Being a Marriage and Family Therapist in the Bay Area specializing in Couples Therapy Palo Alto, means I have the privilege to meet clients from very diverse backgrounds. One of them is the Silicon Valley background which is a culture in and of itself. Clients and couples with this background share some distinct characteristics: high achieving, hard working, intelligent, ambitious, and long working hours. Some people work so hard and long that they don’t even dare to get into any intimate relationship. While a small number of people are content with life without being in a significant relationship, many of us have the innate desire to want to connect with a partner. Because of the demand from work for time, it often creates a lot of challenges for those who work in the Silicon Valley culture to have successful and fulfilling relationships.
Palo Alto, being the heart of Silicon Valley, is one of those cities in which many couples struggle to have a healthy work life balance. Over the years of working with couples from that region, I’ve identified a few helpful ways to create and maintain a fulfilling and loving relationship in the long term.
1: Be Honest and Realistic with Yourself and Your Partner.
More often than not, working in Silicon Valley is a long term and heavy commitment. That’s true for the people working in the industry, as well as for the significant others. So it’s critical that couples be realistic about what they’re committing to professionally and how that will have a direct impact on their personal and relationship life. Otherwise, resentment and bitterness often become the natural by product.
2: Know Your End Game.
I’ve had clients complain about how “cut throat” and brutal the lifestyle working in Silicon Valley is. Working 80 hour weeks often is the norm rather than exception. Naturally it’s not a sustainable lifestyle, especially for those that are more family oriented. So if your goal is to experience that culture and get that on your resume, be concrete about your timeline. On the other hand, if your goal is to take companies public, then you must recognize that you need a partner that believes in your vision as well as is willing to make the necessary sacrifices. In the meantime, you also need to be work extra hard on the relationship to maintain a healthy and happy balance.
3: Communication (DUH…)
Literally 100% of the couples that I work with have some level of communication issues. For relationships to thrive in the Silicon Valley culture, having great communication is part of the successful equation. That’s because when time is the scarce commodity, it is crucial that the couple knows how to be effective and efficient in their communication to avoid tension, misunderstanding, and resentment building. One tip that I often give to couples is to over communicate. The reason being that I believe 95% of the time, conflicts arise from misunderstanding. And the best antidote to misunderstanding is over communication.
4: Define a Balanced Relationship with Your Partner.
When you’re unable to fully provide the essential currency in a relationship, TIME, you need to understand how you can still meet your partner’s needs in a straight forward manner. Talk with your partner about how you’d like to define and create a healthy relationship with them despite having less than the ideal amount of time. When there’s a genuine gesture to improve and the desire care for your partner, it tends to create a positive chain reaction in the relationship.
Kin Leung, MFT – Individual and Couples Therapy Palo Alto