Pamela had worked hard to break through every glass ceiling in her career. She had been the only female Ph.D. candidate in physics in her class. She had initially found it difficult to land a tenure track position because many faculty members believed that scientific research was incompatible with the “mommy track.”
Eventually, she proved her ilk as a science professor and became head of the department at a major research university. From there, she had become dean of the School of Natural Science.
A promotion to Vice President of Academic Affairs at a university across the country followed. That’s where she met Tim.
Tim was a psychologist. He had given a presentation at the university on stress management that Pamela attended. Intrigued by his ideas, she invited him to lunch.
She found that he had very different perspectives about work than she did. For instance, he put in eight or nine hours a day but didn’t work weekends ever. While he was proud of what he had accomplished in his career, it didn’t define him.
He recognized how hard she had worked to get to where she had gotten but worried about the toll it had taken on her. At 44, she had never been married and had had few meaningful relationships.
Tim set out to woo Pamela. He found that many carefully planned dates were cancelled at the last minute because of pressing and unexpected work schedules.
Eventually, Tim and Pamela had to define how their relationship was going to work vis a vis their careers. Tim told Pamela that he needed her to make at least as much of a commitment to their relationship as to her job. Pamela told Tim that she needed him to understand how important her job was to her.
Because Tim and Pamela really wanted their relationship to work, they were willing to put real effort into it despite their basic work compatibility differences. But this is an example of a couple who through love and communication were able to succeed despite different compatibility levels.
|Romance that last|
Tracie liked to read, sew, and do crossword puzzles. She had a small circle of friends, most of whom she had met through church. Aside from her job (one where she didn’t interact with people much), she saw groups of friends at church and maybe one other time a week.
Ted was new in town and joined Tracie’s church right away. He was immediately seen as a “catch” by all of the single women. But, he saw something in Tracie and didn’t have eyes for anyone else.
The problem was that Ted was always doing something. He joined a softball league, started volunteering at a soup kitchen, and joined the choir. He was always pressuring Tracie to go to his games, volunteer with him at the soup kitchen, and to join to choir too.
What Ted didn’t see at first was that Tracie enjoyed her quiet ways. She needed space. While Ted was energized by social contact with others, this kind of activity drained Tracie.
Eventually, they decided that Ted would continue to have an active social calendar and that Tracie could participate or not depending on her feelings.
This actually left both parties feeling that they had control of their independence. Ted was able to be independent because he could do the activities he liked and Tracie had independence because she could choose not to do them.
Another example of the importance of independence is Robyn and Chad. Chad was the highly independent type. He liked to be “free as a bird” and didn’t like to “report” his whereabouts to Robyn.
Robyn was quite insecure. She liked to know where he was and when he would be in for the evening. Her previous marriage had dissolved when she discovered that her ex husband had had a long term affair which made her insecure about any future relationships.
Chad and Robyn had to go into counseling to deal with this independence issue. Chad had to acknowledge Robyn’s insecurities and Robyn had to acknowledge that Chad wasn’t her ex husband.
Article 5 in this series of articles on compatibility issues during a romantic relationship will pick up with discussing "communication and other issues."