I have been dating an auto mechanic for more than a year now, and we are talking marriage. My friends think I am absolutely nuts even to date this guy; our backgrounds are so different. What do you think?
Many professional women seek professional men who are their equals in education, income, and status. Yet, others find themselves attracted to men who have little or no education and meager earning power.
I interviewed 16 white-collar, professional women (three of whom are dentists) who married blue-collar men for my new book, “Rings Around the Collar.” Several of the marriages were dissolved, and others are thriving. What makes the difference? Four themes run through their stories and, not surprising, they are relevant to any marriage. These themes of power, partnership, communication, and commitment can make or break a relationship.
Some women are unable to stand in their own power, and this leads to cracks in their marriages. These women disown their power and allow their men to have full control. They devalue themselves and what they bring to the relationship.
Even a woman who earns a substantial income can feel unworthy and unable to garner the respect she deserves. This even happens in dental offices when the dentist is unable to be the leader. She has difficulty being the owner-visionary of her practice. She cowers to those more powerful than she, be they employees or even patients, and this creates stress and discontent in her life.
Marital relationships become more fulfilling when each spouse is secure in his or her individuality and the marriage is a partnership. It’s not a matter of who makes more money, who wears the white coat, who has more education, or a matter of yours and mine. In a partnership, it is “ours.”
Additionally, you must freely express your thoughts and feelings to your spouse and be heard by him. Harsh, demeaning, and even no words can be destructive. Furthermore, Gestures, eye contact, body language, posture, and facial expressions speak louder than words on many occasions.
Poor communication skills can doom a marriage. Come to think of it, they can also play havoc with the strength of your dental practice.
When your marriage is fulfilling and the practice is strong, life is good. But, what happens when the down times occur in the marriage? They will, you know. What happens is up to the couple. Will your commitment to each other and the marriage carry you through the rough spots? Is there even a commitment? Or will circumstances shatter the vows and lead to divorce?
The women featured in “Rings Around the Collar” opened their marriages so that others could look inside. In her foreword, Linda Miles of www.dentalmanagementU.com, writes, “Dr. Stephanie Houseman brings to life the good, the bad, and the ugly of these unbalanced relationships. This book will become the gift women give others in their family and circle of friends. It will touch the hearts of those who have suffered the same challenges with the men in their lives and it will perhaps help women who are thinking they can work through these issues avoid the pit-falls of the women who have graciously shared their experiences.”
The color of the collar does not make a marriage successful. There is a person wearing that collar, and therein lies the answer to your question.
P.S. Share your story and connect with other white-collar women at the Web site. You may also order the book at www.ringsaroundthecollar .com.
© 2007 Stephanie Houseman, DMD
Stephanie Houseman, DMD
Dr. Houseman practiced dentistry in St. Louis for 25 years. She is married to a dentist, has two grown children, and understands all too well the demands we place on ourselves. She now works with dentists who want to simplify their lives so that they can enjoy themselves again. She is a graduate of the Coaches Training Institute, creator of the 7 Steps 2 A Balanced Life Program™, and author of “The Balance Beam,” a weekly e-newsletter about balance and life. Reach Dr. Houseman at www.7steps2abalancedlife.com or (618) 639-5433.