Andrea and Scott Zieher
A cohabiting couple for almost a decade (they married last summer), Andrea, 34, and Scott, 44, also opened a business together seven years ago. Their New York City art gallery has two employees: them. Just the two of them. In one room. All day.
Why Andrea thinks spending all day with your spouse can be great: We get to skip the obligatory end-of-day recap—we know what the other person's been doing. We're also more comfortable socializing separately than other couples. If we didn't spend our days together, I might be annoyed if Scott didn't want to come to a party with me. But as it is, I just say, "Okay, bye!"
When Andrea says they got a major reality check: Before we opened the gallery, a lawyer drew up papers and asked us, point-blank, "What's the plan if your relationship goes bad?" We had to face the fact that a lot of couples split up, we could too, and what would that mean? So we chose a date every year when one of us can buy the other out. Not exactly romantic, but...
Why Scott believes togetherness leads to more efficient fights: We can't give each other the silent treatment. We're running a business; we have to resolve the issue and move on. In the past six years, very few of our arguments have lasted more than a couple of hours.
When Andrea says they stopped keeping score: We used to split domestic chores down the middle, and each person always felt like they were doing more. But when we tried that at work, we saw how silly it was. We're each better at different things: I do the books and Scott does the shipping. So we carried that idea into our homelife—I never walk the dog, Scott never vacuums—and things got so much better. We negotiate in a really healthy way.
Why Scott has doubts on that one: She's a much better negotiator than I am, so I could be getting screwed and not even realize it.
Why Scott swears neither of them has ever screamed, "Just go away!": We used to live in a 500-square-foot apartment, which certainly got claustrophobic. And we used to walk to and from work together, which was excessive. Now I go in an hour earlier and Andrea stays an hour later at night. And when it all gets to be too much, one of us finds a way to get some time alone—before any screaming starts.
Ian and Johanna: To feel needed