In the past, this escalation has reached a point of bitter disagreement between Wendy and Steve, marked by a screaming argument and withdrawal from each other. Even now, like many longstanding couples, they constantly retrace old steps in more or less the same ritualized manner until it becomes a Möbius strip with no beginning or end. The difference now is that the force of the conflict has been greatly lessened by so much conscious review (as a result of some well-timed counseling), laced with a pinch of acceptance, some good humor and a strong desire on both of their parts to remain in their relationship. They have done their best, or worst, to change each other, and a few minimal changes have moved them closer together; but at the deepest levels, where anxiety rules, they have been forced to recognize each other’s irrational, outrageous humanness—and they accept it in one

Conflict regard careers often center on parental or community expectations that continue to have a powerful impact on one of the partner’s expectations regarding the other partner’s career. Sam, for instance, reports that he has always been “at odds” with Caroline’s family regarding his decision to pursue a career in church music (directing a church choir). The “rub” here seems to be that there is notoriously little money in such a career. Thus, a career in this field hardly holds any kind of “future” for those who pursue it. Sam reports that Caroline’s family is always after him (and they “bitch” at her a lot, too) for him to get a “real” job. Since Caroline’s family lives on the East Coast and Caroline and Sam live on the West Coast, they are easy to ignore as far as Sam is concerned.

The interviewer asked Caroline if she agreed with her family’s opinions about Sam’s career. She said (with a sense of resignation) that she wants Sam to be happy, but that she, too, would like to see him land a better paying job. Caroline mentioned that they have no savings and Sam has no sense of responsibility for money. He has ruined their credit rating by not making payments on time. They can’t get a major credit card, and financially have absolutely nothing to fall back on in the case of an emergency. She was quite ill at ease in talking about this. Sam validated the truth of Caroline’s statements, but did so with an attitude of indifference.

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About the Author

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant, professor in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 45 books, and president of a graduate school of psychology. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations. His graduate school (The Professional School of Psychology: offers Master and Doctoral degrees in both clinical and organizational psychology to mature, accomplished adults.

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