What am I missing? Spouse stress and my stress. And thank you!


First– the customer service with fast email replies and encouragement is stellar. Next– I’m learning so many new skills here. Taking SCS leading into October’s LCS coach training is a great sequence. Lastly, the first August coaching call was chock full of helpful pointers. I could see myself in so many of the situations presented. The angst over and approach to which career path to commit to, getting tenure and her boyfriend leaving, overlap with completely different life dilemmas. Thank you to the volunteers for stepping up despite feeling nervous. You all helped me tremendously. I echo another poster’s sentiment that I loved hearing the “Brooke Castillo– I’ve got real shit to get done. This is serious.” I can picture my most nerdy, uptight self, pants pulled up high, shirt tucked in, pushing up glasses slipping down my nose and saying that. Hilarious.

Next, my issue I want the flashlight of coaching on. I have stress when my spouse gets stressed.

Background: My guy was a long time ICU nurse and now is our primary stay at home parent, while I work outside the home. Before retiring his position, we discussed the change at length and deliberately & enthusiastically chose it for many reasons: my work takes me away from home unpredictably, childcare is easier with one fully available parent and my job brings higher $/time spent.

I feel incredibly lucky with him doing this. He is really good at being the stay at home parent. A great cook, detail oriented with home maintenance (if I were the stay at home parent ,things like the irrigation system and gutters would NOT be on my radar), a fun/kind/loving dad and my biggest cheerleader. His inherent strengths include being highly responsible, very analytical, a natural problem solver and empathetic. He is so good and very easy to love. However, this role shift has been a challenge for him: he shares that while he appreciates that we live in a progressive community with many stay at home male parents, he feels sheepish around other men who aren’t stay at home dads. He feels like he doesn’t contribute to our family enough. Like he doesn’t accomplish enough during the day. Like he never has anything to show for his efforts. Not punching a time clock, not getting a pay check, he voices worry about spending “my” money and makes comments like, “I’m not doing anything to make money…. you do all the work, you do so much, I didn’t accomplish shit today.” (Even though he actually did accomplish a ton). I am a big cheerleader for him-I want him to know I think he rocks it out, the money we have is our money, our paycheck, it’s Team-us and I voice how fortunate we are that he’s willing to stay home. He struggles with the theme of “I’m not enough, others are better than me”, with a rather fixed mindset, and a propensity to wallow in worry and beat himself up. He and I have talked about ALL of this- so nothing snarky here.

My struggle is how to manage my mind when I see him struggling. I’m working on some turnarounds/models and know deep down that the best advice is from uncovering my own insight- but I’d like some pointers on what I’m missing, what I’m not investigating and what a different set of thoughts/questions could look like.

C: SAHD, who says, I don’t contribute, you do all the work, I don’t make any money.
T: He contributes more than he realizes. Why can’t he see this? I wish it weren’t such a persistent struggle for him to see himself the way I see him. I’m so lucky he does so much. I wish he weren’t so deflated. Why does this keep coming up?
F: Bummed, sad, worried. Annoyed. Out of control. Nervous.
A: Ask him questions about how he feels, have conversations about what we can change. Talk talk talk. Try to reassure, encourage, give perspective.
R: We temporarily feel at ease, enthusiastic, like a team, until the next time it comes up. I perseverate, worry and start looping.

C: same
T: His struggle is his own and it’s not mine to fix, even though I want to. My job is just to love him. I’m learning how not to be a desperate problem solver. This problem will come up as many times as it needs to; my own discontent is just a transient feeling.
F: Loving. Patient. Calm.
A: Tell him- I love you, we are a team and I’m so lucky to have such a caring partner in crime. (And then let it be without all the angsty conversation.)
R: I’m supportive of his struggle without trying to control his feelings. I’m willing to be with this as many times as it comes up. I’m less worried, annoyed and stressed.