But no one told me!
by Steven W. Harley, M.S.
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
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
"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.