Family Matters: Live and let grow
By SHIMRIT NOTHMAN
in honor of Tu Bishvat, conflict resolution expert Shimrit Nothman gives advice on how to grow in your relationship.
With the Jewish holiday of TuBishvat coming up, children and
grown-ups alike go out and plant new trees, eat fresh and dried fruit and sing
songs about the blooming trees.
Just like nature, we aspire to grow and
renew ourselves all the time. But what happens when we’re in a relationship with
a person who seems to prefer his growth to ours? What can we do when we feel our
partner is blocking our professional growth?
Firstly, you need to determine
whether your partner is really holding you back or just not being very
supportive. There is a big difference between the two.
your partner is - consciously or otherwise - holding you back may include the
following: your partner instructing you to stay home with the kids, against your
wishes; repeatedly complaining that the house isn’t in order when he or she
returns from work; and spending more time in the office than at home and
expecting you to be the one responsible for taking care of sick kids and house
Not being supportive is less “active” on the part of your partner
and may be expressed as: your partner not telling you how amazing you are at
what you do; not contributing around the house unless given specific
instructions; and not asking about your day at work or taking interest in
difficulties you may be experiencing there.
It’s up to you
believe that in marriage both partners should offer support to one another, but
it might not work that way sometimes. Your partner may try to hold you back for
many different reasons: perhaps he carries old values from home, in which the
man’s job is to work and support the family financially and the woman’s job is
to stay home and take care of it; your partner may falsely feel that his pride
will be hurt if you do better in your career than he would in his; perhaps
they’re one of those people who put their job ahead of everything else, and so
won’t take any other responsibility around the house or otherwise, if he feels
it hampers his ability to “make it” in business.
Whatever the reason is,
if you are otherwise happy in your marriage, it might be best to leave your
arguments and constant bickering aside and find someone who can help you advance
your career and be happy with it.
Find support somewhere else. It can be
a family member or a close friend that you ask this of. You can ask them for
help with taking care of the children and the house chores, and you can also ask
them for emotional support.
You can accept advice from an expert such as
a motivational consultant, a life coach or a psychologist.
explaining the new changes you are making to your partner, you probably know
best. Sometimes it’s better to take it slowly and they just won’t feel the
difference. Other times it’s enough that you’ll make a statement and have them
Push for support
In situations where one’s partner is not supportive, which is different than actively hampering progress, they may be unaware
that they’re not being supportive, or that you require this. Share these
feelings with your partner and let them know you would like them to be more
supportive of your career. But, in most cases this will not suffice and you will
also have to give them clear instructions of how you wish to be supported. You
can have your partner take more responsibilities around the house, or come home
from work early one day a week to pick up the kids from school, or even devote
an hour a week in which you’ll both be discussing your careers, offering advice
and support as needed. And particularly in cases where your partner didn’t
realize that they weren’t being supportive or that this was required, even just
discussing the matter will often improve the situation.
In either case,
remember that at the end of the day your “getting ahead” doesn’t entirely
revolve around your partner but rather that you are responsible for your
professional growth. Always ask yourself: “What can I do to advance my career?”
You will find that there is much you can do, with or without the support of the
one closest to you.
Shimrit Nothman has a Masters degree in Conflict Resolution and believes that
like charity, conflict resolution begins at home. If you have any questions for
Shimrit, please use the comments section below or email her at
This column is brought to you as general information only and should not be a
replacement for professional advice.