Dear Jenny: My husband and I have been married for almost 10 years. The whole time, we've lived in the same city as his family; my family lives across the country. I like his family, and we are definitely close. We see them often, once or twice a week. But after seeing them so much for so many years and seeing my family only a couple of times a year, I am starting to really resent them and am finding it difficult to be around them lately. It's not anyone's fault, but I can't seem to shake this frustration I have when my husband wants us to hang out with them, again. I hate feeling this way. Help! — Moira, Illinois
Jenny says: As I'm sure you are aware, resentment builds over time. Primarily, it is induced after months or years of feeling you have been slighted or wronged. Resentment is typically targeted toward the person you believe is the cause of your pain. Then, over time, it generalizes to a larger group of people — for example, all men, all employers, all teachers, etc. In your case, it's your husband's family. The problem with resentment is that the only person it hurts is you. I am sure you intuitively know that feeling upset, annoyed or wronged is getting you nowhere. In fact, negativity typically triggers more negativity. Resentment is a toxic emotion that can tear apart relationships and even cause physical ailments, such as headaches, stomachaches and chronic fatigue.
The good news is that you are aware of your feeling resentful. The next step is to develop a plan to move forward. If you haven't already, express your frustration to your husband. Is he aware you are feeling angry? If not, it's time he knows. When you speak the truth, you become stronger, more confident and more aware. Perhaps it is time to entertain the idea of moving closer to your family or increasing the amount of times you see them per year.
Realize you are not helpless in your situation. Be proactive. What will make you happy? Create a plan and implement it into your life. In my opinion, the solution to resentment is acceptance. In your situation, accept the fact that you live near your husband's family and not near your own. If you don't like your current situation, change it. Good luck!
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