Project Management

Advice for the IT consultant's significant other

Chip Camden advises IT consultants to watch out if their relationship with their significant other isn't based on mutual support.

Back in 2001, Gerry McLaughlin posted a list of tips for wives of contractors. Some of these may be a bit tongue-in-cheek, but as Chaucer and others have noted, sometimes the truth is best expressed in jest. Even though the list is specifically addressed to "wives," most of its principles could also apply to husbands or any other significant relationship with a shared household income and responsibilities.

Many of the items in McLaughlin's list deal with the situation in which the contractor is looking for work, and the spouse feels compelled to crack the whip to keep the contractor motivated. Anyone who has been on the receiving end of that whip can tell you that it is anything but motivating. In fact, it's a symptom of an unhealthy relationship in which the spouse does not trust the contractor to be responsible, and therefore assumes the role of a parent to a wayward child. These sorts of relationship issues will infect far more than your consulting career. If you're experiencing similar treatment, you need to address it more broadly than this list of dos and don'ts.

Perhaps the most telling item in the list is the final one:

Lastly, women imagine that if they lower a man's self-esteem then he won't have the confidence or self-belief to stray with another woman. The opposite will be the case. It will be such a relief to talk to someone of the opposite sex who makes him feel good and wanted again, and who doesn't give him the grief that you do.

Here's one item that TechRepublic member Bob Eisenhardt (reisen55) said he would add to the list:

Please understand that sending me a check is not my clients' number one priority. It isn't a slight against you or me if they're late. I'll take care of gently reminding them.

Ultimately, a relationship is about finding mutual meaning and support. If that isn't happening, or isn't going in both directions, watch out!

What do you think about this list? What would you add to it?

Thanks to Bob Eisenhardt for the link.


Chip Camden has been programming since 1978, and he's still not done. An independent consultant since 1991, Chip specializes in software development tools, languages, and migration to new technology. Besides writing for TechRepublic's IT Consultant b...


Share the load, share the benefits. Is it a greater benefit to be IN this relationship than NOT? Whether a spousal relationship or business, some parties talk a mean game, but it's only words. Players are about words, not deeds - they're interested only in taking the benefits. In a healthy relationship it's about deeds, not words.


Chip, Great posting, I can only add that it should apply to almost any high performance position. A relationship is about mutual support, not a one way road (funnel relationship). If anyone male/female is on a relationship (personal, business, employment, anything) where they are not appreciated, encouraged to be their best, or they are put down it's time to walk out. Life is too short to waste on/with negative people. If you can't afford to walk away (many people stay married or at their jobs because of financial reasons) just remember that you had a job/relationship before this one and that there are options out there. I don't encourage to cheat, but to be honest with yourself, anyone may have a bad day, but several weeks, months, or years of bad days are not worth it.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

It seems to presume that the contractor is male, with a nagging female partner. Can you draw any wisdom from it, even with its somewhat narrow view? Would anyone care to write a counter list?

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