We see photos of them smiling side by side on the society pages of magazines, and in our personal lives we laugh, dine and vacation with them. Perhaps you’re even one of them— well, half of one of them. The once-elusive power couple is on the rise; they’re everywhere, they’re basking in it, and we’re noticing.
A power couple is made up of two equally strong, successful, charitable—and often attractive—individuals who come together romantically, but in doing so, further increase their influence and net worth. Canada happens to be full of them. Joe Mimran, the newest addition to CBC’s Dragons’ Den, and Pink Tartan’s Kimberley Newport-Mimran; Indigo CEO Heather Reisman and Gerry Schwartz, co-founder of CanWest Global Communications Inc.; and politician Peter MacKay and his activist (and former Miss World Canada) wife Nazanin Afshin-Jam are but a few of the most notable.
“Generally mates are attracted to people of the same mate status or slightly above. When you have large disparities in social class or education, conflict often happens,” says psychologist and relationship expert Wendy Walsh, Ph.D.
But it takes more to breed a successful romantic partnership than social class. Psychotherapist Jenn Mann, host of VH1’s Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn, says that the basis of being a part of a power couple is the increased sense of understanding that comes along with it. “Not only are [the partners] able to support each other better, but they’re able to understand each other better, too. They can understand each other on a level that someone who doesn’t have that work schedule, pressure or stress can’t [comprehend],” says Mann. In addition, “they both bring something to the table that benefits the other person, and that is a nice thing.”
Where trophy wives were once prevalent (though they’re not yet an extinct breed), research shows that partnerships with an equal playing field result in happier, healthier and overall more successful relationships. “There’s a lot to be said for two people that come together because they choose to be together as equals, as opposed to one person [being] dependent on the other,” says Mann.
Despite the positive benefits, these dynamic duos aren’t perfect. “Power couples have a lot of schedule demands, and making the time for each other and the relationship can be hard. For couples in the same business (two actors, for example), being competitive with each other can be very harmful,” says Mann. But many make it work. “Connection is key. Nurturing the connection between two people is the foundation to any relationship, and when that suffers, everything else does too,” says Mann. This requires time and attention when there is an evening or a weekend to spend together. “Put down the cell phone. Face-to-face time is crucial; take the time to go to dinner together. If you’re travelling, stay connected on the phone by emailing and talking,” suggests Mann.
It’s worth the extra effort to nurture a relationship; the benefits outweigh the struggles. “Solid relationships are good for us,” says Walsh. “Long-term bonded couples have better mental and physical health, live longer and accumulate more wealth.” In addition, Mann notes that supportive couples have “lower blood pressure, less stress and are happier” than those not in a stable relationship.
This is not to say that there’s something wrong with being single—some of the most successful people thrive on being single. But the positive effect that coupledom has on health and overall well-being is tough to ignore.
Relationships work best when the power is equal; if 50 per cent of the couple is making 100 per cent of the decisions, the dynamic isn’t sustainable. This is why it works for the types of individuals who find themselves in power couples. Plus, for a relationship to be truly healthy, you shouldn’t be dependent on your partner all of the time anyhow. Bask in your individuality so as not to get lost in the relationship. The stronger you are as an individual, the more likely you’ll be to attract a like-minded partner, and establish a strong and supportive power team.