To quote an old saying, "behind every great man is a good woman." As women have moved into the workforce and women are now surpassing men for starting new businesses, many women have stepped out of the shadows to stand beside or in some cases, in front of their men into an ambitious, achiever position.
Remember the popularity and hilarity of the movie Mr. Mom in the 80s? It's not as unusual today for women to be either the primary breadwinner in the family or to have a more prominent career. But is it really that acceptable for both partners? What happens when you are a highly ambitious woman married to a less ambitious man? Or what if you are a man married to one of these over-achieving women? A marriage between these two can be a blissful balance or a recipe for a devastating divorce.
As our society has shifted the roles of men and women, only a prophet could predict how this would affect marriages and families. The businesswoman of the 90s is often seen as power-hungry, driven and highly stressed while her less-ambitious husband is often perceived as lazy and unsupportive. But these are just stereotypes. There's more here than meets the eye.
Being a highly ambitious woman married to a less-ambitious man myself, I found this to be an intriguing subject. In preparation for this article, a survey was conducted of 44 women and 7 men who were either still in or had been in a relationship where the wife was highly ambitious and the husband less ambitious. The chart below gives a breakdown of their marital situations:
To fully understand this relationship type, we'll look at the typical personalities of each partner and then discover ways that balance, harmony, and happiness can be achieved instead of unhappiness and divorce.
The highly ambitious woman is generally exciting, enthusiastic, and full of life. She works hard and is an over-achiever. She's your typical "Super-Mom," entrepreneur or corporate executive. She enjoys leadership positions and might even be considered bossy or controlling.
She has high energy levels and often has a low tolerance for people who can't keep up with her pace. She is generally creative and full of ideas. She thrives on responsibility and stress, but tends to take on more than she can handle. She feeds on intelligent, thought-provoking communication. Her greatest desire is to be loved, appreciated, and acknowledged for all she is able to accomplish.
He is relaxed, easy-going. He's generally happy with the way things are going in his life and career. He knows how to enjoy life and take time to relax. Entertainment and relaxation is a big priority in his life.
Generally, he is loyal and devoted to his mate. He can usually be characterized as a family man who is not driven by money, power, ambition or the desire to "get ahead." He's typically loving and affectionate--especially when he feels appreciated and loved for who he is and not for what he accomplishes.
Both of these individuals have their strengths and weaknesses. Combine them, and you can achieve a beautifully balanced marriage or a recipe for divorce.
When a highly ambitious woman is married to a not-so-ambitious man, they can find a harmonious balance. The secret is in emphasizing the strengths of your partner and being willing to give the other person what they crave. A couple is like two pieces of a puzzle: different yet they fit together.
If you make promises to do things with your husband and children, keep them. Don't let work or business opportunities pre-empt prior family commitments.
You may not be able to be that man financially, but there are other ways you can bear some of the responsibilities. You can do things like help her with the children, give her a back rub when she's up late working on the computer, or take the initiative to make plans for a weekend getaway. Sweep her off her feet every now and then.
Whatever you do, do something today to start working on your marriage. And continue to work on it throughout your life. No marriage is easy, but this marriage combination, with a little creativity and devotion, can yield wonderful rewards.
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