by Elliott Kronenfeld

We work hard to get the job.  We interview as best we can.  We get the job.  But, how often do we really get a good job description.  I am talking about the job of partner, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, significant other, husband, wife.  More people sit in my office and say things like “S/he is just never happy…no matter what I do!” or “S/he keeps pushing me away and I don’t know why!”

For those folks that know how to apply for the job and get through the interview process (dating), many are often stumped when it comes to doing the actual job and then get upset when they get a bad performance review.  I am a strong advocate for couples counseling when things are going well.  It is the time when there is enough resiliency in the couple to have complex discussions about expectations, how to remove assumptions and explore areas of the relationship that might be intimidating during times of duress.  This is called getting the job description.

An important part of understanding the job description is figuring out what your role is and how it changes.  You will play many roles for different aspects of your life together.  For example, when it comes to health care — what does your partner expect from you and what are you trying to do?  There are three core roles when it comes to health care:

1.  Care giver.  The care giver does just that — gives care. It is the person who does your laundry, cooks your meals, ensures you get your medicine, gets you to your appointments, etc.  “Sweetheart, let me do that for you.”

2.  Care manager.  A care manager does not do the day to day caregiving for you, but helps to set an expectation, create a plan and checks in to ensure that the plan is being followed.  “Honey, did you eat lunch today?

3. Care plan participant.  As part of the care plan, you need to know what is going on, understand diagnosis, prescriptions, etc., but having knowledge is your role.  If an emergency arises you can assist in sharing that information with critical care givers.  “Just so you know….”

As you can imagine, these roles shift and change over time and you may play elements from more than one.  The best way to truly understand what your role should be is to have an open discussion with your partner about what job they are offering and what job you are willing to do.

If you are looking to bring more clarity to your relationship, contact Elliott at

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