But no one told me!
Bruce was absolutely furious about even being in this situation. "I was faithful year after year! I did what I was supposed to do and I never complained! I did my job!" he yelled, "Don't I get any credit for that?!"
Bruce was sitting in Andy's office, Bruce's lawyer. Bruce had just been fired from The Fealinngs Medical Company (TFMC) because Bruce lost his certification. He was meeting with Andy because Bruce was not sure what to do at this point. But he did know that it wasn't his fault.
"Andy, tell me how TFMC could be so cold? I've been a model employee for 12 years. For 12 years! And the first time that I lose my certification, BAM! I'm canned. And it wasn't my fault anyway. Can't they see that? Can't they see that I wasn't told! They didn't send the letter!"
Wait, wait, wait." Andy said, who was very confused with what Bruce was saying. "Can't who see what? Who didn't send you the letter?"
With a sigh of condescension, Bruce continued, but speaking much slower hoping Andy would understand him this time. "TFMC fired me because I lost my certification. But, what I tried to tell them was that I never got the information letter from the State Certification Board."
"Information letter? What information letter?" Andy questioned.
Bruce sighed again and continued. "It's a letter that the certification board sends out every year covering all the certification renewal information and when all of that stuff has to be in. I never got it!" he yelled. "This is what I tried to tell TFMC, but they wouldn't listen. They just fired me."
"Can't you just reapply?" Andy asked.
"Sure. But once you lose it, it takes 2 years to get it back. TFMC said that they didn't want to wait that long. They said that they needed someone who was certified to do the job right now. So, they are going to look for someone else." Bruce said in a very defeated voice.
But as Bruce sat in his chair and pondered his situation, he became increasingly angry and said, "I want to sue the state, Andy." "What?" Andy replied. "It's their fault!" Bruce exclaimed. "Every year, they would send me a clear reminder about what I had to. They spelled out what I had to do over the next year and when I had to do it. Every year for 11 years in a row, this is what they did. It was the routine. It was how it was done." With an almost sinister look on his face and increasing hope that this is how he could get his job back, in a louder voice said, "So, when they forgot to send it out this year, how was I supposed to know! No one told me!!"
Andy sprung up from his high-back leather chair and quickly shut the office door. "You'd better calm down, Bruce! And right now!" Andy stated with disgust. "Allow me to explain something to you here. And because we go way back, I'll be straight with you. Ok?" Bruce nodded. Andy continued, "It is YOU who is responsible to get those continuing education credits in on time. It is YOUR responsibility to understand how and when you need to get all that stuff in." Andy was becoming increasingly irritated. "Who do you think you are anyway? Do you think you're something special that the state would assume full responsibility for holding your hand every year so that you could maintain your expertise? Why would they do that?" he yelled. "You're a piece of work, Bruce. You really are."
Andy took a moment to gather his composure. He usually gets upset with himself when he loses his temper like that. But, there are few things in life that bother Andy more than people who refuse to see their own responsibility in things.
"Let me put it to you this way, Bruce." Andy said as he leaned forward in his chair. "Why do you like working at TFMC?"
Bruce had a puzzled look on his face because he wasn't sure where this was going.
"Why do you like working there?" Andy asked again.
Bruce answered, "Because it's my passion. It's what I love doing. I really enjoy how I'm treated there. Well, at least I used to enjoy it. And if I'm going to have to pay the bills doing something, this is what I want to do."
"So it's about as important to you than anything else you can think of, huh?" Andy stated in a very self-assured manner.
Bruce quickly responded, "It IS as important to me than anything else I can think of. It's my life, Andy. That's exactly why I want it back." Bruce started to feel depressed the more he thought about not working at TFC.
Andy continued his line of questioning in a very direct yet sincere voice. "Bruce, if it is so important to you, if that job is such a source of joy in your life, then why on earth would you rely on anyone but yourself to make sure that you were doing what you need to do in order to keep it? Any information provided by the state should be viewed as a SERVICE, not a right. Does it make your job easier when they provide this service? Absolutely! However, maintaining the requirements to keep your certifications is still YOUR responsibility."
Bruce literally sank in his chair as he felt the weight of responsibility drop in his lap.
So, how does this apply to your marriage? Consider TFMC as a representation of your spouse, the certification as a measure of expertise at meeting your spouse's needs and avoiding Love Busters, and the continuing education information letter as how to maintain your expertise.
It's nice to have important information provided for you. However, since maintaining your expertise is so critical to having a happy marriage, why not make it your responsibility to gather the necessary information?
Food for thought...
Steven W. Harley, M.S. is the Director of the Marriage Builders® Counseling Center.