Sincerity Is How Power Couples Maintain Intimacy While Working Together
Gender roles were fixed and predictable for most of human history up until recently. Nobody wants to go back but there is a lot to sort out.
The dynamics of romantic relationships have changed significantly over the last several decades. There’s no longer an expectation that women have to play the role of homemakers. And men aren’t required to be the sole breadwinners anymore either.
Our new lifestyles offer us amazing freedom and possibility, but they also come with a lot more complexity, particularly for those of us mixing our careers with our relationships.
When I was growing up, my Dad had a strict rule -- no mixing business with family. I remember my Mom asking if she could help in his law office, but it was a firm boundary. This is all I knew about working with a romantic partner. You just don't do it.
Fast forward a few decades and as a busy entrepreneur, I’ve found myself working with my partner. And for the first three months, it caused a lot of friction in our relationship. Before we knew it, our pillow talk had turned into me venting about my clients or us mutually trying to unwind from our work day.
This is a typical dynamic for many of today’s “power-couples.” We’ve become effective at leading and creating together -- whether we are running a company or running a household -- but at the end of the day, we don’t know how to shift from business partners to intimate ones.
Working with my partner, as well as my overall relationship satisfaction, finally improved when I started studying from Londin Angel Winters and Justin Patrick Pierce and being one of the first to read their latest book, The Awakened Woman’s Guide to Everlasting Love. I had the honor of interviewing them for this article.
Their worked showed me that I was making one of the same fundamental mistakes a lot of power couples make when working together; one of them being that I was holding the expectation that my partner and I should feel attracted to each other while we are working together.
Winters and Pierce break down relationship roles into two states, Alpha and Omega. Alpha is work-mode: strategizing, corresponding with clients, planning and managing. Omega is romantic, creative and nurturing: the way you might feel when you’re caring for a child, cooking or immersing yourself in a creative project.
At any point in a relationship, there are three possible ways are relating:
- Alpha/Alpha (partners, leading and directing side by side)
- Omega/Omega (best friends, mutual support and focus on love and connection)
- Alpha/Omega (passionate lovers, a strong sense of attraction fed by polarity)
Working together as a couple means operating in the Alpha/Alpha dynamic. It can feel like, “I’m in charge." Then a voice, "No, I’m in charge.” But when it's managed correctly, it actually has the potential for incredible creation and harmony. It's the dynamic ideal for running a business or a household together.
Relationship issues arise when couples who work effectively together can’t get out of the Alpha/Alpha dynamic. Two Alphas are very unlikely to feel a romantic or sexual connection. That’s why you don’t need to feel attracted to each other during work hours. But getting stuck in Alpha/Alpha all the time ultimately ruins the sexual relationships of many power couples.
Romantic and sexual sparks only fly when you’re in an Alpha/Omega dynamic.
Omega/Omega can be just as toxic to a relationship. Think of it as, “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know. What do you want to do?” This can be nice for unwinding, relaxing and supporting each other -- but it won’t save or sustain a romantic relationship or a business relationship.
Usually, there is one partner who is a more “love-driven” being and one who is a more “purpose-driven” being. The partner who is love-driven is fundamentally motivated by relationship and connection (and is usually the one who is more sad when the intimacy starts fading). The purpose-driven partner is more motivated by success and drive.
Often, the love-driven partner will be the one who switches into Omega to restore polarity, but both partners are capable of making the shift.
As a couple working together, Alpha/Alpha during the work day and Alpha/Omega in personal time, is the ideal pattern. Intense creation in business and intense passion in relationship. Sounds pretty great, right? So how do we create this ideal balance?
When working together, Alpha/Alpha.
Step one: Avoid sharing all tasks. Delegate.
Then trust the other person to carry their weight. No nagging. No checking in. Those behaviors will lead to inevitable fighting, friction and power struggles.
A well-respected and successful power couple in Austin, Texas, Lynan Saperstein, founder of The Experience Experts and Austin Felton, founder of Entrecloud, found that in their relationship, it never works to treat one another like an employee. They figure out who is in charge of what, and they let the other person be in control of their own domain. They say that "allowing each other to work independently creates the most trust and surrender in the collaboration while keeping the highest level of relationship polarity."
Step two: Set clear work boundaries.
That means specific work hours and locations. No work talk when those hours are over. And keep career out of the bedroom and intimate spaces (yep, that means no laptops or emails in bed). As Pierce puts it, “When you bring work into the bedroom, you kick sex out.”
When work hours end, Alpha/Omega.
One partner has to be willing to make the transition out of the Alpha and into Omega. Alpha/Omega creates polarity and polarity creates intense attraction. This shift may tend to fall on the love-driven partner, but with practice, both partners can learn to shift in and out of either role.
Here’s how I learned to switch into the Alpha/Omega dynamic even after long day of working with my partner:
Step one: Feel into yourself.
As the more love-driven partner, it’s often up to me to notice when it’s time to shift into Omega.
Step two: Make the shift.
Change the environment and get present in the right-now moment. Get out of your head and into your body. Forget about work. Take a shower, do some stretches, dance, laugh and drop into pleasure.
Step three: Approach your partner.
The Alpha partner then has to turn off work mode and meet the Omega partner when they approach. When Omega comes out of a steamy shower looking relaxed, it’s time for Alpha to drop the phone and get present with their partner.
Step four: Don’t reopen the work door.
It’s as simple as that. At first, it might even require sitting in awkward silence at dinner if you don't know what to talk about other than work. Winters and Pierce told me, “If you’re having trouble connecting from this place, try pretending you just met.” Approach each other from that place of curiosity and openness. Remember how your first date felt?
Shifting habitual ways of relating as a couple takes time and practice. I’ve learned that having patience is essential. But so is taking conscious and consistent action. When mixing work and creation with romance and relationship, systems are needed keep the business thriving and the intimacy fresh.