Disenchanted Wife

24 Jun

Letterbalm Toxic BossDear LetterBalm: My wife and I have been married for 10 years, and both of us have careers we love. But in the past year, I haven’t been able to recognize the caring, talented and vibrant woman I married. A new boss was promoted to head her unit, and he has sucked the life out of everyone. He’s mean, hypocritical and insecure (I’ve seen him in action), and he plays favorites. He’s the walking example of how not to be a good manager. All this has taken its toll. My wife’s energy is so low, that she can barely get up for work every morning. I’ve tried to encourage her, but her self-confidence has been so eroded she doesn’t even want to revise her resume and reach out to her professional network to find a new job. Quitting is not an option because our joint salaries support us and severely disabled family members in home care out-of-state. What can I say to her to break this ugly spell?

–Helpless

Ms. L.B. knows first-hand the damage a toxic manager can inflict. Psychologists have determined that a stressful job ranks right up there with money troubles and divorce. Your job now is to reassure your wife, to be an oasis in her desert of misery. It sounds simplistic, but little gestures (a foot rub, a rose on her nightstand, a bottle of wine and take-out from her favorite Italian restaurant) will help a lot. You don’t want to disrupt her life at home; you want your time together to be as calming as it can be. She may respond to a mini-getaway weekend – or just having you listen without judgment. For now, put your complaints on the back burner, but urge her gently to put her fabulous self out there on the market. Try this when you know she’s in the mood to listen:

Honey, you’ve been putting up with so much lately. I can’t possibly know everything you’re feeling about your job. I do know it makes me mad – I wish I could take away the pain. But I can’t. The only person who can really change things is you. How about we order sushi from the Asian Flower and look over your resume together? I might have some ideas, and a fresh set of eyes is always good. It’s a first step, but at least you’ll be getting some control. You’re the best, hon, and I love you. I will always listen and always be in your corner, you know that.

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