Photo by Jeremy Wong Weddings on Unsplash
A divorce lawyer recently posted on Tiktok warning women about professions to avoid in a potential spouse. What if you’re already in a relationship?
Katherine Leonard, recently posted about her experience working as a divorce lawyer, warning women of five professions to avoid in a potential husband. The professions were firefighters, police officer, military personnel, surgeon and pilot. She went through her case history and found that there was a correlation between men in these occupations and her most difficult cases.
Leonard went on to explain that the men in these careers are more likely to be, “narcissistic, controlling…and have a how dare you challenge me approach to litigation.” She attributed this to them being, “gods in their profession… and respected.”
While I don’t question her lived experience, I do wonder if she’s correct in her assumption of causality. After all, she was representing her clients as the soon to be divorced ex-wives and may not have been totally impartial.
Is it feasible that they could all be narcissistic?
Narcissism is defined by the Oxford dictionary as, ‘A person who has excessive interest in or admiration of themselves.’ Narcissism lies on a continuum with Narcissistic personality disorder being at one extreme. This disorder is more prevalent in men than women but is only estimated to affect up to five per cent of the population.
I often question the value in applying labels to people. Labels can place people in rigid boxes and shape the lens through which we view their behaviour. Now if we work with the hypothesis that not all of these men were narcissistic, what other factors may they have in common, possibly contributing to the breakdown of their marriages and behaviour during the divorce proceedings?
All of these professions entail a lot of responsibility, long hours, often shift work/overtime and exposure to highly stressful, potentially life-threatening situations. Work related post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) could also be a contributing factor as police officers, fire-fighters and military personnel are often at risk of developing this and perhaps to a lesser extent, surgeons (particularly trauma surgeons) and pilots who’ve been involved in serious aviation incidents.
So, what if you’re already in a relationship or married to a man in one of these professions? Now, assuming your husband/partner isn’t a narcissist and is a decent, albeit flawed person who has a very demanding career; what can you do to mitigate the risk of separation/divorce?
Three tips to help
Put on your own oxygen-mask first
I’ve worked with a lot of women who have been feeling overwhelmed in their relationships, including some who’ve been on the verge of separation. I believe the first thing to do is to take responsibility for the way you’re showing up in the relationship. Responsibility can be seen as our ability to respond to life and we’re able to respond to life’s ups and downs more gracefully when we’ve dealt with our own “baggage.” This means addressing our previous traumas (big and small) so that we’re not easily triggered, learning to effectively honour and process our emotions and developing increased confidence in ourselves and resilience. For some women this involves learning to let go, others develop their voices to speak up for themselves, while others learn about setting healthy boundaries and practising self-care. When we feel good within ourselves we can be the type of partners we want to be.
Use healthy relationship behaviours as a model for your relationship
Happy couples have lots in common in terms of behaviour and we can all learn from their examples. They have a foundation of respect and trust and communicate effectively. Couples in healthy relationships make time for each other and show interest in their partner’s opinions, desires and needs. They handle conflict in a constructive way, keeping the conversation about the topic, not the other person’s flaws. Couples in healthy relationships laugh together, prioritise the relationship, focus on their partner’s good points and repair after conflict.
If your partner is experiencing a stressful time, be supportive and show that you believe in them. Listen intently and allow your partner the time and space to choose their own solution. Sometimes being heard makes all the difference. Other times a change in routine is needed, with some more ‘me time’ factored in. Exercise, mindfulness, time in nature, meditation and practising gratitude can all be helpful to lessen the affects of stress. Therapy can also be a good option to learn new skills, if the person is committed to change and ready to engage.
Published on Medium.com