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Relationships

Ask the Relationship Expert: I Can't Stop Acting Like the Boss With My Partner

Sometimes you have to take off your 'boss' hat.
Ask the Relationship Expert: I Can't Stop Acting Like the Boss With My Partner
Image credit: Tetra Images | Getty Images
4 min read

What happens when running a business gets in the way of your romantic relationship, or vice versa? In this new weekly column, relationship expert Marla N. Mattenson responds to entrepreneurs with love dilemmas -- because the hidden power of successful businesses are the stable, loving relationships behind the scenes.

Dear Marla,

As an ambitious woman, how can I find the balance between being powerful in business but softer in my relationship? Sometimes I feel like I'm bringing that drive home, and bossing my man around or barking at him. How can I best balance my own masculine and feminine energies?

Signed,
Ambitious Woman

Dear Ambitious Woman,

First, congratulations on being a powerhouse! We are a rare breed, and don't always get enough kudos for that. Ambition is often looked at as something that needs to be tamped down. That's one reason I don't believe in the idea of entrepreneurs trying to "balance" masculine and feminine energies. You need both, in their full expression, at different times. Being powerful in your business and softer in your relationship is what you're after, and that's really an issue of wearing different hats. I am a bad-ass entrepreneur in my business, so I put on my business hat. This may be a hard hat or a helmet, a top hat or even a baseball cap like mine. With my baseball cap on, I'm blazing a trail. I'm an innovator. Whatever comes my way, I'm going to get through it. I'm going to conquer it.

Related: Ask the Relationship Expert: My Partner Resents the Time I Spend on My Business

If I wear that hat in my relationship, I will bulldoze right over the love of my life. I need to take off that business hat, and put on my relationship hat, which is wide brimmed and sexy, slightly covering one eye. That hat reminds me to soften and be feminine in my relationship. By the way, the concept of being softer in a relationship also applies to men and same-sex relationships. Everyone who's super ambitious in their business needs to put on that softer hat in their relationship. They're not the CEO of their relationship. They're an equal participant. And they need to bring their loving selves to their union.

My partner Julian and I are also in business together, so we're always swapping out hats. For example, if Julian is hungry and working hard, and I have a few minutes, I'll make some food for us and serve him. When the situation is reversed, and he's got a few minutes and I'm hungry, he does the same for me.

Related: In a Relationship With an Entrepreneur? Here Are 10 Things You Should Never Say.

Sometimes women are afraid to be soft, because we're afraid of letting go of control. We think we're holding it all together -- we're holding our business together and our relationship together, and we think that if we let go of that control it's all going to fall apart. When, in fact, if you don't let go of control in your relationship, it's going to fall apart. There needs to be an opening for your partner to meet you in the relationship, to help you or fill a need. If I'm always in control mode and managing everything, then I don't get to experience Julian's amazing ability to love and nurture me.

When both people bring their loving, soft selves to their relationship, they both feel nourished and a deeper intimacy emerges naturally. That nourishment at home then stokes their business fire, and both areas of life just keep getting better and better.

How Women Can Build Stronger Relationships at Work -- and Actually Boost Their Careers