Family Matters: Live and let grow

in honor of Tu Bishvat, conflict resolution expert Shimrit Nothman gives advice on how to grow in your relationship.

Family Matters: TuBishvat (photo credit: Wikicommons)
Family Matters: TuBishvat
(photo credit: Wikicommons)
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.
Indications that 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 chores.
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
You may 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.
As for 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 face facts.
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 [email protected]
This column is brought to you as general information only and should not be a replacement for professional advice.