(USA Today) - Just before Valentine’s Day, I received an email from my wife. Attached was my annual performance review as her husband:
- To aggressively address the need to be the model partner his spouse has so abundantly deserved during our 20-year marriage, but has so obviously yet to come close to getting.
- To better contribute as a go-to resource — emotionally, intellectually, financially and otherwise — preferably without having to invest in major luxury goods as gifts or resort to other cheap public relations ploys to endear himself.
- To stop feeling merely like a vendor, and also worrying his job could someday be outsourced.
- Demonstrated 11% more understanding and empathy toward spouse than last year, spearheading a program to spontaneously compliment her not only about her competencies as a mother but also her strange new hair color
- Met billability targets as near-breadwinner.
- Improved listening skills dramatically, except during either serious arguments or college basketball games on TV.
- Excelled in opening tightly clamped jars, killing rogue spiders, changing flat tires and reaching household items in high cabinets, often doing so on short notice.
- Regularly files grievances about having too little shelf space in the bathroom medicine cabinet, despite already occupying the 27% legal limit for males in most states.
- Nightly leaves crumbs from jalapeno-flavored tortilla chips strewn across bed sheets.
- Repeatedly multitasks during dinner, checking the overseas bond markets and placing online bets on college basketball games with funds borrowed from our Roth IRA.
- Still dominates use of the TV remote control and otherwise refuses to be truly collaborative, once even purchasing a $200 waffle-maker without going through the established approval process.
Meets expectations (but certainly never threatens to exceed any).
Bob continues to show potential as optimal husband material. Conceivably, he will survive in his current capacity. He rated marginally higher this year than last year on the standard compatibility algorithms as well as other key metrics. In short, he has tried hard to overcome his natural tendency to be a jerk. For example, he now initiates fewer disagreements and, better still, never succeeds in ending any. He has also agreed to implement an initiative to stop bad-mouthing me behind my back with his stupid friends on Thursday poker nights.
But clearly, Bob will have to be more proactive, particularly when it comes to decision-making and problem-solving behaviors, to earn a position in senior management. Listening to me talk for longer than two seconds remains for him still very much an unnatural act. He rarely seems to have a thought in his head that has the decency to stay in his mouth. And why he secretly funded opposition research against his own wife I’ll never fathom. In short, his limitations as a husband within our organization occasionally appear to be unlimited.
Recommended action steps
The year ahead will extend the probationary period begun on our wedding day. Accordingly, the following deliverables will take priority.
- Once and for all stop laughing out loud every time he sees the picture of me in my high school yearbook.
- Stop shrugging, scoffing and waving his hand dismissively at me when I plead with him to be more easygoing.
- Keep his big trap shut until I’m bloody well finished talking.
I signed the form, if reluctantly, and declined to take issue with any of it. But now’s my chance to restore balance in our relationship. I’m writing my annual performance review of her. Happy Valentine's Day, honey.
Bob Brody, an executive and essayist in New York City, is author of the memoir Playing Catch with Strangers: A Family Guy (Reluctantly) Comes of Age. Follow him on Twitter: @BobLBrody
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