What's your job?
I don't mean your job as in the world of work, I mean your job, in terms of your relationship. More specifically, what's your Job Description.
Now, I know you probably don't have a formal, written one. Sure, you could argue that 'wife'' – or, for that matter, 'husband' – is a job description, in and of itself. And you'd have a point. But 'husband' and 'wife' aren't very clear job descriptions. They mean one thing to one person, and something else to another. So, my question to you is this:
As a 'girlfriend/partner/wife which parts of the relationship do you feel are your responsibility?
You see, over the years of working with clients, I've discovered something very important. Everyone has had a very specific job description programmed into them, where relationships are concerned. That doesn't mean they're even conscious of that job description. Most likely, they are not. But still, they do their level best to live up to it.
Common features I've come across include:
- Must do everything possible to make things right for their loved one(s)
- Must be willing to work long hours without expecting to be rewarded for overtime
- Must be a background player
- Must be an energetic, creative, hard-working, self-motivating problem-solver
- Must be adept at establishing and maintaining strong relationships with difficult people
- Must be able to analyse unsuccessful initiatives to improve future ones
- Must have ability to take ownership of any task
- Must be willing to commit to the job 365 days a year, including Public Holidays
If anyone advertised a job like that on the open market, they probably wouldn't get too many takers.
Might a job like that end in burn out?
Does it have to be like that? Absolutely not. There are such things as job sharing, delegating, negotiating better terms and conditions that could be factored into what your responsibilities.
However, if your unwritten – and unconscious – job description runs along those lines, you'll probably just keep on working your socks off.
So, how do you do it differently – always assuming that you'd like to?
You could start by asking your 'employer' for better working conditions. But you could run into a problem. See, your 'employer' may have benefitted from your job description. Chances are, they accepted it. But did they actually write it in the first place? Or did you take it into the relationship?
The real question though, is what do you do about it?
You could try simply doing less. But you'll probably end up feeling a bit guilty.
So,what does that leave?
Taking a good, hard look at that job description of yours. It sounds outdated to me – it probably sounds outdated to you when you start to review it. First, you make sure you understand all of the terms in it. Next, you choose the ones you want to modify. Then you rewrite the thing.
When you do that, you'll have a better chance of ending up with a job description that works for you. And a contract that will work well for both you and your partner.