The older we get, the more assertive we have to be, though like everything else, it can be easier said than done.
No one likes being treated like a doormat but if you once let people get away with it, they will continue their master-slave relationship with you, no matter your age. So what do you do, especially if you’re one of the thousands (millions?) who don’t like confrontation?
On the Home Front
When your spouse wants the home spotless and you’re already ill or run ragged, present him or her with the following options (but you can stop laughing):
- Start helping with the chores.
- Stop complaining.
- Go find a retirement job.
- Find room in the budget for, and time to supervise, paid help.
If the person responds with anger and sarcasm or worse, you have a huge problem that’s going to need professional help of some kind, be it a psychiatrist, other medical doctor, or a lawyer, or all of the above. Counseling? Not usually helpful but it works for some.
If you’re still young enough to be victimized, a mother-in-law may be a bigger source of friction than an ex-wife, depending on the circumstances. And both “ex” and current wife and hubby will eventually move away from MIL, just to get away from the interference. Then the long-distance harassment starts. If you didn’t have migraines before, you will now.
When MIL is ragging on the new wife to get a job so her precious son can pay more child support, that’s when you have to assert yourself and tell it like it is:
- The child support check is priority #1 and is written first every month, whether you can afford it or not. What the “ex” does with the money is beyond your husband’s control. And if it’s priority #2, don’t even tell MIL. That will make an ugly situation even worse. The absolute fact is it is always paid in full every month and everything else is MYOB.
- Taking on your husband’s child support obligation was never part of the prenuptial discussions between the two of you. It was not even hinted at.
- You are sick as a dog three days a week every week and exhausted the other four. No one will hire you. And you don’t have transportation anyway.
- It is none of your MIL’s business.
FIL will likely remain silent even if he agrees with his wife. I can almost guarantee you will have to stop answering the phone, if you expect to have any days free of illness in a family that truly dislikes you.
Employer telling you to do things that make no sense? Just try to deviate in the slightest little bit from what they want. That’s when you’re smacked down like a housefly. Making bizarre decisions will never change as long as there are corporations in the world, and that includes non-profits.
- How much do I need the job?
- Is it just a frustrated middle manager wearing boots she can’t fill?
- Is it an OCD with the power to make your life miserable?
- Someone who needs to be taken down a peg or two?
- A person who will eventually fall flat on his face from the weight of his own anal retentive behavior?
Be careful how you push back but you DO have the right to stand up for yourself and the way you do things. And in a supposedly “open door” environment, you can go over the person’s head if necessary. Just don’t expect miracles. Sometimes higher management is the actual problem, especially if they come from a different background than everyone else in the entire department. At other times their “outsider” view can see clearly what’s causing so much employee unhappiness.
Now and then a shot of Luddite action or even passive-aggressive behavior can give you satisfaction. Just don’t assert yourself by doing something so totally stupid it brings state or Federal regulators down on the company. That can backfire so badly you’ll never know what hit you. Better to be quietly looking for other employment if events are sliding toward intolerable.
Church and Charity Groups
I won’t say much about these amazing organizations as anyone who has been on the wrong side of a volunteer leader already knows that things can get hostile. Just because you signed on for the work they do doesn’t mean you’re always available. And heaven forbid you should have a mostly invisible illness that they don’t understand and don’t believe you have!
The reality is that people inside a church or other charity are no different than those on the outside. They might have given up some pretty bad habits for a far better life, but if they were crabby as a child or young adult, they will not soften that much. The Gospel of our Savior can only carry us so far. The rest is up to the repentant individual to change a smug or arrogant attitude. We are each responsible for our own decisions, whether we have a spiritual life or not.
Doctors and Hospitals
Aggravation of all aggravations is dealing with medical professionals who think you’re doing just fine “for your age”. We each know our bodies better than anyone else and when we’re sick, we know it. If our body temperature has been 97.6 F. or lower most of our lives (often due to thyroid problems), a reading of 98.anything is pretty much a sign of at least a low-grade fever, temporary or otherwise. Not to mention chronic fatigue, daily nausea and other trials.
When a doctor won’t run blood tests mid-year or every quarter, then you assert yourself and go get them from a reliable mobile unit, if you have to. Even when you have to pay for them yourself, find a different doctor.
When even one test result is alarming, then you stay with the new doctor or take results back to your primary care provider, if you have to. Several bad results should raise multiple red flags for you. You may find out you’ve been on the wrong drug or the wrong dosage of it for two years, a potentially deadly scenario or one that can have other extremely serious consequences.
Sometimes we just have to be assertive!