Scott’s wife is at it again. She fussed at him for not pushing more for a promotion at work. As usual, Scott feels a mixture of guilt (not very strong) and annoyance (growing by the minute). For their entire 15-year marriage, Jane has pestered him to work harder and be a better provider. Scott wonders if she even notices his strengths, such as he goes to work without fail, he treats Jane with kindness, he buys gifts for her when he goes on business trips, and he likes washing her car for her without being asked.
What to Say:
Scott: Sweetheart, you know you are the love of my life. I want to please you in every way. However, I am tired of you pushing me to make more of myself in the workplace. When you say that you want me to be a more successful businessman, I shrink to about two inches tall. I’m content in my hourly job and as long as we can combine our income and pay our bills each month, I feel that I’m doing my part.
Jane: Yes, you are doing OK, but I want to see you do more. I’m worried about the future and I just don’t feel secure in your ability to provide for us. I want you to develop greater ambition and be a star player in your office.
Scott: You’re doing it again. I’ve asked you to stop pushing me and just LEAVE IT ALONE. I’m a “human being”, not a “human doing.” Please don’t measure me by my career success. Let me feel your love and respect for who I am; not for what I do.
Jane: I can see that I’ve hurt you and I never meant to do that. Old habits die hard, but I’ll try to stop pushing you. I married you because I love you. While I might try to change you into a hard-driving career guy, I recognize you have many other gifts. I won’t do this perfectly, but I commit to back off and accept you as you are.
Question: What sticky conversations do you face?