On resentment.

Dear Coquette,

I’ve got a stable, successful career that allows me the opportunity to have my own home, support my disabled mother, and put my husband through college without him having to work a job. I work really hard for what I’ve got, and I’ve come a long way from my past (super broke ghetto kid); conversely, my husband has never had to work for much (super rich golden child). I’m glad that I can support him and give him the life I wish I had — after all, who doesn’t want a free ride through college without having the distraction of a job to bog you down? But at the same time, I’m kicking my own ass because, deep down, I feel resentful of his position. Even he claims to feel “unfulfilled” by not holding down a job, which in turn makes me feel even more resentful because I feel like he should be super grateful for what I do for him.

I guess the question is, am I a jerk for feeling resentful? Didn’t I do it to myself? And shouldn’t I just be pleased with myself for doing a good deed?

Never expect someone to feel grateful. Ever. Just don’t do it. It’s always better to be pleasantly surprised when someone expresses genuine gratitude, as opposed to being constantly disappointed by a world full of petty thoughtlessness.

While you’re at it, try not to be all pleased with yourself for doing a good deed. It’s just a manifestation of your ego, and that never layers well with expectations of gratitude. It’s also the kind of thing that turns selfless acts into selfish ones, and the resulting emotions are the inevitable building blocks of resentment.

Speaking of which, are you ready for some brutal truth? Golden boy resents you too. All that whining about being unfulfilled is a manifestation of his resentment, and it’s the closest he’ll ever come to telling you the dark and sticky truth, outside of couples therapy.

His resentment isn’t justified, but that’s why he keeps it to himself. Quite frankly, your resentment isn’t justified either, and between the two of you, you’re each bottling up enough of the stuff to turn it into a slow-acting poison for your marriage.

You guys should really air out these issues. The sooner the better. Over time, this is the stuff that silently kills long-term relationships, because it erodes the foundation of respect upon which they’re built.


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