updates: the fundraising husband, the egg freezing, and more

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager! Here are three updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

1. My husband keeps contacting my coworkers about funding his nonprofit

First things first, it took 4 months (thanks Kaiser) but I FOUND A THERAPIST! He is great and it’s helping a lot.

It’s kind of crazy that it’s been a year since all this started. I have two flavors of update, I guess. The first is the original issue with his project and my job has mostly resolved itself through the sheer immovability of government. After getting similar answers and (and non answers) from similar agencies my husband started to understand that what he was proposing was universally unworkable for a large number of potential partners. He also stopped blaming me for stonewalling him. With COVID the whole thing is on hold now anyway. I don’t think the future of nonprofit funding is going to be very bright. Thank God, I still have my job and am working full time from home, which has been AMAZING. He has thrown himself into his main job, managing a large estate, and we are actually doing really well in quarantine.

The second flavor of update is more relationship focused. This year allowed us to really dig deep into the communication challenges we have and the different ways we approach ideas. My husband is a top level idea guy, but he really can’t follow through on anything but the most compelling of ideas. I think a lot of the things he said were just ideas he was unconsciously batting around, but I took them at face value. We’re both trying to be more aware of that communication style, and that helps us have more productive conversations.

We also experienced a different major trust issue that forced us to confront the effects of the past year. We both violated the other’s trust in different ways. When you have to work through stuff like that, it tends to result in a greater sense of compassion for the other person, and that happened with us. He apologized thoroughly for violating my boundaries, as well as the other stuff. We are great partners in every other sense, which makes it easier to work through these things. All in all, I realize that life is gobs better with than without him, which is a pretty important core principle for a relationship.

I think that some of these rules apply in working relationships too – trust the other person until they give you a reason not to. Apologize for things that are your fault. Appreciate others’ working and communication styles until they give you trouble. Have compassion for the people who give you trouble. Be aware of your own shortcomings.

Anyway – always happy to keep in touch if you and your readers are interested. Thank you – working through this on your forum has been a part of the healing process and your perspective, and just feeling HEARD by someone, was really a big deal.

2. Freezing my eggs and work (#5 at the link)

I met with my boss and started by using the script you shared. Before I could finish, he waved his hand to indicate everything was fine and I didn’t need to share more detail. Thanks for your help – it was really helpful to have the words handy and to have the reassurance as well. I’m pleased to report the procedure went well, and that I was also promoted!

3. The employee I just promoted to manager wants to step down

I’m the manager of the new manager who was considering stepping down over impostor syndrome.

Thank you for your advice and thank you to all the commenters. Your response and the responses in the comments drove home two really important points to me: 1., that moving from individual contributor to manager requires a big shift in your definition of success and I hadn’t really prepared her for that and 2., that I was trying to convince her she was wrong rather than just listening to her concerns so I could address how she actually felt about things. (She was wrong, but I wasn’t going to talk her out of her feelings, so I needed to hear her out.)

The anonymous reviews were being done at the same time she came to me saying she wanted to step down, so I hadn’t yet given those to her when I initially wrote you. She and I had several conversations to talk through those and to talk about what specifically was making her feel she wasn’t doing well. We set up regular meetings to just talk about how she was coping with management and how she was feeling about her role, separate from our meetings about regular work topics. I shared a book that I thought would really help her, signed her up for an online “impostor syndrome cleanse” and I shared a few of my major fail stories from my first year as a manager so she could see that learning from failure is a big part of growing into your manager role.

After a few weeks of intense discussion, she agreed that she’d stick it out for at least six months before making a decision. That was November. It’s now almost May and she’s still in her role and still doing great. She still has issues with feeling like she should be doing more, so we continue to have regular talks about measuring success and having reasonable expectations of herself, but she says she feels better about her future and isn’t planning to step down any time soon.

Thank you and the commenters, again, for your advice and perspective. You helped a great manager stay in her role and you helped me learn what I need to be doing to better prepare others I promote in the future for what their new role will look like and how it changes things for them.

{ 28 comments… read them below }

  1. Susie Q*

    OP #1: you clearly know your husband better than we do. But I have to admit that you are a bigger person than I am because your husband’s behaviors would have been a major dealbreaker for me. I really hope he apologized for potentially ruining your job. Because it sounds like he just gave up because government is too hard without recognizing the huge mistakes that he made.

    1. Budgie Buddy*

      OP 1’s update also made me think that the topic they wrote in on is just one small part of a whole cluster of life/relationship issues that they are still very much in the middle of. :/ Glad they are doing ok during the pandemic at least and have found a good therapist.

      Paragraph 4 makes me think any third update will be a doozy.

    2. Snoopy*


      “We both violated the other’s trust in different ways. When you have to work through stuff like that, it tends to result in a greater sense of compassion for the other person, and that happened with us.”

      I’m glad that happened for the OP, but it seems a bit off to me. Good to hear that the husband apologised thoroughly though!

    1. OP3*

      It’s a free online 5-day thing I found. I’m not sure what the rules are about sharing links here so I won’t post it, but if you google “5 day impostor syndrome cleanse” it’s the first link for me. It’s geared toward women but I imagine it would be helpful for men, too.

        1. Emmeileia*

          It would be nice if imposter syndrome could be cleansed out the bottom with a little cayenne and maple.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        You can share links. The comment goes into moderation so Alison can filter out the spam.

        My first link for that comes up with an article by Camille Styles.

          1. Liz St. Jean*

            Hi all! Thank you so much to the OP for sharing my cleanse

            Here’s an updated link – themintambition.com

            PS I’ll consider adding a dash of cayenne to the next version lol

    2. babblemouth*

      OP3, I would like a link/ reference for that please! I realised recently this is massively hindering me in my career and I’d like to use the extra time I have from decrease of work to address it.

      1. OP3*

        The link is above – Liz St Jean, who designed the cleanse I did with my employee, commented with the info.

  2. Red Stapler*

    OP3, what’s the name of the book? Or, if anybody has book suggestions, I would welcome those as well. Thanks.

    1. OP3*

      The book is “Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (Almost) Everything Wrong” by Kristen Hadeed. I saw it on this site but I don’t recall if it was one of Alison’s recommendations or if a commenter suggested it.

  3. Threeve*

    #2: I’m always thrilled by a manager who can casually communicate “you’re an adult, I’m not an ass, we don’t have to talk about it.”

    My boss, who is lovely, is always way too intense with the Making Sure Everything’s Okay and You Know I Support You.

    Congratulations on the successful procedure and promotion!

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I love how this ended up being such a non-issue. OP’s boss trusts her and it shows.

    2. Casper Lives*

      This was my favorite update. It was lovely, everyone acted maturely, and it was tied up with a bow at the end.

  4. A Penny for Your Idea!*

    #3 reminded me that the other side of Dunning-Kruger syndrome is that people who really are skilled typically don’t think they are. I bet she’s a really great manager!

  5. Amy Sly*

    Re LW1: Yeah, with folks like that, sometimes you just have to determine “is he talking to me to have a conversation, or is he talking to me because I’m the closest rubber duck*?”

    Rubber duck debugging — “The name is a reference to a story in the book The Pragmatic Programmer in which a programmer would carry around a rubber duck and debug their code by forcing themselves to explain it, line-by-line, to the duck.”

    1. misspiggy*

      That is excellent, thank you. As a home-based freelancer I often have to use my husband as a rubber duck, and now I can tell him when I’d like him to be one!

      1. Amy Sly*

        Yeah. And that can short-circuit the “I don’t want you to fix my problem” disagreement. Just be straightforward that “I don’t expect you to understand it so much as I’m just trying to figure it out outloud for myself.”

    2. Dancing Otter*

      I love the rubber duck idea!
      I’ve always believed that you don’t really understand something, be it a concept or a process, until you can teach it to someone else. But that requires someone else to whom you can try to teach it.

Comments are closed.