Power couples advise newly-engaged ‘Morning Joe’ cohosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on working together after the wedding
Your soulmate could very well be your cubicle mate.
“Morning Joe” co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski announced their engagement last week – but they’re certainly not the only coworkers getting hit with Cupid’s arrow.
CareerBuilder’s most recent Valentine’s Day Survey found that office romances are at a 10-year high, with 41% of workers admitting they’ve dated a colleague. And these aren’t just cliched flings between bosses and secretaries, or sloppy holiday party hookups: 30% – or nearly one-third – of these cubicle connections have led to marriage.
Experts say the blurred line between the bedroom and the boardroom is to be expected, especially considering many Americans are working longer hours, taking fewer vacation days and retiring later than ever.
So where else are you gonna find love these days?
“I tell my clients to get off the data apps for a minute, and look around your workplace,” relationship specialist Rachel Sussman told Moneyish. “Dating someone at work can have pitfalls, but it can also work out to be amazing.”
She added that, “The research shows that the more a couple has in common, the greater the likelihood that the relationship is gonna last. And that’s why you will often see two doctors, two lawyers, two therapists or two journalists married to each other. Someone outside of the profession doesn’t always understand the unique pressures your job has.”
But the power couples who have stuck together have also done so by investing in their romances the way they would invest in their businesses.
Lisette Sand-Freedman, the CEO of the public relations firm Shadow, met her romantic and business partner Brad Zeifman while they were both publicists at different agencies. They launched Shadow together 10 years ago, and they now have two children; Dylan, 3, and Chloe, a year-and-a-half.
“In doing our jobs together, we more readily reveal things about ourselves and our emotions in perhaps a less contrived way – in how we deal with high-pressure situations, how we exude empathy with other staff members, how we share our talents,” she told Moneyish.
Sand-Freedman has some marriage advice for “Morning Joe’s” newly-engaged couple, which we’ve listed with lessons learned from other dynamic duos that have mastered mixing business with happily ever after.
- Give yourselves space. Because you’re spending time together both at work and at home, you’re going to get on each other’s nerves if you don’t each take a little “me” time. “The way we’ve structured the business is such that we aren’t necessarily working on the same things, nor in the same parts of the office,” said Sand-Freedman. “When the day is done, we can have a conversation together about our days, and not already know what the other is about to say.” Melinda Gates shared the same sentiment in her 2014 TED Talk with Bill Gates, noting they travel separately. “I think we have a really collaborative relationship. But we don’t spend every minute together, that’s for sure,” she said.
- Set boundaries at work and at home. “Don’t just assume that if you work with your partner, you can pick up your phone any time, read email any time, and not be mindful about spending time in the relationship,” said Sussman. And Sand-Freedman agrees. “We have accepted the reality that owning a company with your other half means you can throw work-life balance out the window,” she said, “but that said, we are as mindful as possible while at home and with the kids, and unless it’s necessary, we keep the work talk to a minimum.”
- Schedule date nights. Former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama went out together in between government engagements, like their post-election 2009 dinner and a show in New York City. Critics flipped, but Obama said that, “I am taking my wife to New York City, because I promised her during the campaign that I would take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished.” And Mark Zuckerberg reportedly drew up a relationship agreement with wife Priscilla Chan, vowing to take her out once a week and spend 100 minutes of alone time together each week away from the office or their home.
- Respect your coworkers. Keep things professional, and skip in-office PDA. “Nobody wants to feel uncomfortable, and nobody wants drama,” said Sussman. She also recommends that Scarborough and Brzezinski set a meeting with their employees and colleagues to reassure everyone that nothing at work will change. “If you’re directly reporting to Joe, and Mika does something that pisses you off, or you don’t like the way Mika handled a story, you need to be able to still come to Joe and discuss that – and vice versa,” said Sussman.
- Do regular relationship check-ins. Eventbrite cofounders and entrepreneurs Kevin and Julia Hartz did quarterly reviews of their relationship when launching their business. “We said we’ll try it out for the first quarter, or the second quarter and check in. Because what you don’t want to do is sacrifice your relationship,” said Kevin Hartz. If something between you two isn’t working on or off the clock, regular reassessments keep things from festering beyond the point of being resolved.
- Communicate. Sussman said the most common office romance dilemma is talking about work or issues that come up – such as if one partner doesn’t like the way another is handling an assignment. “You have to be upfront and transparent with each other,“ she said. And Sand-Freedman agrees. “At the heart of it, I think it truly comes down to communication,” she said. “Maintaining that open dialogue requires respect and patience, but for all that we put in, we’re rewarded tenfold.”
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