Initially I tried to hide or deny that I felt resentment about being a trailing spouse. Then someone pointed out that I was grieving and this reframed everything.
I think it is necessary to grieve for the loss of a particular dream or hope. And grief often entails anger as one moves through the process of letting go and adapting to a new reality. Plus I was dealing with severe culture shock.
Although resentment and anger are part of the same coin, resentment is usually toward someone you perceive to have higher status than you. When I realized that resenting my husband was a hallmark of low self-esteem or worse, internalized patriarchy, I kicked that attitude to the curb.
These days I focus on creating the best life possible and to live each day to the fullest. Here are my coping mechanisms for handling trailing spouse resentment:
I remind myself that this is an opportunity to learn.
There’s a saying that goes something like: “The more you learn, the less you know.” I have realized I have a lot to learn about other cultures, ecosystems and economics. I sometimes feel angry and bitter that all my “skills” are wasted or underutilized. Recently, thanks to Mr. Money Mustache, I now see all my free time as a gift of freedom to learn NEW skills to make myself more marketable. Now I am pursuing skills that allow for a portable career.
I stay stimulated and busy.
If you are doing something, then you can’t brood about what you aren’t doing! Here are some things that have created happiness:
- Exploring (I sometimes combine exercise and exploring)
- Eating (I often combine eating and exploring)
I focus on the positive and having fun.
But also consider volunteering–I love my volunteer job at the Red Cross!
If all else fails, Chocolate. And reading blogs from other trailing spouses.
Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net