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Why Lawyers Can Be Difficult Spouses

Posted Feb 18, 2009 7:39 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A psychologist and author says lawyers’ personality traits and educational background can make them difficult marriage partners.

Psychologist Fiona Travis, who is herself married to lawyer, writes about the problems in a post at Lawyer Avenue. “It’s not that lawyers lack relationship-building skills,” she writes. “But, overworked, overburdened and squeezed by time—and now, the worst downturn in two decades—lawyers do exhibit communication and intimacy breakdowns peculiar to their education, their professional training and work environment.”

Travis says many lawyers “possess such marriage-straining attributes as ambition, narcissism, skepticism, defensiveness, perfectionism and the need to be in control. … It goes all the way back to law school, where one learns to argue, cross-examine, stonewall, delay, outwit, and avoid showing weakness to opposing counsel.”

The legal profession may be especially difficult for women lawyers. She cites ABA statistics that show a third of all women lawyers have never married, compared to 8 percent of male lawyers, and nearly half of women lawyers are currently unmarried, compared to 15 percent of the men.

Travis advises lawyers who want to improve their marriages to listen without interruption, become aware of their argumentative style, and focus more on their spouse’s feelings.

Travis is author of the book, Should You Marry a Lawyer? A Couple’s Guide to Balancing Work, Love & Ambition.

Hat tip to Legal Blog Watch.

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