Beware of The Bully Lurking in Your Office
Money does matter... Maggie, 31, [all personal details changed for anonymity] is a little upset because a new promotion means she earns more than her long-term boyfriend. You might think, "What the heck - doesn't she know there's a recession on?" But it's never that simple.
Previously she and Tom, 32, have been on a par in their respective careers with Tom earning fractionally more. Maggie's an old-fashioned girl at heart and that status quo was absolutely fine with her. Ideally she wants him to earn more.
There's a fat chance of that happening with a slowdown in his industry compared to hers. How has this upset manifested itself? It's meant that Maggie’s being a bit snappy with him. She's also been a little bit pushy if truth be told, urging him to look around at other prospects.
She recounted that Tom was bewildered as this old-fashioned principle of the man earning more than his "little woman" hadn't previously crossed his radar before. He's annoyed that she’s annoyed with him. Personally I find her attitude extraordinary but professionally I try and understand all sides. There's usually some sort of understanding and solution to be found if you look at each prospective.
Maggie needed to explore with Tom why she felt this way. What was it in Maggie's emotional make-up that meant she felt better as a partner to have him fulfilling an old-fashioned role? Some heart-to-hearts uncovered what was going on and actually improved their relationship.
Maggie revealed her parents had enjoyed this traditional-type relationship with her father the major breadwinner. Because he'd died at an early age this image of her parents happy relationship, crucially at that time, had been crystallised in her young mind. Maggie equated security with how things had been and desperately wanted to recreate this. Now Tom understood this together they sought to enhance feelings of security within their relationship not attached to earning power. They improved communication at an emotional level and have moved on together.
An edited version of this was published in The Times
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