QUESTION FROM A GREEK TRAGEDY READER: How do you rally the troops for a significant other who has fallen in on themselves? We moved across the country a little over a year ago, and have struggled endlessly ever since. The job market has been wholly unforgiving, with him being unemployed and myself being underemployed the entire time. He recently sat for a licensing exam he has spent a lot of blood, sweat and tears on only to miss the passing mark by an anguishing hair. I managed to escape the wretched job market by going back to school for a Masters degree, but he’s headlong and neck deep into a graduate degree for almost $200k. We coulda-woulda-shoulda scenarios all day, but the point now is, how do I motivate him without making him feel any more beaten up than he currently feels? This is especially hard being the partner in the relationship who is finally excelling in an area I’m rabidly passionate about.
Before I give my two cents, and I will, I’ll open this up to other readers who might want to chime in. I’ll weigh in after I drop the wee ones off at the Jewish Community Center and once I’ve strung a few rows of lights on our Christmas tree. Promise.
While I did manage to drop off and pick up the wee ones, the stringing of lights have not yet begun. In truth, I’m sick in bed, my eyes puffy, my nose running, coughing, headache, buried in covers watching Bernard & Doris. There’s a point here.
There’s a lot at play here. A lot on both your shoulders. You say you moved across the country a little over a year ago. Do you have family closeby now where you live? Stress actually decreases when we know we have a support system in place, even if we don’t necessarily utilize it. It’s comforting to know there’s a sense of security, a sense of family, a sense of "No matter what happens, we’re here for you." Yes, we should all be that soft pile of blankets, that sense of security, of shelter, but you can’t do it alone. Well, you can. But it helps when you’re not the only one doing the listening and pep.
Now then, onto his missing the mark with regard to the exam, that’s an issue of pride. Man pride, which for sure requires kid gloves but not a kiddie tone. I think it comes down to his mood, the mood of the moment, only you know when it’s best to try to lift his spirits. If he resists, I’d leave it alone, but I wouldn’t give up. Remind him of all the things you love about him, that this is just a moment, that there will be ups and downs. Things move in cycles, and what really makes us successful is how we rebound. How enthusiastically we spring back up after setbacks. That’s what I see your role as, to nurture, to remind him of his best self, not who he was or what the original plans were but who he is, what he’s made of, the tools, the strengths with which he was born. He’ll trust in his talents again, he will, in the meanwhile, you’ll listen, you’ll comfort, you’ll step back when you need to, and you’ll do what a mother does (even though he’s your partner, not your son), you’ll mother him, which I interpret as comfort, and mindfulness. A mother’s job is to nurture, to provide shelter and security, and to pay attention, to notice her child’s strengths and remind him of them, remind him of how proud you genuinely are of him, and I promise, you can’t go wrong.
GOT QUESTIONS? NEED ADVICE?
If you have questions or need advice on anything from where to eat to how to get over the bastard, just email your question to my advice email address. Nope, I’m not a shrink, but since people keep asking for my opinion, I might as well share it and air it, so everyone else can weigh in too.
4 YEARS AGO: Snow Feathers