But you promised!

by Steven W. Harley, M.S.

Steven W. Harley, M.S. Dave sat dumbfounded at what he was hearing. "How could you do this? How could you leave? You've been working here for the past 15 years and you act as though you just got here."

Jill had just handed Dave her Letter of Resignation and was trying to explain why she was leaving. "Dave, there is no question that, for the most part, the company has treated my family and me well. You just need to understand that I haven't grown here. And what's more, my needs have changed. I want something different...challenging."

"What have you found?" asked Dave with a defeated voice knowing that she had found another job.

Jill responded with sympathy, "I was approached about three months ago by a headhunter who asked if I would be interested in a new job he found. When he first asked, I immediately said ‘No.' But after I thought about it, and after I looked back at the years that I've been here, I asked for more information. From there it was just amazing. It was as though he knew what I was looking for...what I had been missing. The job seemed to be custom made for my experience, skills, and future plans. What could I have said?"

"No!" Dave exclaimed. "You could have said ‘No!'" Dave was beside himself. He never saw any of this coming. "Why is this the first time that I'm hearing about your unhappiness? Why didn't you ever tell me. I'm your boss, for crying out loud! You're supposed to come to me if you have a problem, or if you're dissatisfied with your job. What happened?"

"I'm what? I'm supposed to come to YOU? Don't you have some sort of responsibility to make sure that I'm happy here? Just because you don't hear me complain, it doesn't mean that I'm happy to be here, you know." Jill was getting a little bit distressed with the position Dave was taking. All Jill could think of right now is that her current job paled in comparison to the new job that was waiting for her.

"Ok, ok. Let's get down to a more serious issue here," Dave said. "I have your contract right here." Dave proceeded to finger through his files until he found the one with Jill's name on it. "Let's see...here it is, your promise. We had an understanding, Jill. The company would provide a list of things for you, and you would provide the company a list of things for them. That was the agreement...that was the contract you signed. You made a promise!" he said with a low but forceful voice. He continued with the same low, forceful tenor, "We had a clear understanding of what we all were getting into, didn't we? You thought it over. We thought it over. You were happy about it. We were happy about it. And not just that, but it made sense. It had a future. We had an agreement, Jill." Dave paused for a moment as he was beginning to loose his focus. Finally, he lost it. Out of frustration, he yelled, "What happened!?"

Unfortunately, this is a conversation that I hear too many times every week. However, it's not a discussion over a Letter of Resignation, it's a discussion over divorce papers. Yet, the reasons for leaving are basically the same...unmet needs.

Do you know what your spouse's needs are? Better yet, do you know what YOUR needs are? These questions are the very reason why we have created the Emotional Needs Questionnaire. Because if you don't have the answers, you are left to guess. And why would you want to guess at something so critical to a happy marriage when you could have the answers given to you?

Food for thought...

Steven W. Harley, M.S. is the Director of the Marriage Builders® Counseling Center.

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