23 October 2016Last updated

Features | People

Ask the expert: my laid-back attitude irks my wife

When two people marry, it’s inevitable that they discover each other’s strengths and weaknesses over time

Russell Hemmings.
5 Aug 2016 | 12:00 am

I’m not ambitious at all and happy with what I’m doing, but my wife is quite driven and always aspiring to achieve more. Often, she is disappointed with my laid-back attitude. Is she justified?

Relationships can become tricky when those involved seem to want different things, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t still work. But entering one where you hope to change the person you are with according to your expectations is likely to breed resentment in both of you.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you at all. We’re all different. I, however, do wonder if your wife has always struggled with your laid-back approach to life, or if something recent has sparked her disappointment. This is something to consider as there could be an underlying issue that’s making her feel this way. Talking openly and without judgement is the only way to get to the bottom of what’s going on in your relationship, so perhaps you could initiate this.

When two people marry, it’s inevitable that they discover each other’s strengths and weaknesses over time. The key to achieving long-term joy is to be able to unite around these and play to the strengths, while filling in for each other’s weaknesses. You either become a team and are much stronger for it, or you pull in opposite directions and weaken the core.

Identifying shared values and a common purpose will provide a good foundation to move forward. Regardless of whether you’re the one more relaxed about the future, the reality is we all have hopes and dreams, so discussing what you both want will clarify your roles.

Sometimes we can move along without thinking too hard about where we are going. You might fall into this category, but you should take time to reflect on your own qualities. Perhaps you aren’t vocal enough about what you bring to the marriage. Loyalty, commitment, positivity are all qualities we seek in a partner, so it could be the right time to speak up about them a little more. Compromise is the basis of successful relationships, so learning from each other and developing shared interests will also help to mitigate further resentment. Perhaps you could teach your wife how to relax a bit more, while you could learn to be a little more dynamic about achieving goals from her.

If she’s ambitious, then encourage her. Supporting her to achieve what she wants is going to be a win-win situation. Be a sounding board and positive about discussing the future, but also participate in decision-making as women sometimes appreciate decisiveness in a man.

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Russell Hemmings.

Russell Hemmings

Life coach, and clinical and cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist. More info: / 04 4273627 / 055 2867275.