By Michelle Rawlings
Through out the day we have many roles we perform: Husband, wife, father, mother, child, sibling, employee, co-worker, supervisor, and friend. Some days we play multiple roles and others only a few. With all of these roles there are a variety of responsibilities and expectations, each having its own importance. Sometimes neglect can occur to certain roles when other roles take priority, however, with a good balance and judgment, learning to fit in to our roles appropriately without carrying over negative aspects from other roles is ideal. This is specifically true when switching over from social and professional roles to our personal and relationship roles. This also requires us not only to be conscious of our own roles but we need to keep in mind and be courteous of other’s roles.
Specifically in relationships, there needs to be a mutual understanding of what is expected from one another. What roles we play and our accountability create success in our relationships. When a partner stops “pulling their weight” problems begin to arise. Eventually, if our roles are compromised in our relationship then we will develop a chess match of who is going to destroy the other first, sometimes unknowingly. Next thing you know your relationship has been pulled apart and those involved are left wondering, “How did it get this bad?”
If you find your self struggling with your own expectations or those of another, a good place to start is by redefine your roles, what do you expect from yourself, give your roles priorities, find out what others expect from you and comprises on those expectations and the reality of you being able to successfully accomplish such expectations. Finally identify where your different roles start and stop. Here is an example,
Mr. R is husband, father, son, brother, uncle, service member, friend, and golfer. When Mr. R is at work he is all business. Here being a service member is priority number one. However, when Mr. R comes home he takes off his work hat and becomes a father and husband. However, Mr. R has been stressed at work and bringing his work problems home. His wife and children are sensing his stress and negative attitude. Mr. R needs a way to decompress after his workday so that he can adjust to his roles of husband and father. Mr. R and his wife decided that when Mr. R comes home and gets settled he and his wife take a few minutes to talk about his workday. By being able to hear about her husband’s experience at work she is able to be more aware of why her husband is stressed and they are able to work together to find a balance in the roles at home. This is also a cathartic release for Mr. R and he feels that he is more relaxed and able to better enjoy his time at home.
The point is, just because you walk through a door, you don’t automatically switch in to a new role like a super hero jumping in to a phone booth and magically reappearing in a cape ready to save the day. Think about it, when you get ready for your work role you wake up, eat breakfast or have a cup of coffee, maybe go to the gym, get dressed, and eventually go to work. All the while you are mentally preparing yourself for your workday. If it takes an individual all these steps to prepare for their work role, therefore it is plausible that it may takes more than just walking through a door to get ready for the home life roles.
Roles in relationships take two people. Our roles in relationships have many purposes but two of the main focuses here are our interchanging roles of one person to be understanding and supportive and the other to follow through and be active. In relationships, couples flip flop between these two roles sometimes multiple times in a day. Problems arise when one person or both stop interacting in these roles. The lack of support can be hurtful to one partner who needs it while supporting a partner that does not follow through or lacks motivation can be equally detrimental to a relationship. There is a mutual juggling act that takes place within our relationships; they are in a continuous motion and they are not stagnating.
So how do our roles with in our relationships work to help balance out our social or professional roles? Basically, when you are heading home from work, actively prepare yourself for your roles at home, if something is distracting you talk about it with your spouse so that they understand where you are coming from and can be apart of the supporting role. Whatever way you find works best for you, use it, and make an effort to not bring your “work” home with you, play the active role in your relationship. Once you feel you have adequately adjusted to your home life role it is important to make sure your partner is also ready, they may need support too.
This brings me to my final point. Just because one member is used to being the supporting role in a relationship doesn’t mean that they are so strong that they don’t need support sometimes. Even if they don’t ask for it make sure you are also pulling your weight to be equally supportive and understanding. This also goes for those who are leading and challenging the demands placed on the relationship. Give them the opportunity to be supportive while you take on an active role in the relationship. Relationship are giving and taking, finding the right mixture and balance will help stabilize those who are struggling with their daily roles while maintaining a strong and supportive relationship.