The upside to women in "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.

These men are secure enough to follow as well as lead. They value partnership, parenting and pulling their own weight. They work but aren’t workaholics. The problem is family members and friends who sometimes devalue such men because they don’t adhere to traditional standards of masculinity—standards that should no longer apply.