Is his wife too much for you?

A U.S. Senator from Oklahoma is leading the charge for reforming the Internal Revenue Service. Apparently he`s somewhat motivated by the agency`s abuses in his home state. For example, IRS agents "rudely" confronted a Ponca City dentist and his wife, acting on suspicions that the couple stashed a "cash hoard" in their home. Although it wasn`t the most horrifying or riveting testimony during the hearings, we can easily imagine how nerve-wracking it must have been to have the IRS "barge" accusingl

Mark Hartley, Editor

markh@pennwell.com

A U.S. Senator from Oklahoma is leading the charge for reforming the Internal Revenue Service. Apparently he`s somewhat motivated by the agency`s abuses in his home state. For example, IRS agents "rudely" confronted a Ponca City dentist and his wife, acting on suspicions that the couple stashed a "cash hoard" in their home. Although it wasn`t the most horrifying or riveting testimony during the hearings, we can easily imagine how nerve-wracking it must have been to have the IRS "barge" accusingly into your office.

I kept thinking about his wife. In the journals, we read about dentists who bristle over government interference. But what about her? Her heart must have been lodged up in her throat from the fright.

Dentists might as well wear a sign, "Someone from the government may be harassing me at any moment. If you can handle that, feel free to introduce yourself to me." We can imagine a young woman giving the brush-off to an admiring dental student at a dance by saying, "I`ll stand in this corner. You stand in that corner way over there. You attract too many pests." My guess is that some funny woman has put this on her Top 10 list: Don`t marry a dentist for his money; just sue him.

The truth is, women marry dentists anyway. They have reputations for being excellent health-care providers (If you run out of things to brag about in the presence of a foreigner, try a truthful boast: "Best dentistry in the world, bub!"). Dentists are responsible members of our communities. They make good money and care for their families. They`re a catch, I reckon.

But why is it that the wives end up driving so many hygienists nuts? You can read some of the possible reasons in this issue. Readers share their responses to a Dialogue questionnaire we published about the dentist`s wife. The responses are rather nasty at times. The dentist`s wife, you begin to assume, must be the most wicked woman ever.

I contacted Alice Bredin, the author of The Virtual Office Survival Handbook and a national speaker on small businesses and entrepreneurs. I asked her, "What advice do you have for employees who feel the spouse of a small business owner meddles too much in the affairs of an office?"

Her response was, "I wish there was an easy answer to your question, but there isn`t. As an employee, you won`t be able - nor should you try - to alter the relationship between the owner and his/her spouse. What you can consider doing is make your boss aware of how this `meddling` is affecting your work and possibly the morale of the company. But if you decide to do this, you`ll need to use excellent communication skills; because if you say things the wrong way, you might find yourself out of a job."

By "communication skills," Bredin went on to explain that negative words such as "meddling" should be avoided. Ask for clarifications about your job duties in a non-confrontational manner and come up with a win-win solution to the problem. But, she adds, the best solution simply may be to look for a new job. "There`s no sense in staying in a position that causes you frustration and hardship." Amen, life is too short.

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