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5 ways to get along with your new coworker – your spouse

By Kathryn VaselCNN Business

(CNN) For many couples, a good portion of the week used to be spent apart at their jobs.But with so many people now working from home, partners are getting an inside look at each other’s work lives.
And while you might be comfortable working side-by-side with your co-workers, you may find yourself clamming up when having to make a call with your partner next to you.

“This is the person you are most intimate with in the whole world and you realize there is a domain of their life that you know very little about,” said Jennifer Petriglieri, author of “Couples That Work: How Dual-Career Couples Can Thrive in Love and Work” and a Professor at INSEAD business school.
Here are a few ways to break the tension.

1. Address the elephant in the room

Knowing what your partner does is one thing, but seeing them in action is another.
“We are forced into the intimacy, not just with spouses, but also with kids or whoever else is in the home,” said Karen Bridbord, a psychologist and organizational workplace consultant in New York City.

The first step in making this situation work is to talk about it. Talk about any insecurities you may have whether it’s participating in a video meeting or being eavesdropped on and what you need in terms of a work environment. Then create a schedule and set boundaries when it comes to separating work life and personal life.

“Have a more general conversation about concerns: what are you worried about vis-à-vis work — your partner seeing you work being one of those — and why you worry about them,” said Petriglieri.

By keeping your concerns as part of a bigger conversation, you’re more likely to evoke empathy from the partner which will help negotiate boundaries, she added.

If a relationship had issues before, working in such close quarters under stressful conditions will likely magnify them.

“Issues will come bubbling up in different ways,” said Bridbord. “When everything is irritating you about the other person, that is when you have to look at yourself and why you are so triggered.”

2. Provide an inside look

Sometimes, our partners only hear the bad stuff about work: the micromanaging boss, that loud co-worker and the impossible deadlines.

But being forced to work out of the same office now can help change perceptions and even help partners and kids better understand what we do all day. And that’s not a bad thing.

Make your work part of the daily conversation by talking about what you’re working on and why it’s important to you, suggested Petriglieri. And if applicable, how your work relates to or has changed due to the pandemic.

“When everyone understands the priorities… and why they are important and what they contribute too, we’re more likely to be respectful of boundaries and appreciate each other’s work space and then make the most of when we’re together without work.”

Getting an inside look can help make late nights or missed life moments more justifiable once there is a return to office life and separate careers.

3. Use project management tactics

Tackle this situation like you would a challenge at the office: get organized, communicate and delegate.

“Take those business principles and apply them to your life at home right now,” suggested Bridbord. “Our lives together are, in essence, a business with lots happening at once,” she added.
That means defining everything that needs to be done, including child care, cleaning and cooking, and then delegating.

Having daily meetings to plan or assess the day or documenting all the responsibilities can help keep everyone on track.

“These systems allow us to focus and plan — and helps share the cognitive load,” she said.

4. Avoid treating each other like colleagues

You might be learning that your spouse is a fan of all the office clichés or holds too many meetings — but it’s best to keep that to yourself.

Even if you think your intentions are good, don’t offer any unsolicited feedback when it comes to your partner’s work style.

And don’t mistake complaining as an opportunity to critique.

“Even if a partner is complaining about work, you shouldn’t see that as an invitation or opportunity to provide critical feedback,” said Anthony Chambers, couple and family psychologist and chief academic officer at The Family Institute at Northwestern University. “Allow them to vent and be heard.”

5. Don’t go tit for tat

These working conditions aren’t ideal for many people right now — especially if you are juggling kids and other care giving responsibilities. It can feel overwhelming and exhausting, but try not to keep score of who is doing what around the house, or who’s work is more pressing.

Being competitive can be a sign of a deeper issue. “Feelings of competition can arise when people feel that they are not on the same team and there is a zero/sum experience in the relationship,” said Bridbord. “And they are not supporting one another emotionally and pragmatically on a day-to-day basis.”

Originally published on

Relationship Expert: During COVID-19, ‘Project Manage’ Your Partnership 5 ways to get along with your new coworker – your spouse

We asked The Gottman Institute how you can do less housework

by Beth Castle

Ever fantasized about dating a coworker? Congratulations. You and millions of other Americans are now living that dream. At home. Every day. With your kids.

Did I mention you’re married and we’re in the middle of a pandemic? How could I forget.

Whatever your situation, if you’re struggling to work from home with your partner—or even your roommate—during coronavirus, you’re not alone. COVID-19 has brought a new and exhausting challenge into our lives: navigating a personal relationship while also juggling work, our mental health, caring for kids and loved ones, and the fear of the unknown in a living space that seems to get smaller every single day. This is the garbage compactor scene in Star Wars if there ever were one.

InHerSight isn’t here to dish out relationship advice, but we believe work, paid or unpaid, is work, and we know the unpaid bit is most likely to cause burnout for working women right now—because there is just so much of it, and many households don’t divide up chores evenly. That’s where your work and home lives are entirely, and very messily, intertwined.

Clinical psychologist Karen Bridbord, an organizational consultant for companies and startups and a certified Gottman Couples Therapist, says now is the time for couples to take a more business-minded approach to their relationships. If you’re going to successfully work, raise kids, eat, sleep, and whatever else at home together in the middle of a global health crisis, then you need to learn to “project manage” your lives. Here’s how.

Schedule a ‘State of the Union’

Welcome to the only in-person meeting on your calendar for the foreseeable future: the “State of the Union.” Bridbord says every couple should schedule a “planning and implementation” meeting to talk about what needs to get done and who’s doing what. Assign tasks just like you would at your monthly business meeting. “We need to bring some of the strategies we use to manage companies into how we manage relationships,” Bridbord says.

This regularly occurring meeting is also a time for partners to talk about what isn’t working and how you, as a team, will readjust to better meet each other’s needs. “The first 30 seconds of a conversation determines how the rest of the conversation will go,” Bridbord says, suggesting that couples dealing with conflict use a “softened startup,” a formulaic way of framing problems, to ease into tricky subjects. That phrase sounds like this:

I feel ______ about  ______, and I need ______.

Watch out for the ‘Four Horsemen’

Communication in relationships (and quarantine) is key, and productive communication will need to happen whether you’re in your State of the Union or not. The Gottman Method, which is the research-based method Bridbord uses in her therapy sessions, says a first step in forming productive communication is ridding conflict discussions of the “Four Horsemen”: criticism, contempt, stonewalling, and defensiveness. “Within this crisis, there is great opportunity, and that opportunity is connection,” Bridbord says.

Couples should deal with conflict at the most stress-free time possible to keep the Four Horsemen from derailing the conversation. “Right now, all of us have anxiety, and it’s being directed in different ways,” Bridbord says. “When you’re in a state of overwhelm, you may become flooded. That’s not the time to talk.” Take a break and, as your coworkers say, circle back.

She also recommends reminding yourself that your partner can’t read your mind. A lot of conflict stems from this belief that partners should be able to guess how we feel. That isn’t going to happen. “And it’s not something we usually do to our colleagues,” Bridbord says.

Remember the principle of ‘aikido’

You ladder-climbers who’ve read up on persuasion tactics will recognize the principle of aikido, or the Japanese martial arts strategy that roughly translates to “yield to win.” It’s the idea that in order to have a positive conclusion to your conflict, you need to accept and understand your partner’s perspective and feelings. In martial arts, it’s about victory, but in relationships, it’s about coming to a solution both of you are comfortable with.

Bridbord says that instead of telling your partner what you think is going wrong, you should invite them to first share their thoughts on your relationship. Try questions like, “How do you think things are going at home?” and “What do you think is going well and not going well?”

This approach fosters discussion and collaboration, and it gives you the opportunity to see your relationship from your partner’s vantage point. “Sometimes we assume our partners are not doing their best, but what if we flip that script and assume they’re trying their hardest?” Bridbord says.

Practice stress-reducing conversations

Anxiety is contagious, meaning when you’re tense, other people around you are more likely to become tense. What a wonderful time for everyone to be trapped in their homes with their partners.

Bridbord says there are ways to mitigate mounting anxiety. “One of the key factors in successful couples is the ability to have stress-reducing conversations,” she says. In those conversations, a proper response to “I’m having a really hard day” isn’t “Me too” or “Just wait until you hear about mine.” It’s “Tell me about that.”

As a listener, don’t try to fix your partner’s problems, either. “People aren’t looking for someone to solve their problems, just to listen,” she says. Ask prompting questions to dig deeper. Empathize.

In terms of your relationship, this kind of active listening is a sign of friendship, which Bridbord says is fundamental to romance. “The hallmarks of friendship are trust and commitment. We’re looking for partners who will show up for us emotionally.”

That doesn’t mean showing up is easy. It’s not, and neither is building an equitable relationship in the best of circumstances. Everyone is struggling with it. “These kinds of dynamics transcend socioeconomics,” Bridbord says. Simply put: “It’s hard to work together.”

Originally published on

12 Things You Should Never Say to Your Partner (They Could Cause Irreparable Damage)

Even though the ability to be open and honest with your partner is a technically good thing, there are some thoughts you really should keep to yourself and not say to your partner. The reason being that saying certain things to your partner could cause damage to the foundation of the relationship—the type of damage that’s especially challenging (though not impossible!) to come back from.

Known of the most legendary relationship experts of the 20th century, Dr. John Gottman, and his wife, Dr. Julie Gottman, conducted numerous studies on couples, specifically focusing on their communication methodology and how key markers were high indicators of a future divorce. Through their work, John Gottman found that four specific behaviors—Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt, and Stonewalling—“are so predictive of killing a relationship, he gave named them using them an apocalyptic reference—the Four Horsemen,” explains Jonathan Shippey, LMFT, a Certified Gottman Therapist and Master Trainer in Louisville, KY, specializing in intensive couples therapy and workshops for military families. 

“Dr. Gottman found that if people engaged in these behaviors in a conversation, it would degrade rapidly, and if couples experience enough degraded conversations, the result will be a degraded relationship over time,” Shippey elborates. “Of the four, contempt is the most potent,” he explains, and notes that Dr. Gottman refers to its use as the “sulfuric acid on the fabric of love”. In fact, as Dr. Gottman’s research has proven, “Contempt is one of the biggest predictors of divorce,” adds Mike McNulty, Ph. D., a Certified Gottman Therapist and Master Trainer with the Chicago Relationship Center.

However, no matter where you and your partner are currently in your relationship, “People have the ability to repair in the aftermath of betrayal,” says Certified Gottman Therapist, clinical psychologist and organization consultant, Karen Bridbord, Ph. D. “People can transcend deep hurts to transform their partnerships for the better.”

And rethinking how you communicate with your partner, so you can break any patterns of negativity, is one of the best ways to start! What’s important to remember is that, “Behind every complaint/criticism that your partner makes, there is a longing,” says Dr. Bridbord. Your job is to “Figure out what the longing is and see if you can fulfill it.”  

This expert advice from three Certified Gottman Therapists on the 12 things you should never say to your partner will help you improve your communication skills as a couple, so your relationship can benefit as a result.

12 Things You Should Never Say to Your Partner

1. “I should never have married you.”

“We want to hear that our partners would marry us again and again,” Dr. Bridbord says, which is why this is so painful for your partner to hear. “It is a statement that undermines the covenant that was created when you committed to the partnership,” she explains, “and creates deep resentment and feelings of insecurity” that can be incredibly challenging to repair. 

Related: Here Are the Four Horsemen Behaviors Coined by John Gottman That Will Ruin Your Marriage—Plus, How to Avoid Them

2. “You…”, “You always…”, “You never…”

“‘You,’ ‘You always,’ and ‘You never’ statements tend to come off as blaming or critical when a partner is trying to express an honest complaint or concern,” says Dr. McNulty. “An example of a ‘You’ statement is, ‘You always forget to take out the trash,’ or ‘You never think of me.’” However, starting with “You” only emphasizes differences and is not a proactive, reparative approach, which is why “I” statements are a better approach. “People who own their feelings and needs with ‘I’ statements communicate their complaints or concerns with their partners in a healthy manner,” Dr. McNulty explains. “An example of healthier communication with an ‘I’ statement is,  ‘I feel frustrated when you forget to take out the trash.’” Communicating in this way will make your partner more receptive to the information you’re sharing, while still allowing you to express your concerns openly.

3. “I’m no longer attracted to you.”

“This is one that is very hard for people to overcome, even if it was not something that was intended,” says Dr. Bridbord, which is why it can be such a damaging thing to say. “We human beings have a very difficult time being told that we are unattractive and then believing that our partner didn’t mean it. It can really stop sex in its tracks for long periods of time,” she explains, “and it is a hard one to repair.” 

4. “You are such a slob.”

This type of statement is criticism in the form of name-calling, which is damaging to relationships. “Instead, ask for what you need with gentleness,” Shippey says. A better approach would be rephrasing your wishes gently but clearly by saying something like, “Would you please put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher tonight before you go to bed?” he suggests.

5. “Help me to understand why??!!” (with an eye-roll or sneer)

“This is another statement where the language looks correct, but the tone and the nonverbal communications makes the person asking the question to come off as superior or disgusted,” Dr. McNulty says. “If the question is asked with an honest, open, curious tone, it is fine because the person asking is really trying to understand. If it is asked with contempt, the person asking is expressing disgust and/or superiority, and most likely does not want to know the answer,” he explains, which can further increase tension and distance in your relationship.

6. “Here you go again! You always ruin every dinner out!” 

Going global with your criticism and applying it in sweeping generalities doesn’t give your partner much insight as to where you’re coming from or how they can avoid repeating it in the future. To get more on the same page, work on improving your communication in the relationship. “Make a specific, temporary request instead,” Shippey suggests. For example,“Tonight when we go out with my brother and his wife, please don’t bring up politics,” is much more clear cut.

7. “Really??!!”  

“One partner typically says this to the other when they cannot believe what their partner wants, needs, or believes,” Dr. McNulty says. But “This statement is contemptuous: The tone is very negative and indicates a sense of superiority or disgust. The partner uses the correct language to convey a sense of interest, but in a sarcastic, incredulous manner.” This doesn’t work, he explains, because “The other partner immediately feels defense.” That’s, in part, why “Dr. John Gottman says that each time we use contempt with our partners, it is like ‘pouring acid on love,’” he says.

8. “Why can’t you be more like her/him?”

“Negative comparisons of one’s partner to others creates insecurity and hurt between people,” says Dr. Bridbord. “They may feel that they can never live up to some imagined other and/or that they are unworthy. Or, they may just get really angry and decide to check out.” Ultimately, “Negative comparisons are highly unproductive and erode trust in relationships.”

9. “You know what your problem is? You’re just selfish.”

Placing the problem within your partner is an especially damaging form of criticism, says Shippey, that can breed insecurity or disdain in your partner. “Instead, complain without blame,” he suggests, by saying something like, “I was surprised to see you ate all the leftovers. Please check with me before doing that again.”

10. “I feel you…”

“Sometimes, ‘I feel you statements’ are people’s attempts to use ‘I’ statements, but they are actually ‘You’ statements in disguise,” Dr. McNulty explains, which is why this type of dialogue should be carefully monitored. “For example, a statement like, ‘I feel like you never remember to take out that trash and I feel like you just don’t care,’ still blames the other person and attributes negative intent to them,” he elaborates, and “People tend to get defensive around statements that come off as critical. Using soft startup is a much better approach.” He recommends trying this method: When making a complaint, say ‘I feel, about what, and I need.’ Use ‘I’ statements to discuss your feelings and needs, and try to have a receptive tone when you ask questions or when you are in conflict with your partner.” And lastly, “Be ready to say ‘I am sorry,’ and try again when you fail to do so, because we all do. Good relationships are mostly built on repair because we are all human,” he reminds us.

11. “Clearly, you let people down all the time.”

“Avoid using information that your partner shared with you about other conflicts in their lives against them when you argue,” cautions Dr. Bridbord. “A sure fire way to damage the trust between you is by using your knowledge of some vulnerability that they have against them when you are in conflict. This is siding with the enemy and you will become part of the enemy,” she explains.

12. “Oh yeah? What about you?!” 

When you’re on the receiving end of criticism, it’s tempting to respond with defensiveness. But, while it might feel good in the moment, it won’t help you and your partner work through any relationship problems you’re dealing with. “Instead, own any part that’s true,” Shippey suggests, by responding with something like, “I apologize for doing that. It was inconsiderate of me.” Notice how, with time, it can help disagreements get resolved more easily by making your partner feel heard and understood. 

From Parade Magazine

How Do I Make Time for Family Issues Without Work Slipping?

A Gottman therapist on how to attend to your loved ones while giving your job the attention it needs.

Editor’s Note: Strong relationships are at the core of a happy life, but sometimes, dealing with the people in our lives is tricky. That’s why Thrive Global partnered with The Gottman Institute on this advice column, Asking for a Friend. Every week, Gottman’s relationship experts will answer your most pressing questions about navigating relationships — with romantic partners, family members, co-workers, friends, and more. Have a question? Send it to!

Q: I have a lot going on in my personal life right now. How do I make time for family without slipping up at work? The past couple months have been busy at home, and not in the most positive ways. I find myself being a constant mediator between siblings and parents. I want to make time for my loved ones and show them that I’m truly there for them, but I also have an extremely busy job, and I work pretty long hours that aren’t always conducive to me leaving before sundown. How do I show up as a loved one without letting it make me look bad at work?

A: A true work/life quandary! It sounds like you’re managing a disruption to the delicate balance between attending to your loved ones and giving your job the attention that it needs. Being pushed and pulled in different directions like this results in an imbalance in need of recalibration.

You have added a new role to your daily to-dos: family mediator. And I truly feel your pain. Being thrust in such a role to your own family is brutal. Distressing. Emotionally exhausting.

You’re correct in your concern that work will be negatively impacted, not just because of the time involved in attending to your family, but the family drama that you can’t help but internalize may become a real focus buster.

You’re not alone. Many very well intentioned, peacemaking types end up playing the role of mediator in their families. At times, this role can feel manageable, but when it crosses over into impacting a full-time job, the role of mediator is simply no longer one that you can play.

In fact, it can be detrimental to your own well-being and may not actually be what your family members need, although they may try to convince you otherwise. Might I add, you are not in an objective position to mediate, as well intentioned as you may be, given that you are part of a family system and may inadvertently be contributing to the continued drama. Family therapy and professional mediation are disciplines that have developed for this very reason.

So you will need to set boundaries with your family. Setting boundaries doesn’t mean shutting the door on them while they are in need. Rather, you are moving into a supporting role rather than a primary role. It means getting them the type of assistance that can actually help them move through this conflict without harming and negatively impacting your own life.

Seeking a skilled clinician or mediator, depending on what the conflict is about, will be a wonderful way to effectively help your family through this time. You can find a Gottman-trained clinician in your area on the Gottman Referral Network.

You are not a mediator or a family therapist, you are a family member. Make sure that you’re taking care of yourself, which will ultimately help your family, whether or not they acknowledge it in the short term.

It’s the best gift that you can give them to help them through their current conflict.

I Worked Hard for My Manager Position, But I’m in Over My Head. Should I Say Something?

A Gottman therapist says if the new role is taking a toll on your well-being, it’s time to speak up.

Editor’s Note: Strong relationships are at the core of a happy life, but sometimes, dealing with the people in our lives is tricky. That’s why Thrive Global partnered with The Gottman Institute on this advice column, Asking for a Friend. Every week, Gottman’s relationship experts will answer your most pressing questions about navigating relationships — with romantic partners, family members, co-workers, friends, and more. Have a question? Send it to!

Q: I’ve been at the same company for a few years, and I’ve finally gotten a managerial position that I’ve worked so hard to achieve. I love the people I work with, and I’m glad to take on the new responsibilities, but at the same time, I’m completely overwhelmed. Managing other people is harder than I thought, and I’m way over my head. I want to succeed in the position, but I’m having trouble prioritizing my tasks, managing my workload, and getting home in time each night to still connect with my family. Should I say something to my boss or just try to power through? And how do I get my family to understand what I’m dealing with?

A: Yes! By all means, speak up! Do so ASAP, both to your manager and to your family. And with that said, congratulations on your promotion!

But truth be told, the very skills that landed you your promotion — being good at the technical aspects of your job — are different from what will make you successful as a manager.

It’s a funny thing that promotion into management often takes you away from the very things that brought you that promotion in the first place. It’s not more of the same — it’s actually something totally different. I’ve worked with many first-time managers who have privately confessed that they feel like a fraud in their new role as a manager. And research substantiates this: For example, a 2016 survey of 500 managers found that 44 percent felt unprepared for their role, and 87 percent wish that they had more training before becoming a manager.

While we need a license for so many different activities and jobs, people often become managers without any idea of what that means. Many executives that I coach are surprised when they receive negative feedback about their management style — they are unaware of how they are perceived.

The parallels of managing your personal relationships and your workplace relationships are evident, as both require strong communication skills and a high level of self-management.

I’m hopeful about your future success because although you are overwhelmed, you recognize it. This self-awareness is key. Great managers have high levels of self-awareness. And management is mostly a set of learnable skills. Within the management skillset is a significant core skill: relationship management.

It’s obviously beyond the scope of this column to provide management training, but let me introduce you to the Sound Relationship Workplace (see image), a model that I’ve developed based on Dr. John Gottman’s Sound Relationship House. Over the years, I’ve trained many a first time manager using this framework. Whether you’re building colleague maps, learning how to provide feedback and effectively delegating, learning to manage conflict, and intentionally building a positive workplace culture, these relationship skills are critical to succeeding as a manager.

Many new managers are thrust into their new roles without their organizations setting them up for success. The costs for the organization due to failures in management are significant, so it’s your responsibility to tell your boss that you are in need of support. Turn towards your manager. Go get some management training. Ask for it. Get a mentor. And get clear on your goals (are they the same as before the promotion? If not, how have they changed since you signed on for your new role?). For the members of your family: turn towards them. Explain to them that your promotion is, in essence, a new job. There is a learning curve, and you will need some time to get up to speed. Share with them what you learn as you learn about being a manager. Inform them regularly about your journey as you build love maps with them pertaining to your job. Assure them that things will get better (because you will take the steps to receive training and support). As you become better at managing yourself, all of your relationships will improve.

I’m More Career-Driven Than My Partner. Is That Bad?

A Gottman therapist says there are ways to deal with a difference in ambition without it causing intense stress for the two of you.

Editor’s Note: Strong relationships are at the core of a happy life, but sometimes, dealing with the people in our lives is tricky. That’s why Thrive Global partnered with The Gottman Institute on this advice column, Asking for a Friend. Every week, Gottman’s relationship experts will answer your most pressing questions about navigating relationships — with romantic partners, family members, co-workers, friends, and more. Have a question? Send it to!

Q: I’ll be honest: I’ve always been extremely driven in terms of my career path, and my husband isn’t. I love him, and he has so many amazing qualities, but he’s just not as career-oriented. It’s a point of contention in our relationship — I set goals and work my hardest to succeed, while he seems happy exactly where he is and has no intention of progressing further. Does it matter that he’s not as driven as I am? How can I encourage him to work harder without trying to completely change him?

A: First, let’s address an important reality: Most of us don’t marry our twin. In fact, we often partner with people who are quite different from us. These differences can be exciting at first, but sometimes the very differences between us end up creating challenges. Dr. John Gottman’s extensive research on couples has found that most problems (69%) between partners are perpetual, and not solvable. People end up differing on the same issues — often rooted in personality differences or unmatched lifestyle preferences — 50 years into their marriage as they did 50 days into their relationship. In happy relationships, these differences are not divisive; people learn how to live with them, and often, how to appreciate them.

So it’s not surprising at all that you are still dealing with this difference years into the relationship. Let’s call it a “career ambition difference” between you and your husband. And it appears that the issue has become more of an issue for you. Knowing that, when you look inward, what has shifted? This “point of contention” is what truly needs to change, rather than changing your husband (which, by the way, can’t happen). All truly transformational change must come from within. Indeed, no one can change another.

Your own self awareness, and how you communicate this awareness to your husband, are key to having an open and productive dialogue. First, determine what is behind your desire for his career advancement. Is it financially driven (as in, “if we make more money, we get to buy a sports car”)? Is it prestige driven (as in, “if you become a VP, our friends, family and my colleagues will be impressed”)? Perhaps you see something in him that is unrealized, an untapped potential, and you want him to fully explore it for his own self-actualization? Is it driven by a desire to see him more passionate about something other than streaming Netflix? Do you have fantasies about becoming a “power couple”? All of the above?

This behind-the-scenes self-exploration that I’m recommending targets the values behind your desire for his career advancement. This will allow you to move away from blaming him for his lack of career ambition to appropriately expressing your true values manifested in your wish. For example, speak with him about your desire for greater financial security and its roots, and how this plays out in your desire for his career advancement. That way it moves away from him not doing something to your concerns about your joint financial future.

Encourage him to think about his desire not to drive for career advancement. What are the values behind his stance, and why? Does he believe that life is too short to spend that much time at work? Does he prefer to take care of your home and your personal lives? Or does he want you to take care of him and not have to do the heavy lifting (this might be your fear)?

Think about your partner holistically, as clearly there are things that you love about him. What else does he bring to the table? Perhaps that’s kindness, care, respect, or fun — what other values are congruent in your day-to-day lives together? Does he care about your values and try to work with you to reflect them? Does the fact that he is not as ambitious as you free up time for him to take care of other matters in your lives? Does he celebrate and encourage your ambition? Remember that there are many, many things that professional success and money can’t buy.

Recognize that asking him to increase his ambition may be as significant as him asking you to dim your own. Both tend to create problems in couples, so tread gingerly but openly, and be vulnerable, so he can be as well. The positive advancement of your relationship depends on being able to navigate these potential value differences with love and respect — a valuable ambition for us all.

I’m Thinking of Going Into Business With My Partner. Is That a Bad Idea?

A Gottman therapist says these specific qualities that will help you launch a business as a couple.

Editor’s Note: Strong relationships are at the core of a happy life, but sometimes, dealing with the people in our lives is tricky. That’s why Thrive Global partnered with The Gottman Institute on this advice column, Asking for a Friend. Every week, Gottman’s relationship experts will answer your most pressing questions about navigating relationships — with romantic partners, family members, co-workers, friends, and more. Have a question? Send it to!

Q: My partner and I have been talking for a while about the idea of starting a business together, but until recently, it was just talk. He recently addressed the idea more seriously, and I’m starting to get cold feet. We have a great relationship, and rarely fight — and I don’t want to compromise that by going into business together. Is it a bad idea to work with your loved one? How can we navigate a romantic relationship and a professional one without ruining both?

A: Starting a business with your partner can be a wonderful and rewarding experience, professionally and personally. AND… You are rightfully concerned about starting a business with your partner. Many people delve into “profam relationships” — my term for people who have a professional relationship with a family member — without recognizing both the professional and social liability of such unions. Be aware that adding a “social” contract with an “employment” contract is not without its complexities, and tensions. The boardroom does not operate under the same rules as the bedroom.

In and of itself it is not “a bad idea to work with a loved one.” What’s most important is that you are aligned with the vision of the business and have similar goals and values. If there is anything less than solid congruence on vision, goals, and values, and this remains unaddressed, a later upheaval is likely — actually just like what happens in partner relationships! Differences in these realms should be ironed out now. Having open, honest discussions with one another is table stakes for profams and forms the foundation upon which the complexities will be navigated together, potentially becoming very rewarding rather than extremely detrimental.

Ask yourself, what is the motivation behind becoming a profam couple? What skillsets do you have an as entrepreneur versus those that your partner possesses? The more complimentary those skills are, the better.

Ideally, learn how to fight productively before embarking on a business venture together. Objectivity can be comprised as conflicts from home can seep into conflicts from work and vice versa. “Rarely fighting” in and of itself is not a marker of a great relationship, at work or at home. John Gottman’s work has taught us that “effectively repairing” fights is the real marker of success in relationships.

Problem-solving and decision making are essential to running a successful business. Check that you are unimpinged in your approach and, ultimately, your perspective. Are you deferring to, or on the contrary, opposing your partner’s perspective based on last night’s amazing tryst under the covers, or was last night’s huge fight over the socks on the floor a factor that led to your stance? Taking the time to think through how you arrive at your opinions is important in family owned businesses since objectivity can be compromised by the dual roles that you play.

Many a profam couple have lamented about losing their romantic spark because the only thing that they ever seem to talk about is business. It’s hard to keep a work-life balance, but having your partner as your co-founder can now make that balance even harder. Creating boundaries such as prohibiting one another from talking about work during the hours of 7-9 p.m., for example, can create the space necessary to engage with one another as partners again.

Creating a business is not unlike having a baby — it requires lots of dedication, patience, love, and sleepless nights. If you are ready to embark on this tumult together it will need lots of attention and heart, those very qualities that you led you into considering this union in the first place!

Can You Really Be Friends With Your Boss?

A therapist weighs in on whether or not your manager-employee friendship is actually healthy.

Editor’s Note: Strong relationships are at the core of a happy life, but sometimes, dealing with the people in our lives is tricky. That’s why Thrive Global partnered with The Gottman Institute on this advice column, Asking for a Friend. Every week, Gottman’s relationship experts will answer your most pressing questions about navigating relationships—with romantic partners, family members, coworkers, friends, and more. Have a question? Send it to!

Q: Can you really be friends with your boss? Is it healthy for your relationship at work?

A: Respect and trust, the foundations of friendship, are abundantly present in healthy boss-employee relationships. These qualities can be very beneficial for boss, employee, and the workplace in general.

So yes, you can be friends with your boss. But there’s a catch.

Research shows that employees with friends at work are happier, healthier, and more engaged in their jobs. At the same time, while they perform better, they also have more conflict and more emotional strain in their professional relationships. And when the friendships go awry, productivity worsens.

Even in the closest of relationships, you will need to set boundaries. These boundaries define the depth of closeness within the relationship — and can be key in preventing the pitfalls of workplace friendship while maintaining the integrity of its value. Healthy boundaries between a boss and an employee are different than those between close personal friends.

Although healthy relationships have strong feelings of trust, confiding personal information — such as secrets, romantic, or otherwise — might not be in the best interest of both boss and employee. This is because what is shared about private matters outside of work may impact perception inside of work.

Information shared impacts how people view each other. We Homo sapiens are notorious for making quick judgments and generalizations about the other, where context isn’t always honored. Perception becomes reality. So tread carefully.

For a boss, there are other variables to consider regarding the closeness that defines the friendship with an employee. There is a risk that the team views a boss as playing favorites at work if there is an obvious special closeness shared. This may create jealousy, feelings of a lack of professionalism, and even resentment within the team dynamic.

Boundaries are different between a friend-boss and a friend-friend in the ability to say “no.” It’s likely not in one’s best interest to tell a boss that something can’t be done. In friendship, hopefully, the impact of refusal can be less potent. Friends have the ability to take time from one another when there is conflict. However, when working together, the luxury to cool things off may not be available.

Some would say that an equal meeting of the minds between people can’t really occur when there is a power differential. When someone is in a position of authority that involves formal performance evaluation and reward, financial or otherwise, the ability to be friends is compromised.

So, curious reader, friendship is a wonderful thing and its presence in workplace situations can have a positive impact. The relevant question is, how close is too close?

The answer lies in appropriately managing boundaries.


Having Work Friends can be tricky but its Worth It (Seppala & King 2017, Harvard Business Review):  people with best friends at work are happier, healthier, more engaged in their jobs. In other cultures, it is not unusual to vacation with a co-worker; in America is it rather uncommon. While people with friends often “perform better” they also may have more conflict and more emotional strain in their relationships because they may encounter work conflicts.

Job Stress, job performance, and social support among hospital nurses (AbuAlRub 2004, J Nurse Scholarsh): Questionnaire used to collect data on nurses work stress and performance. When nurses had “perceived social support from coworkers”, they had improved job performance. Low and high levels (but not moderate levels) of job stress resulted in better performance (i.e. U shaped curve).

Workplace Friend and Employee’s Productivity: LMX Theory and the Case of the Seoul City Govt (Song, 2014, International Review of Public Administration):  Workplace friendships can increase satisfaction and performance in the workplace. Better quality friendships improve attitudes more than “friendship opportunity”.

Workplace Relationship Quality and Employee Information Experiences  (Sias, 2006, Communication Studies): Better quality relationships between bosses and employees was correlated with increased communication and information transmission from boss to employee. When colleagues had better relationships, they transmitted better quality information to their co-workers and had better workplace satisfaction.

The role of social support in process of work stress: a meta-analysis (Viswesvaran, Sanches, Fisher, 2002, Journal of Vocational Behavior): Social support at work decreases work strain, perceived stressors, and “moderated the stressor-strain relationship”. However, social support is not necessarily utilized when stressors are present.

7 Things to Do to Reclaim Yourself After a Breakup

Going through this process will help you find out who you are now and prepare you to love again.

Editor’s Note: Strong relationships are at the core of a happy life, but sometimes, dealing with the people in our lives is tricky. That’s why Thrive Global partnered with The Gottman Institute on this advice column, Asking for a Friend. Every week, Gottman’s relationship experts will answer your most pressing questions about navigating relationships—with romantic partners, family members, coworkers, friends, and more. Have a question? Send it to!


Q: I recently got out of a 10-year relationship with my boyfriend and am trying to adjust to getting back to the single life, but I’ve found it difficult to feel like myself again. Where do I go from here and how can I start anew and reclaim myself after a difficult breakup? — G.L.

A:   Of course it’s difficult to feel like yourself again! You’ve had a major life shift. Ending a long term relationship is a death of sorts and involves moving through the grieving process. What you’re feeling is very common in the aftermath of a separation.

Difficult breakups rattle us at the core and disconnect us into isolation. Here, the person who was supposed to be your life partner is no longer. And there you stand aware of this void and the mourning process begins.

Now, to find “you.”

Take the best possible care of you. Now is a great time to reflect on what you’ve learned from this past relationship. Is something more important to you in a partner than you originally thought, like a personality trait or lifestyle choice?

Taking this time to “get on the balcony” and understand what happened between you and your ex can really help you grow and be a preventative measure moving forward. All that you have gained over the last ten years of experience from your relationship needs to be synthesized into the new you. And this newly integrated wisdom will help you build the foundation of who you are today, which will come out in small and big ways as you seek hopeful new experiences.

Here are some suggestions to reclaim yourself.

Turn towards yourself

Give yourself time to feel and be patient that you will feel better. Be gentle and loving and embrace radical self care.

Seek support

Talking to close, trusted friends can be helpful in making sense of your “new normal.” This is also a great time to start counseling. An objective other can help you understand what you see on the balcony of reflection.

Learn something new

Pick up a new hobby or learn something new, like a language, painting, drawing, skiing, or yoga. This can engage the brain and/or body in different ways.


Get the body to release those positive endorphins. For example, hiking in the beauty of nature is very therapeutic.

Try to laugh

Oh boy, is this the best medicine. Go to a comedy show or see a funny movie. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh.


Write to make sense of your inner world. Writing can be very useful in exploring the many emotions that you may be be feeling. Emotions are like waves, they can rise in intensity but they also fall again, understanding this process can support your emotional regulation.

Find the magic in everyday life

There is wonder all around us. It’s up to us to see it. Connect with your five senses. If you are blessed to have children or pets around you, take a moment and play. They are wonderful guides for us grown-ups, helping us focus on the here-and-now rather the there-and-then.

You are not who you were 10 years ago, but if you allow the grieving process to teach you, you will come out at the other end a stronger and wiser you. Going through this process will help you find out who you are now and prepare you to love again.

How to Handle a Co-worker Who Acts Like Your Boss

It’s a multi-step process, but works like a charm.

Editor’s Note: Strong relationships are at the core of a happy life, but sometimes, dealing with the people in our lives is tricky. That’s why Thrive Global partnered with The Gottman Institute on this advice column, Asking for a Friend. Every week, Gottman’s relationship experts will answer your most pressing questions about navigating relationships—with romantic partners, family members, co-workers, friends, and more. Have a question? Send it to!


QHow do you handle a co-worker and peer who acts like she is your boss, continually making work for you or ordering you around? My frustration has made it difficult for me to be impactful in my job. How do I resolve this without making things awkward or sounding like a whiner? —A.G.

A: This is indeed a difficult situation. You’ll have to address this strategically — it’s going to take a multi-step process, and a bit of patience.

What I’m sensing is an issue that has manifested as a lack of trust between you and your colleague. The goal is to establish more trust, which will either cause her to change her behavior toward you, or enable you to have a necessary conversation with her.

Trust does not get built overnight. So start by making attempts to positively connect with your colleague. For example, make an effort to ask her how her weekend went and show genuine interest in her as a person. An occasional lunch or coffee break can also be useful in developing collegial relationships. At first, it might feel awkward to make these attempts, but this awkward is better than the awkward you mention in your question.

A relationship built on trust will surely make it easier to have that difficult conversation with her since a more informal connection between the two of you has been established. Difficult conversations are often essential to repairing conflict, either overt or covert. And repair is essential to — you guessed it — building more trust.

By getting to know your colleague more informally, you will find out about her personality and her reality. Such a concerted effort to build the relationship, without addressing her behavior directly, will make all the difference in determining why she treats you the way that she does. Is this a personality quirk (does she behave this way with others, too)? Is she just a wanna-be manager playing a role that she wants? Has management, unbeknownst to you, asked her to play this role? Does she feel that you have it out for her (which may be her reality)? Does she believe that you aren’t pulling your weight at work?

As you make time to get to know her more informally and trust builds, her behavior may start to shift. And if it doesn’t, that’s ok, too. A relationship built on trust will surely make it easier to have that difficult conversation with her since a more informal connection between the two of you has been established. Difficult conversations are often essential to repairing conflict, either overt or covert. And repair is essential to — you guessed it — building more trust.

The repair process requires collaborative communication. If her behavior doesn’t change, first tell her that you value her as a colleague, including her leadership (a nice way of framing her tendency to boss you around). Then, express that you have a difficult topic to bring up to her about how the two of you interact. Approach her in an open, non-defensive way so that she feels that you genuinely want to have a great working relationship together. This means using “I” statements and avoid criticizing her — speak to her behavior rather than who she is as a person. For example, “I’ve recently wondered about the work that you’ve delegated to me. I’m confused because my understanding is that we are in a non-managerial relationship. Do you see this differently?”

Make sure that your tone of voice is curious, rather than angry. And invite her to give you feedback. Ask her if she has concerns about your performance and ability to manage your own work. She may not recognize that her behavior towards you communicates that she doesn’t trust that you are capable of managing yourself. On the flip side, get ready to hear some feedback that might expose some blind spots that you have.

The thing about trust is that it is never a definite. We need to continually work to build it in our professional relationships to keep the connections we have fruitful.