It’s our monthly corporate finance meeting and we’re seated at the round oak table, going over spreadsheets of profit and loss, accounts receivable, revenue projections, taxes. I’m fully clicked into left-brain—since we have to do this finance thing, I might as well be as efficient as possible. I’m doing calculations.
“OK so if it’s $675 total and we’ve got 15 customers, the marginal per capita contribution is $25.” I turn to my colleague, the corporate VP and treasurer. “Do you think it will work to ask for another $25 per person?”
His eyes are glassy and he seems a bit dazed.
“You look beautiful in that headband.”
What is this, Anita Hill meets Clarence Thomas? I’m stopped dead in my tracks but I can’t go to Human Resources and file a discrimination suit. In fact, I have no legal recourse. Why? Because the crushed out VP and treasurer is my partner, my husband, and the father of my kids Joe. We run a sustainability consulting and transformational coaching business together. Ours is a 2020’s mom and pop shop.
Joe has never noticed my clothes, my hairstyle, or my lingerie for that matter, in a two decades of living together, but the headband looks damn good during the finance meeting.
It’s bad enough when sex harassment finds its way into the workplace. But it’s worse when business matters sneak into the bedroom.
You can imagine the scene. An amorous morning. A Sunday in spring. Fresh sheets, birds and frogs chirping. A tingly touch. Joe’s got the massage oil out—a rare treat—and the muscles in my shoulders are finally surrendering to his strong hands. I exhale. For this moment, I let somebody else’s shoulders hold up the world.
But suddenly I sense the focus leave Joe’s fingertips and I can almost predict what’s coming next.
“Hey,” he says, “Did you remember to fax the contract out to Laila? And we need to find time to talk about how we’re going to get Peter and Roger together next month in Detroit before the annual meeting. Did you download their email from Wednesday? I need a copy right away.”
Images of the Nike Swoosh and Ford factories flood my mind as body parts (mine, not Joe’s) rise to the occasion. My shoulders are up in a flash in their automatic salute to hold up my now full head.
I inhale again.
The contract we’re working on has more lawyers buzzing around it than vultures over a fresh carcass. The annual meeting has 57 details that I have to attend to by Friday. All formerly tingly extremities are back to business. Morning delight switched off, morning computer switched on.
Even the dog knows to keep his distance from the bedroom, but Joe and I can’t seem to train ourselves to keep our clients in the office where they belong. I call this work harassment in the sex place—one of our biggest occupational hazards. Love American style.
We’re not alone
Seed Systems, is the business I co-own and operate with my husband Joe Laur. Over more than two decades as spouses and business partners we thought maybe we were outliers. A little exotic. Most couples don’t actually work together do they?
Turns out, we are among millions of others who have to navigate home and work. As an article in Entrepreneur states,
“According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, 43 percent of small businesses are family businesses with 53 percent of managers in these businesses are identifying a spouse as the family member who is sharing day-to-day management.”
Really? But who do you go to for advice when work harassment in the sex place shows up?
Occupational hazards of working with your loved one
Over the course of this new series, Work Harassment in the Sex Place, we will explore what it means to work passionately with the one you’re passionate about.
To be passionately committed to future generations and the health of the ecosystems that their lives depend on.
To work together on the inner and outer work of systems change.
To bring our collective voice to the center of corporate power and work with many wonderful kindred spirits to reveal and heal the dysfunctional systems that have been wreaking havoc on our communities, our planet and our psyches.
To these revelations to envision new possibilities for living together in wealth, health, harmony and humor.
Come along with us on this journey. Subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss any of these articles. More importantly, if you are one of the millions like us that love and work together, connect with us. We would love to journey with you. And we can help.