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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ...  (More)

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How Does Silicon Valley’s Culture Affect Your Marriage?

Uploaded: Apr 28, 2017
I had the great pleasure to interview Ron Weissman, an extremely accomplished man in all of his seven careers (look him up online). Ron is currently an Angel investor, and in my new book (that many of you gave title ideas for—thank you), the heroine falls in love with an Angel investor.

Ron was easy to talk with and answered all my questions about the life of an Angel. Ron and his wife have been married over 40 years. He says the key to marital success is humor. And he teased me about ruining a perfectly good romance with SV types!

After we met, Ron sent me a presentation he prepared called The Angel Economy in 2017, and a few things stood out to me regarding couples here, even though it wasn’t geared for that.

Here’s part of the list Ron created about the culture of SV:

Risk taking
Networking 24/7
Long-term loyalty to network, not to companies
Engineers are heroes
Everyone is a foreigner
Cultural rebels: Anything Goes

And here are items from his slide on the Dark Side of SV:

We live in a bubble and believe our own hype
Cult of personality/CEO as Hero
Lack of intellectual diversity
The cult of Perpetual Adolescence

Do you recognize yourself or your spouse in any of these descriptions? The first list consists of what has brought amazing products and services to the world, and the Dark Side is what causes the SV blinder syndrome (think of a horse).

However, I would say that all of the items on both lists may have to do with unhappy and disconnected marriages or relationships around here. Unless you focus on your marriage and make it stronger—every day.

Being constantly work focused doesn’t allow a partner in. Believing you’re bigger than your britches—and that money or creating new things makes it so—doesn’t equal intimacy. Coming in your front door as though you’re the big Kahuna—and you are at work—and expecting your family to hop-to doesn’t bring about closeness and make room for the love in your marriage and family.

Many people come to SV from all over the country and world to live and work here—and find it very hard to make friends because everyone is so busy making sure they are even more successful and that their kids are, too. I know I sound a bit harsh saying that. I urge you to slow down and bring a newcomer into your circle. You were a newcomer once, too, even if it was a while back.

I’ve written about the perpetual adolescent before. Jung called him Puer—the eternal boy. Fun, engaging, playful, and full of ideas—but quickly losing interest and/or chafing against the responsibilities when it comes to being a husband, and perhaps eventually a father. The Puer fights against “being tied down” and “letting my wife know when I’ll be home” and “why do I have to do my share at home?” and “Why can’t I tinker on my projects for hours on end leaving you to your own devices?” and “I don’t want to change diapers” and “why do I have to babysit [his own kids?” and “Why is eye contact important?” There are women versions of Puer, too.

Puers want to “Go out drinking with my co-workers” and “work as long as I want” and “not have to tell her/him where I am, what I’m doing, or when I’ll be home” and so on.

The thing is, I know you are capable of an intimate (close, cherished, faithful and trusting) and loving relationship. And I want that for you. When loyalty is to one’s network, not a company, let your beloved be the furthest inner network you’ll ever have.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by RW, a resident of another community,
on Apr 30, 2017 at 10:07 pm

This is such an interesting topic for me. I work in public education and my husband works in the construction (with his hands, not as management). I actually had to google "angel investor" to know what that is.

We often find ourselves disconnected from those around us who are "typical" Silicon Valley. To start, we're the only people I know who don't have (and don't want) ipads! We're not rolling in money, we don't place much value in the business or tech world, we're not looking to climb any metaphorical ladders, we create a good work life-personal life balance, and we don't have kids (we're both in our 40s and have decided not to have kids).

We were both born and raised in the Bay Area, we own a little house, and don't plan on moving. But, it can feel isolating not to be a "typical" Silicon Valley type.

Posted by Native to the BAY, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on May 1, 2017 at 11:56 am

If you want to see what takes hold of SV residents look no further than the neat little fidget spinner that my kids have decided is the end all be all of the hour! in the fall it was bottle flipping. Yes it's not electronic and a much better use of one's "free" time. Yet by the level of intensity to have one or seveal has been non-stop in just one months time. What will be the trend of the hour next??

Posted by Robyn, a resident of another community,
on May 2, 2017 at 3:46 pm

To answer the question, "No".

Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on May 2, 2017 at 5:01 pm

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Hi RW, Native and Robyn,

Thanks for sharing your non-SV bubble lives with us. Diversity in any system makes it stronger.

Posted by ACG, a resident of Mountain View,
on May 3, 2017 at 1:10 pm

Silicon Valley's culture is not the end all, be all for this area. I think there needs to be more focus on Santa Clara Valley as a whole, not just this area as Silicon Valley. Not everyone in the area is a "techie" and we should be thankful for that. There's a lot of strength in diversity.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on May 3, 2017 at 4:21 pm

Very interesting topic, Chandrama. Would be great to get additional thoughts from you on this. This is a unique place and I've grown to love it (and had better to make it worth the personal and monetary stresses of being here!).

Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on May 3, 2017 at 4:45 pm

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Hi Resident, Please be specific as to what you'd like to hear more about. Thanks!

Posted by Some Companies Are Different, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 4, 2017 at 12:32 pm

I hate generalizations...My husband is a co-founder and CTO of a Silicon Valley tech firm. He's a good man--committed to a company culture that is supportive of employees, making sure they get time for their personal lives and families and community work--because when his employees are happy at home he sees they are more joyful, creative, and productive at work.

When he comes through the door at night, he lets us know he is happy to be home. He volunteers generously in our community and enjoys all of the good people he meets doing that outreach.

Yes. Some SV companies have a rat race culture, but not all of them. Many companies make it their policy to create a place where people thrive, and they find that their businesses thrive better. Almost two decades ago when my husband made the decision to start his company our children were babies. He and his partners agreed up front that their employees would always have time to have healthy lives and families. It was a very good call.

Companies need to make a profit, but they also need to contribute to society. That starts with treating employees with gratitude for their service and dignity.

Posted by down there, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on May 4, 2017 at 10:50 pm

Very jaded view.

It is easy to be generous if you have made it.
It is a dog eat dog competition for everybody else.
Gruesome and fierce, almost inhuman with everybody just out to gain an edge.
Kissing up and kicking down.
Intellectual diversity is here, it is just not considered to be of 'value'.

OK, there may be some good sides:

The most appreciated and valuable ones:
Everybody is super smart. intelligent and motivated.

Posted by jordanss123, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Jun 4, 2017 at 8:59 pm

The information you have posted is very useful. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by polesmith, a resident of another community,
on Jul 26, 2017 at 11:16 pm

polesmith is a registered user.

Thanks for the information you brought to us. They are very interesting and new. Look forward to reading more useful and helpful articles. Thank you.

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