According to work by statistician Nathan Yau reported by Quartz who used divorce data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 5 year survey from 2015, dentists are the 13th least likely occupation to end in divorce among roughly 500 occupations. He found that roughly 22.5% of dentists who have been married at least once has ended in divorce. He also found that physicians and surgeons are just a hair better than dentists in keeping their marriage intact with roughly 21.8% of physicians and surgeons who have been married at least once has ended in divorce. Nathan observed that in general higher-salary professions tend to have lower divorce rates than lower-salary professions. Even so, a dentist being in a marriage having a 22.5% chance of ending in divorce is not very good odds. There are many things that a dentist can do to attempt to keep this relationship intact. A good place to start is to understand some of the common reasons for divorce in dentistry.
The first is staff relationships. In general most dentists are men and most dental staff members are women. In a typical workday the dentists are surrounded by their dental staff. In some cases these staff may be young and attractive. Therefore it is important dentists clearly set out in any workplace guidelines clear boundaries and expectations of behavior in the dental office.
The second is related to expectations of the partner when getting into the relationship with a dentist. Everyone knows that dentists work long hours and have an intense workload. So making sure your partner has clear expectations about the work that must be done to be successful is important. Along with this is the understanding that success takes time. As has been covered before on this site, dentists graduate with lots of debt. This means that for many years after a young dentist gets out of school there will be years spent paying down this debt and also paying down debt if the dentist starts their own practice. It will take some time before there is enough money left over for fancy cars, big houses in the suburbs, and extravagant trips and getaways. Therefore, it is critically important that any spouse understand this and there is clear communication in the early years of marriage. Dentists could also try to do some financial planning so their spouse will have a better idea of when income will increase and debt will decrease and more money will be available for things besides paying down debt along with the basic household needs.
The third is related to the allure and attractiveness of being a dentist. Let’s face it, dentists are attractive people and hone skills to bring patients into their practice. During this process they may also attract other members of the opposite sex. This attractiveness can potentially cause issues in a marriage. Thus dentists should consider bringing their spouse along to events such as conferences and take time to remember to do the things that led their spouse to be attracted to them in the early stages of the relationship.
Even with an understanding of some of the common reasons for divorce in dentistry, divorce may be looming on the horizon. Before trying to determine the value of your practice so that it can be split with your spouse, it is best to try to engage in some form of couples therapy. A therapist might be able to help you rebuild communication with your partner and get your physical intimacy back.
For those looking for more information on dentisty and divorce, Will Parrish has put together a nice two part article series at DentistryIQ. The first article is titled “Divorce and dentistry: Why is rate of divorce high among dentists, and how can they avoid it? Part 1” published on July 6, 2016 and the second article is titled “Dentists facing divorce: practical steps to surviving, Part 2” published on August 9, 2016.