Old Lady. Young Woman. What do you see?

“Without contraries is no progression.

Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate, are necessary to human existence”

William Blake

Dear Friend!

Marital research shows that 69% of conflicts amongst couples are perpetual.*

They are simply not resolvable.

They will never go away.



Or realistic?

Statistics also show that 70% of co-founder relationships fail (and therefore the company).

The overlap in percentages suggests that those co-founders are simply giving up in the face of perpetual conflict.


A reason not to partner up in the first place?

Or rather is this perpetual conflict a healthy sign of two independent human beings with all their individual wants, needs and habits?

Of course there will be clashes….

The key therefore is to manage these “perpetual” issues in a constructive, respectful and positive environment.

To allow differences and learn from them.

To shift from a negative perspective of difference and conflict to a mindset of it being natural and indeed generative.

To fully allow that two people can have different ways of seeing things and that both can be right.

Not sure?

Take a look at the picture below.

What do you see?

Your mind will instantly leap to either an old lady or a young woman.

Even when you manage to see the other image your mind will keep going back to the image that you naturally see.

So hold this thought in your head: your partner might see one thing and you might see the other.

Neither is wrong.

Appreciate that, and you are on your way to managing and honouring those perpetual conflicts in a respectful, positive way.

With love,
Sanja x

PS For an insight into the journey I take my co-founders on to learn to manage their perpetual conflicts keep reading below.

*The Gottman Institute

A Co-founder Journey

I work with co-founders to help them to create the best possible relationship: so that they can focus on the work of their company rather than battling each other.

Equally applicable to all relationships.

1. Know Thyself.

It all starts with self-awareness. The first and most fundamental part of the work is to understand yourself. Not as easy as it sounds because most of how you behave and react is subconscious.

To get clients thinking I ask them to start to notice themselves: how do they show their emotions ( easily, keep them hidden, dramatically etc ) how do they react to stress (keep it inside, blame others, look after themselves etc), what do they do in the face of conflict ( compromise, assert, collaborate, avoid etc) , what is their style of arguing (sniping, passive-aggressive, steam-rolling, smoothing over etc).

This stage is about understanding yourself and therefore having more choice. Taking personal responsibility for flexing your natural style. Maybe compromising automatically is not always the best idea? Maybe the sniping could be toned down? There is no judgement but just reflection over what alternative ways of being might bring to your partnership.

2. Know each other.

Then I support them to become aware of the other. What is the other ambitious about? What does the other dream about? What upsets them? What is their ideal day: working and personal? Does one feel scared in a conflict and the other invigorated? Does one want to sit and talk whilst the other prefers to bond over an activity?

This stage is about really creating an ongoing sense of curiosity and respect for the other.

3. Actively create a positive emotional field for all those perpetual issues and differences to sit happily in.

Together we look at various tools to create an atmosphere in which conflict is managed in a positive, functional way. This goes from the fundamentals of actively listening to the other, to commitments such as reducing personal insults during arguments or ceasing to stonewall the other and up to “mediation-lite” frameworks for surfacing issues.

4. Create a Founders’ Agreement

The final thing to remember is that change is constant and therefore this is a living document to be returned to, explored and updated throughout the partnership.

Et Voila!