if you don’t like the choice you’ve made, find a way to make another one. We’re not promised easy lives, you have to make your way. I do understand that it’s harder when the change you want is from the spouse but it’s simply got to be easier talking through options until you reach a solution than resenting each other, isn’t it?

    I don’t know, it’s not like I’ve got all the answers. But sometimes I think we make things harder than we need to.

    Reply
  • 2. Ruby Leigh  |  October 16, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    This is thick stuff. I think being in a situation where you dislike your work but are golden handcuffed to it is never fun for anyone. If the reason you are golden handcuffed to your work is because your spouse has high-spending or poor income, yes it would be easy to get resentful. Does that make it right? I don’t know. Are there better ways to deal with the situation? probably, but they might require therapy.

    Reply
  • 3. Newlyweds on a Budget  |  October 16, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    I have resented my husband for making less than me and having the financial burden placed solely on my shoulders for the majority of our marriage while he worked on his career (he didn’t work for four months while in school, he worked part time for a while, etc). It really made me resentful because not only was I make 70% of our income, but I was also still in charge of all the household stuff. It made me see RED with fury. Things are MUCH better now because he has a better job, and we hired a housekeeper. I still make more than him, but he’s making enough now that we aren’t struggling as much financially like before. I think it’s when families are struggling that it’s really easy to blame the spouse that isn’t bringing their fair share of the income. However, being a stay at home mom is one of my dreams. I don’t know that we’d ever be able to afford it (we don’t even have kids yet!) but I would consider my work at home to be just as important as his. Plus childcare is expensive!

    Reply
  • 4. Beatrice  |  October 17, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    I don’t resent my husband but I really envy that he works in a (HR) profession that he enjoys, is good at, and makes decent money. (It also doesn’t help that I am interested in his field and have tried several times to break into it, to no avail). I am pigeon-holed in a (Finance) career that I don’t really enjoy but can’t seem to get out of because it’s what I’ve always done. At one point in my life, I temped as an exec admin and really enjoyed it. I liked that the job was low-stress, utilized my organizational/planning skills, and gave me the opportunity to interact and assist many people. I secretly wish I could be a stress-free admin again, but I know that wouldn’t fly with my family/friends, esp. after spending so much time and $ earning my MBA. I’m sure they would think of me as being unambitious and unsuccessful and my husband might even resent me for not getting a job that earns more money.

    Reply
  • 5. Legally Thrifty  |  October 19, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    I’m one of those women who prefer that the spouse be equally educated (or more) and make a higher salary (or have the earning potential). My current situation happens to conform to this ideal. He doesn’t resent me for making less and he understands that he will have to shoulder most of the burden in paying for a wedding and future home (which I definitely feel bad about and will contribute to as much as I can).

    One of my gfs is also an attorney and is in a relationship with a bartender. Our friends ask her, what will you guys do for money? But she doesn’t care about the money imbalance at all and is much happier now than in her last relationship with another attorney.

    Reply
  • 6. Jerry  |  October 22, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    I’ve never resented my spouse. It can lead to big problems. Insurance for a stable relationship is discussing your feelings and getting them out into the open.

    Reply

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