“How does it feel to be a decoration?” he asked. The question came at a political event from someone I considered a friend and it hit me hard. It’s been a challenge being married for over forty years to a politician named Tom Sawyer, but….”a decoration?” Through the years I’ve been happy to make him look good, while he calls my role “the hardest job in American politics.” I figure that if he still refers to me as his “trophy wife,” I must be doing something right. Now, it’s time that one of those “women behind a successful man” used her own voice and well-developed sense of humor to open this world to others who have a natural curiosity about what it takes to thrive in the midst of inevitable questions, issues and events. Relating my “adventures with Tom Sawyer” would enlighten, advise, and entertain.
When he was in Congress, “USA Today” distributed a questionnaire with one inquiry to each member’s spouse: “Did your husband have anything to do with your getting or keeping your job?” During the weeks prior to this survey, a few cases of wives’ employment had hit the news, each revealing that they were hired as a result of their husband’s position in the US House of Representatives. Having been a public school teacher for over twenty years, I took offense at the suggestions that my situation was similar to those who were given those cushy jobs. So, in answer to their question, I responded, “No, my husband had nothing to do with my getting or keeping my job, but I’ve had a hell of a lot to do with him getting and keeping his job!” My response wasn’t included in those they printed in their follow-up article, but I felt good about it. Tom often repeats the story as he describes me as an asset to his career.
Power Spousing is based on my adult lifetime in the role of political spouse. Tom’s offices have been at the national, state and local levels: member of the US House of Representatives, State Senator, State Representative, Ohio School Board and Mayor of the city of Akron. Although the book’s frame of reference is public service, other women who have similar demands on their time and attention will be able to relate to the question: How can a marriage survive such widespread pressures? These insights could transfer to spouses in other fields such as business, medicine, athletics and others. In addition, readers who are curious about “life in the fishbowl” will be able to understand it on a different level. As I speak with people about this endeavor, I detect an interest that is widespread, especially among women.
Most political spouses’ writings deal with situations in a reactive, retrospective manner and do not offer genuine advice to anyone else who’s likely to need to deal with the future in a proactive manner. My book is unique in this way. Every couple’s situation is different, but some issues are universal, nonetheless: maintaining one’s individuality, raising a healthy family, immersing oneself in a career separate from his, handling demands on their time, navigating social situations and more. Often, it’s difficult to share these concerns with anyone else who would understand. A whole new generation is wondering why anyone would get involved in a lifelong relationship with a political figure. Unfortunately, the bad behavior that blankets the media depicts a scenario to be avoided at all costs – tickle-fests with staff members, toe-tapping signals in the men’s room, frequenting call girls – ad nauseum. They’re not all like that, but the ones who do behave don’t make the news. There is a need to put this in perspective in a way that hasn’t been done before. This book is the first to guide the spouses of all high-profile Americans to handle their private lives while protecting their privacy. Others will be interested in watching the mystery unravel.
Power Spousing provides the reader with an authentic and frank perspective on the life of a political wife, including ways that other high-profile spouses can “keep their heads above water” and maintain their own identities. You will discover not only what that looks like, but will share in the experience of what it feels like.