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Dr. Helen

The Upside of Marrying “Down”

April 19th, 2014 - 2:19 pm

I saw this article in the WSJ (via Instapundit) written by Sonya Rhodes, author of a new book The Alpha Woman Meets Her Match: How Today’s Strong Women Can Find Love and Happiness Without Settling. From the article:

Today, a successful single woman who falls for a man making less money than she does or not sharing her career ambition may face not-so-subtle disapproval from friends and family. One patient of mine reported being told, “I’m surprised you haven’t found someone who is more your equal.” Another felt insulted when a trusted friend asked, “Are you sure you wouldn’t be happier with a man who is making more money than you?”

These women were in love with solid, supportive guys who shared their values—men who weren’t driven by money. They dreaded the concerned whispers from friends or family who persisted in believing that they were “marrying down.”….

For most strong, successful women, the alpha male of old isn’t the best match. I have seen in my practice what happens when two dominant personalities engage in power struggles: The alpha male will assume that his priorities should dominate, while the alpha woman will assert hers. These are the most difficult duos to treat.

Over the past 30 years, says Stephanie Coontz, director of public education at the Council on Contemporary Families at the University of Chicago, “egalitarian values have become increasingly important to relationship success.” Confident, dominant women need collaborative partners more than they need traditional breadwinners. They need men who aren’t threatened by their strength and will support their goals.

So, they say that dominant women need “collaborative” men, those men who think that the wife’s priorities should dominate. Would they say the same about a traditional man? What if he wants his priorities to dominate? He is most likely called a jerk, domineering or abusive whereas a dominant woman has “strength and confidence.” Hmmm.

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All Comments   (21)
All Comments   (21)
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Two Alphas never work, two alpha/betas, XX & XYs can but it is very tough. Compromise is not a gender specific trait. But living life without a women in it is something I do not want. The cost can be both excessive and fulfilling, worth-wild. Feminists are not the enemy, ignorance, rigidity and stupidity are. My opinion.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Post Test
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
What is never discussed is how too many women in the workforce drive down wages for everyone. It is simple supply and demand. In the 1960's, when few women worked outside the home, the supply of available workers was low so employers had to compete for workers by paying living wages. Once women entered the workforce, the labor supply went up by 100% and thus wages went down across the board. I'm one of those few males who has a Bachelor's degree. I also have a paralegal degree, teaching certification in 2 states, and abundant work experience. In 20 years, I have never been able to find professional work that PAID A LIVING WAGE. I have had to support myself breaking my back doing manual blue-collar labor. Why? Because there are always females who will do the same work for next to nothing. Even though I was always the top student who earned a perfect 4.0 in college, why would any employer hire me when they can hire an "adequate" female employee at half the price? The real insult is these contemporary women have been fed liberal lies that men make $1.00 to every 77 cents they make, so they EXPECT every man to be making tons of money and to still be able to support them like in decades past. These women can't understand why educated guys like me don't have all this money to give them. Modern women never consider that their being in the workforce is exactly the reason WHY guys don't have money and can't support them. Of course, after being fed the "1 dollar to every 77 cents" lie, the women all assume that guys with a blue-collar job must be lazy or jerks or just won't commit. They whine and cry that they can't find a "good guy" to support them or start a family with. Sorry sister, but you did it to yourself.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
They are definitely trying hard (see, e.g., Sandberg, Coontz) to shill the beta as a necessary adjunct to the feminist agenda. I foresee the proverbial result of intensive marketing of an undesirable product: "the dogs don't like it."
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
By the bye, that women fail to find approval by their social circle of their choices is a very big deal. Women are much more driven than men are by social approval and validation of their choices than men are. They also tend to project and explain their choices by reference to social (dis)approval. So that "not-so-subtle disapproval" from friends and family should be a big red flag.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Some people who chase status as a thing unto itself do so because they are suseptible to what others think of them. And for whatever reasons, it's easier for them to play the status game than it is to not give a duece about what other people think. And people with a cartoonish sense of power think of such types of people as "strong," while they think of people who focus on their own happiness over chasing status as "weak."

But if your hapiness is bottlenecked by what others seem to think of you, you can't really be all that strong.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't see how this approach (alpha woman with supportive man) differs from the one where the confident, dominant, alpha male finds a supportive Suzie Homemaker wife. That's the model followed by half the male politicians and CEOs. That's also the model with a very high divorce rate.

Many marriages that feature bread-winning women and stay at home or part-time working men occur among blacks. Black women with higher education vastly outnumber higher educated black men. These professional women marry supportive men who perform the traditional homemaker and child-raiser roles. These mean also do minor car repairs, home repairs, remodeling, etc. This type of marriage seems to work at least as well as any other.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Statistically, marriages where wives make more money than husbands are more likely to end in divorce then the other way around.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Statistically, one half of people have IQs below 100. Does that mean I should assume that you are one of them.

Statistically, 80% of adults don't smoke. Should I assume there are no smokers?

The subset I describe is small. Its success will be buried under ten times as many failures and fail to significantly change the statistics. That doesn't mean the success isn't real.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
TMG is right; MinigoV is wrong. The higher the wife's share of household income, the greater likelihood of divorce. This is true even in "egalitarian" Sweden:

http://wigan-ojs.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/csp/article/view/15973
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Recent studies show that:

1. "Egalitarian" couples have less sex than traditional couples.

2. Marriages where the woman makes more $ than the man are more likely to result in divorce than the other way around.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Whether they divorce or not, most marriages I have seen where the man stays home (read: leeches off the woman if there are not small children), the woman doesn't have much respect for him and that comes out more and more as the years go by.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I believe it.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
A man who whined to a therapist that his friends didn't approve of his choice of a wife would not be considered 'confident, dominant ... alpha'. Now would he. So that's Fail #1.

Fail #2 is the writer fails to discuss the normal sexual behavior of women, which is not to be dominant. The most 'alpha' of women are seeking the most alpha of men. This is a family blog so we'll it there for now.

Fail #3 is TexasFun's point: the writer probably thinks that some woman with a Ph.D in Education, who is a school superintendent making $192K, is more "confident, dominant ... alpha" than the guy with a high school education driving a $60K SuperDuty to four job sites each morning at 6 a.m. This is just as naive as Fail #2, but adds a layer of bourgeois contempt for labor to her contempt for male interests.

Fail #4. So far, the only sort of guy who will be collaborative with our faux-alpha female archetype is a real house husband, a mythic creature with gentle fat rolls around his middle, a love of diaper changing, and the good sense to shut up when faux-alpha female comes home from the cubicle wars, redolent with tales of faux-alpha successes. Now, while these men exist in Womyn's Studies classes at Oberlin, and no doubt they exist somewhere, two questions: a) have you ever met one? b) have you ever met one a 'confident, dominant ... alpha' woman was sexually attracted to?

I'm just trying to think of the 'quiet, laundry soaking, collaborative' male archetype that so obviously dominates our popular culture, and specifically, our romance novel industry, for this is where we go to discover what women really want. Somehow this is a movie that Steve McQueen never made, and the sequel to 50 Shades that didn't quite get through editing.

Fail #5 is my own. Maybe there is a significant population of men and women out there for whom sexual attraction and activity is irrelevant to life success. Sort of a heterosexual grass-eaters community, who for some reason decided that their disinterest in the opposite sex should be codified in 'marriage.' Maybe this community is the one the article's writer understands, and I don't. And maybe there are unicorns, too.


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18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
A good friend is a well paid Ivy lawyer. Her husband runs a framing and interior finish out business. He made a lot less than she did their first year of marriage. Now he makes double six figures and has 30 employees. He is well on his way either to a buyout north of two million or growing the firm to ten times its size. While she may be book smarter than he is, he is clearly the made man in the relationship. She is pregnant and plans to quit work when the child is born.

Many blue collar men make six figures after ten years of work. That is a great income and the men have huge responsibilities, ie operating a refinery, welding oil pipelines, and maintaining aircraft. Marrying a man with a good job no matter what it is is not "marrying down."

One BIG issue I do see in all of this is how VERY HARD it is for some women (and men) to adjust to being stay at home moms.

My wife quit the c-levels to raise our kids - our son in particular needed her help for years - and it took her almost two years to adjust. She went from big shot getting lots of attention with everyone at her beck and call to just another mom. The power imbalance in our relationship when she moved home was also a big issue for both of us. One of the things that brought us together was the constant discussion of work and leadership challenges while both of us moved up the ladder. And she had her own substantial income and her own bank account. Both ended when she stayed home. Stuff that we did together before like dishes and housework she tried to take over as hers. "Yeah! Another load of laundry!" would be her battle cry every morning, rather than negotiating a 50 million dollar line of credit.

And many of my male co workers talk about the 1-3 years of difficult adjustment for their wives as well. Many go through a period of depression or withdrawal before finding their way.

From what I see most men are innately driven to succeed and marriage seems to turn that up a notch - even more so in men who are not necessarily dominant. Most women I know once their husbands reach a certain income level, will want to stay home and play mom.

I think the adjustment to being a SAHM would make a good book subject..
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
The excerpt reminded me of an article about mixed marriages...political ones. A Conservative and (for our foreign friends) a "Progressive". And in every case, the Conservative stayed quiet at home, meek as lambs, to keep the peace with their spouses. The only one I remember was Richard Brookhiser and his wife; I lost a lot of respect for him after reading that article.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
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