Arlene and Kevin have decided not to have children. Child-rearing does not seem to relate to either of their emerging set of priorities. The prospect of children “just doesn’t seem right” to them. They mentioned that the financial and personal obligations of child–rearing are too great for them to handle. There is also a concern that there are too many people in the world already and that they should not contribute to the problem. Arlene is not sure that they will ever be ready for children. She acknowledges that parenthood is the ultimate responsibility and wonders about the possibility of making a mistake in raising a child. She says that
her parents gave it their best, but maybe that’s not good enough.

Wendy and Steve resemble Arlene and Kevin in that they too are struggling over the priorities they should assign to their careers and to other aspects of their lives, including their relationship with one another. In the case of Wendy and Steve, however, there is a major age difference which contributes to the problem of finding mutually agreeable priorities. Wendy is a hard-working career-oriented person who, while feeling secure about her ability to survive, has reached an age when she wishes to accomplish something of lasting worth in her life. She has created a nonprofit organization offering weekend recreational activities for children. Steve is ten years younger than Wendy and feels much less secure about life. He is unable as yet to find his way past early anxieties regarding his ability to find and hold a good job. He is still far too worried about his personal survival and far too dependent on Wendy for home and nurturance. This conflict, a repetition of his early life, is yet to be resolved. As Steve says: “everything could fall apart at any time.”

The very motherliness that Wendy uses so well to keep the relationship together has been used to try and force Steve into being more active. Striving to retain his own sense of independent self-worth, Steve has countered by saying that Wendy is too busy to be a good companion. Wendy escalates the conflict by implying that Steve is lazy. He could do more around the house or in his efforts to find work. Steve counters by declaring that Wendy is a workaholic. Wendy says that Steve doesn’t care about his future, and she worries that he won’t share their household expenses. The conflict goes on and on.

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About the Author

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. 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.

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