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letters from katherine


What To Do When Your Husband Is Driving You Nuts

Often when I work with high powered women who are in long term relationships with men, they have a few grievances to share with me. Partnering and conducting life with another human being, no matter their sexual orientation is hard. But often, because we had such a different experience and different role models as we grew up, the heterosexual partnership can be challenging to navigate. The toxic stereotypes that were ingrained into our culture that we are currently uncovering can lead to arguments, grievances and divide. This happens particularly for women stepping into new arenas in their leadership. The cultural expectations shift when we do things that haven't been normally done. And, much to all of the dismay of every lady, we really can't do it all.

The issues that often come up in conversations with my clients revolve around partnering on finances, parental duties, house duties, time and schedules. And all of these arenas are challenging to navigate no matter what your life dynamic. But, what do you do when you come up against the same arguments and irritations again and again?

Here's my advice: You sit down and talk about it. A lot.

You don't fight about it. You talk about it. And, here's how you do that:

First. With your partner you set the stage for a healthy conversation. You say "Hey love, I have some things I'd like to chat with you about. Is now a good time, or can we make plans to chat soon?" (You never know what mental space some one is in, and offering to chat now in the moment or at a later date lets your partner tell you how they are doing and if now is a good time.)

Second. Talk about the issue from your perspective. Use your "I feel" statements. Say, "This is how I am feeling/experiencing {fill in what is happening}.

Third. Listen. Ask your love what's happening for them and what he needs. Maybe this is something that hasn't occurred to him before. Or, maybe he has found himself leaning back into old patterns that he knew as a kid. Maybe there are other things going on that you haven't considered yet. Ask him about what he needs moving forward.

Fourth. Ask for what you need. Offer solutions. Ask for your partner to be a partner. Be a partner to your partner. Be curious about any dynamics in your relationship that feel outdated or not really helpful to you.

Fifth. Do this often! Find time in your conversations to check in and talk about how things are going. You are in a working relationship and that means actively partnering on all the things that happen in your lives.

Sixth. Go do something fun! Spend time doing fun things together. You didn't get married because you wanted a business partnership (which those can be fun too). You got married because you wanted a life partner to share your life with. And part of your life is to have fun and enjoy each other's company.

And, while all of these steps feel like they are tied up with a nice little bow, remember that life is messy. Sometimes these conversations won't go well. It might happen that you will be firmly connected your stance and your husband will be to his. And occasionally you won't come to a conclusion during the first conversation. Don't give up on figuring out how to make it work together.

Here's to healthy partnerships, leaders.

With love,


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Katherine Phifer









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