So you’ve arrived in the business world. You made it. Lots of hard work, long hours, and sacrifice. Congratulations! Society certainly values business success. It used to be that climbing the career ladder was only for men, but now, women are in the arena, too.
The social advancement of women in the workplace is fantastic, but as with any change, it brings new challenges as well. Women used to be the nurturers of the family and of relationships in general (and many still are), and now that women are showing up in large numbers in the business world, many simply do not have the time or energy to focus on their relationships. Just like our careers, relationships need tending to in order to flourish, and with two working parents, who is left to do this? Societally, women still do the majority of the nurturing. I believe it’s in our DNA. I personally love this aspect of being a woman (and a mother), but it’s certainly not easy to balance everything.
Have you looked around you and felt very proud of what you have accomplished in the business world? Do you feel empowered and effective? Now, do you also feel empowered in your personal relationships? Or are you quietly struggling in your relationship with your spouse, your parents, your children, or your neighbors? I find that this is an area of shame for many women. Shame is a deeply personal and private experience where we feel like we’re not worthy of love (read more here about researcher Brené Brown’s work on shame).
Why Women Struggle
Why do successful women struggle in love and personal relationships? I believe that one reason is that we have not been taught how to effectively handle conflict in our personal relationships. This skill is often not addressed in school, and many well-intentioned parents do not know how to role model such behavior. Women have a huge emotional investment in personal relationships – more so than in business; we have more at stake, and we often take conflicts (and endings) very personally.
From working with business women in my clinical practice (and from being one myself), here are some lessons I’ve learned that every business woman needs to know about relationships:
- It’s okay (and necessary) for you to have an opinion in your personal relationships
You and the other person may not agree on everything, and that’s wonderful! Don’t be afraid to express a different view than ones you’re close with. It is possible to be close to someone and also to a different perspective (I love this article by Dr. Julie Hanks LCSW about how having different views can also bring us closer in our relationships).
- It’s okay to express your feelings and needs
Many women do not even recognize that they have emotional needs. I hope that you can learn to recognize them, honor them, and to express them in your relationships
- It’s okay to ask for what you want
It’s not selfish or pushy to make requests; it means that you respect yourself and want to make yourself known.
- It’s okay to set boundaries in your personal relationships
This may include statements like, “I tend to go to bed early, so if you need to be up late, please make sure you are respectful of me sleeping or, “When we have something important to discuss, I would prefer to do it in person or over the phone.”
- It’s okay to ask for help
You can’t do it all alone, so please ask for help and share duties at home and involving child-care.
Empowering Families By Strengthening Girls & Women
At Warrenton Women’s Counseling Center, we work with girls of all ages (teenagers, adult women, mothers, and daughters). Our work is done face-to-face, online or via phone. We would love to hear from you and help to empower you and/or your daughter.
Michelle Kelley, LCSW is a licensed counselor and owner of Warrenton Women’s Counseling Center. We work with girls and women of all ages. Our motto is to empower families by strengthening girls and women. For more information call (540) 316-6362 or email Michelle@WarrentonWomensCounselingCenter.com