Performance Review-For Your Spouse

On Friday morning I read Give Your Husband a Performance Review

Why limit year-end progress reports to the workplace?  in the Wall Street Journal (link below) with mild interest but I didn’t give it too much thought until later that day when my husband emailed me a copy of the article. “Well,” I thought, if he wants a performance review maybe I should give him one. There are certainly a host of things that came to mind when I started to think of behaviors that could use a little bit of fixing but hey, if I gave him a performance review does that mean he would be entitled to give me one? And, that’s when my thinking about this whole performance review started to shift.

My husband gets reviewed at work when a consultant might speak with people who work with him and then give him a written and/or a verbal report of those conversations.  I sometimes joke that I am the only one who is not given an opportunity to give the consultant feedback. In light of those conversations, when my husband saw this article he sent it to me because he thought I might be interested. As we started to discuss whether or not we should do “personal reviews” my first inclination was to say yes. The family started to warm to the idea.  “We’ll make a list of mom’s core competencies,” dad said and then we can review them. We can do reviews for the whole family came another idea. We should do three strengths and three “areas of improvement” for everyone was yet another idea.

The more the discussion continued the more I began to sour on the idea. I began to wonder, “Is there no safe haven anymore? Is there nowhere to go where in the words of the song, “everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came…”’ Isn’t this the very reason spouses are allowed to invoke privilege and not testify against each other in a court of law, because ultimately you want to know that someone’s got your back and that your dirty, ugly secrets are safe with someone; that within your marriage lies a small bastion of judgment free safety.

Home should be a place of affirmation where you can compose your narrative from a place of nurturing and understanding not a place of anticipated criticism. Life just shouldn’t be that much work. Do you think I don’t know I should do more of some things and less of others, more cooking, less Facebook perhaps…but I want to be with someone who loves me in spite of my million and one quirky, annoying characteristics and vice versa.

So, here’s our performance review honey: this is our home, a place where we both feel secure enough to be our truest selves, a place where some days there is too much bickering and too much sweating the small stuff but where most days there is love, support, shared wisdom, understanding and laughter.

So let’s do each other a favor and leave the real performance reviews where they belong.

At the office

Making Sense of the Senseless

Boston Marathon ExplosionA new vocabulary for a new age:

  1. Shelter-in-place
  2. Lock-down
  3. Pressure Cooker Bombs
  4. Self-Radicalized
  5. Terror

Evil visited Boston last week in the guise of two seemingly ordinary young men in black and white baseball caps. In fact, they seemed so ordinary, we didn’t even recognize that they meant us harm.  It brought to mind the term, “banality of evil” which was coined by Hannah Arendt with reference to Adolf Eichmann, and referred to the shocking ordinariness of Eichmann, a man responsible for the deaths of millions during WWII.  All we could do on Marathon Monday was shake our heads and wonder “why” and hope that if the answer to the “why” of it was revealed, somehow it would bring a measure of peace or at least understanding but, alas, it did no such thing. In fact, only questions remain, so many unanswered questions.

How do we make sense of a beautiful young girl who loved to dance and now faces the rest of her life with one leg? How do we make sense of a scrawny, misguided nineteen-year old boy who just tossed his life away in the most brutal fashion imaginable, and will inevitably wake up to that fact and wonder how he got where he is?  How much hate must a person carry with them to do a thing like this? How do we make sense of the randomness of people’s injuries?  Just being a few inches to one side or another meant the difference between death, loss of a limb or walking away without a scratch.  How does one function in a world filled with such disorder and chaos?

There are no answers so I’m choosing to find comfort as so many others have in this last week.  I choose to put my faith in the essential goodness of the human spirit. I’ll continue to watch and read about all of the amazing “helpers,” the regular citizens and the first responders who completely contra to human instinct ran toward the blast to help the wounded while others offered shelter, food, phones, hugs and anything else they could think of to stranded runners.  And, I’ll remember my personal history.   I am here only because seventy years ago there were other “helpers,” who hid my mother and grandmother on their attic for over a year at tremendous personal risk to themselves. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget how deep the reservoir of human goodness flows and although the evil-doers may have been ordinary, the kindness and generosity with which people responded  to their evil was simply and spectacularly extraordinary.

A new vocabulary for a new age:

  1. Helpers
  2. First Responders
  3. Resilience/Human Spirit
  4. Hope
  5. Love