What you’re about to hear is an unscripted one time counseling session focused on work for the purposes of maintaining confidentiality names, employers and other identifiable characteristics have been removed, but their voices and their stories are real.
We get along really great.
We just, we’ve had issues.
I’ve had a couple of Affairs.
We’ve filed for divorce.
We aren’t really doing that.
Now, it’s kind of just at a standstill and when you work together, how would you describe your working relationship?
We both know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
So like I know I’m Not good at the things that she’s good at.
And and I know that she’s exceptionally really good at what she does.
This couple has been together for about a decade and they own a winery and a restaurant.
Their intimate relationship is in shambles, their business relationship works.
But at this moment, it’s also very clear to them that unless they are able to save their marriage, most likely they will not remain busy.
I just I feel continually undermined.
The job is always been that place where I’ve been needed in.
I feel important a lot of the people that work for me are like an extension of my family.
There’s no doubt that you’re emotional and relational.
Derek comes with you to work.
Imagine going to work every day, and I’m really busy place and no one will make eye contact with you.
I mean, it feels like a breakup.
It doesn’t feel so how’s work?
We have not lived together in.
Gosh, two years in two years.
We were sort of just working together, not cohabitating at all.
And what happened?
Then that’s the first of her know that.
Well, it was the second but the first Affair happened before we started the business.
The second Affair happened during Start of the business.
He moved out during that.
So, you have not lived together for two years and you meet outside of work.
You have a relationship outside of work as.
Yeah, we’ll have dinner together or like, oh, come over.
We do have conversations about our relationship alone together.
It’s kind of how it operates right now.
And when you talk about your relationship, what do you talk about?
Either where we’re going, how we’re going to grow the things that have happened.
As far as communication goes, we haven’t communicated well, and so just trying to have more honest conversations with each other.
I don’t know about like about everything but you primarily process it and think about it or you live it.
And your business, you’re living it.
You have obviously invested energy, creativity Direction Vision.
You name it, and your personal relationship, you invest, or you just do Audits.
And now, I mean, I try to invest as much as I can, but we don’t really don’t spend that much time together. at all, so Any time that that I would like to spend more time together, he definitely pulls back a lot or becomes triggered more easily.
So it’s sort of like I have to pick and choose a little bit and you feed on probation. yeah, yeah, I never thought of it like that, but Yeah, they give you behave badly.
He takes a few more steps and and takes a nine-hour drive.
Yeah, that’s how he punishes you.
Or that’s how he protects himself.
And I don’t think.
Definitely is how he protects himself.
And a question that you would have is, what?
Where is our relationship going?
Yeah, right now, I don’t know any direction of any frayed, but is that a question?
Don’t, you know that your business is going?
So that’s a given.
Then you have to decide where is our relationship going?
And then you have to decide if regardless, of which direction it takes, if you will continue to work together, right?
That’s kind of the pieces, you clearly want her to work with you.
You’re not sure you want to live with her, you know, to you want to be in a romantic relationship or you’re not sure which kind of relationship you want to have with her.
Like, when we had filed for divorce.
I basically, for me at that point, I said, I’m just I’m not going to get myself locked into another monogamous relationship.
It’s I failed them all the time.
It would be a better option for me just to which is your first marriage second and the same thing happened the first time he with other factors as well.
Can I ask you?
How are you how old I am now?
38 and you 31 I got married when I was 21 the first time, I’m really good at keeping secrets, but I don’t like to keep secrets lot of pressure.
So I thought it would just be better to just live that life like an open relationship life.
Brought a lot of me feels at this point.
I don’t know that it’s something that she can be okay.
With like, we’ve been going to counseling for months and I don’t feel that anything is heading in that direction.
She wants what move back in.
You know, the I feel like she was once everything to go back to what it was like just, you know, our can you can talk to her monogamous relationship, you know, I’m just back to normal, like, what we would call normal and And I don’t want that.
What will happen is I’m going to go out and I will do the exact same thing again, and it’s too much work to keep a secret like that.
Not going to do it anymore because it’s too much work because it’s so hurtful, both in our hearts are But I’m going to go back to what you described before.
What have you been doing for this two years.
In the personal relationship of you.
Just kind of existed.
Like we would will hang out.
Go do things out to dinner.
Come to the city, you know, just stuff.
And what are you holding on to?
for me, it’s feels like freedom.
I get feels like I don’t have to do what someone else wants me to do.
But I get that.
But that doesn’t tell me why you doing if that’s so clear to you.
Why are you dragging this for two years?
I tried to get divorced filed for that everything.
She asked me, not to.
I think that he did not go through with the divorce because on some level he is not ready yet to Let Her Go from the business but that is never said explicitly and I don’t have a proof of that.
That is just my sense.
But you seem to be very clear in your business life.
Nobody pushes you around, you do what you want.
You, it’s been a major principle of your life.
What’s different here?
I love her.
I don’t love the business.
I mean, I started saying that a little bit, it was a good lesson for me to learn because when when that first business that I had that I did love so much.
I really like I remember that feeling like just like I felt like a thing that I was literally had love for and when it all ended I realized that it never love me back and it never would.
So that kind of grounded myself on the principles that have business and money will never love you back.
So don’t All of with either one of those.
Some much more.
I just treat it like a thing more successful because of it too, but I can’t do that to her because we’d her because I care about her because I do love her.
But you could talk to her.
You know, she uh, she knows all this.
Yes, but it’s like she’s sitting right next to me.
Get those weird to be, though.
Know what I mean?
Like, I do.
It’s just my biggest hang-up at this point, is that we’re just going to continue to like Go to counseling and like talk about the idea of all this stuff but never actually. put anything into play, you know, I mean, Because the personal aspect, from what I understand is on life support.
You could say that I guess.
You’re trying to make sure that it doesn’t die.
But it is in a state of survival.
It’s not driving mean, you can actually compare immediately because you leave your house, you go to your shop and in your shop on your business, you immediately see what energy does and that energy is not coming home.
In the situation of stable ambiguity, which is a term that my colleague, Terry.
Real often uses one can see two people that are too immature to make, or to remake a commitment.
But also too afraid to let go and go out on their own.
So it’s stable but it is completely ambiguous, hence.
They spent two years talking about the relationship auditing, it versus being in it, or investing in it.
And they know the difference because it’s exactly the opposite of what they have done in their business, which of course, is a successful business, by virtue of the fact that they invested a lot in there.
All kinds of resources that they don’t know.
To bring into their own private sphere.
I know that I can go home to her.
I know that I can invest all my energy into our and for a long time.
That’s what I did.
But I also know myself well enough to know that I’m going to do the exact same things that I’ve done in the past and that is what I’m going to have more fares.
Because what do they mean for you?
For the eight years that we live together.
There was never really a time that she came to me for sex.
It was always me coming her.
And that for me, that makes me feel unattractive.
Like, you know, why?
Because I’ve had other women come at me or and I feels great, but, you know, so for eight years, not to not have someone pursue use after a while.
It doesn’t take a whole lot.
Another woman to say, oh, hey, you know, I really think you’re hot.
I want to do this in this nastiya and you’re like, okay, let sounds great and now What’s your experience with her sexually, are you intimate together?
Are you sexually together?
No, because we both decided.
It’s too complicated right now.
To include that we tried it made things very uncomfortable.
Explain it sucks a while ago and it was, it seemed to create more problems than it solves.
She’s very upset about it for a long time.
Like on her side.
She wanted to talk about it Non-Stop and for me it was turning into such a big ordeal.
That was like, wow, like I wish I’d never done it in the first place because it’s now like all we do is talk.
That’s all we talked about and So finally came to a point where she just said.
We just need to make a decision if we’re going to have sex.
We’re not going to have sex and I said, I don’t think we should because it’s too it’s too much of a production like it became too.
Big of a thing like and just froze more discomfort for me than it was even worth doing.
Yeah, I want to do, I tried to have a conversation with him about us and sex a few times in the past few months and they were each time.
I had that conversation.
He was extremely uncomfortable like, He could, he just he didn’t want to talk about it at all.
And so, that was kind of just where it left off.
Like I didn’t want to push him too far and you have to approach him.
I don’t, I didn’t even think of to just approach him, like, I felt like because we hadn’t had sex in so long that we there should be a conversation about it beforehand, had that was my thought process.
What a strange idea.
Strange thought I’m referring to.
Is that two people talking about all the obstacles and all the reasons for why they don’t want to be together.
Doesn’t always lead them to them.
Want to be together at some point.
You need to reach out if you want something to happen and just talking about why you’re not reaching out, doesn’t make that happen at the same time part of why she wants to talk about the sexual encounter that they It’s because for her, it changes who is coming to work.
The next day.
She still, the wife.
Is she the business partner?
Do they have a romantic relationship to the heaven intimacy with each other?
Or are they just discussing project Staffing and spreadsheets?
so, You sitting here, you hold hands as if you know, your life depended on it, from the moment, you walked in, but you’re not going to be sexual.
But yet you’re not going to let yourself be too interested at this point.
In other people, if I understood your correct.
Yeah, she asked me not face, right?
So, you’re going to choke on your own juices here.
This isn’t make sense.
And you have a couples therapist as a way to kind of maintain the life support so that it doesn’t really come to a resolution in One Direction or another.
And the business is doing really well, but not the relationship and it’s two years of this.
What are you going to do?
Because this is not viable.
It’s like talking about opening a business, but not doing it.
You either are in your relationship.
You’re in your marriage, the same way that you’re in your shop.
And then you act accordingly rather than observing it together analyzing it, taking it apart.
And squeezing the life out of it.
Yeah, at this point.
Who knows where he’s at?
And he may just be, this is way too complicated.
We don’t completely understand why you keep going home for dinners or come to the city or dual.
I mean, of course, you do it, because you enjoy her and because you attached to her.
But in a way, neither of you is allowed to move.
Everybody here has to wait and somehow you’re able to keep that separate from the shop and on occasion.
You have an argument that kind of brings energy, a bit of friction.
Otherwise, the whole thing is rather, huh?
so, That capture it.
Or am I missing pieces?
No, I think God’s.
Yeah, they all did it nailed it.
Okay, and you’re more attached and you would like to be Yes, not because you don’t want to be attached but you’re more attached and it’s comfortable for just getting up and going because if you were clearly decided she would have pursued with the divorce, you know, in the realm of of emotions, you used to living it to the women, basically, then you present yourself as cool guy.
And it’s a fake image, by the way, just lots of things happening inside of you, and it’s great.
And why do I say that?
Because non-monogamy is not an answer to those things.
It may be a life choice for a lot of things but it doesn’t resolve this Quagmire you’re in.
You know, we it’s like two different stories.
Well, your goals are just made, such a good point about.
I like, I have just been like, and I think you have to kind of just like, just just Treading Water waiting for something to happen, but it’s not just gonna happen.
Like, we actually have to live it and do it and make it happen.
Not in five years from now.
Like putting action to things as what would the action we want to see.
Like I don’t I don’t have any of that right now.
I don’t, I don’t want you to come.
Just come home right now.
Like I said before, like I don’t like, I don’t, I don’t want that right now.
I don’t know if I even want that necessarily permanently, but I want like, I want the time to be able to, to actually. live it like, when you just Are at work or by yourself?
We kind of just nothing happens.
Just kind of sitting waiting around.
So you yeah.
So your whole life is pretty much waiting for him to figure out what he’s going to do.
A lot of it is.
Yeah, and your employees as well.
I imagine it’s a small shop.
So people are not even your employees.
You don’t maybe even call them like that.
You have a much more personalized relationship with them and they have lived The Saga of the owners for the last two years, but the last, the last few months, anyway, but not not, as I wouldn’t call it a saga, but maybe a walking on eggshells, a little bit, just Maybe a little lack of security and them as well.
Like where is this business going?
What will happen to it if they’d stay together, or if they don’t particularly if they don’t stay together.
I was very blunt with everybody when I told them that we’re getting divorced.
And obviously everybody asks, why and I’m become a fan of just laying it out there.
As I just said, I had an affair and that’s not enough because if you don’t answer it, then just rumors start.
So we keep a very open workspace where people feel comfortable.
Like, I always told everyone, you can tell me whatever you want.
So a lot of people, you know, Be an asshole and stuff like that, and let him vent it out on me and get it out.
And it’s like, that’s fine.
You know, you can, it’s it’s okay, you know, like they can they can feel however they need to feel.
When a married couple are also business owners and they’re going through major tumult.
The idea that their staff is not affected by.
It is not that different from parents who are going through divorce and think that their children are not affected.
It just doesn’t work this way.
And you want to stay in this shop idea.
Regardless of what happens between the two of you at this point?
Yeah, I do because because I’m proud of it because I worked so hard for it because I’m really good at it.
I have a really good team.
They’re like, I couldn’t imagine.
Working with anybody else or bringing anybody else in like and you don’t great team in, that’s what I want.
What would it take for me?
Like I’m doing it.
Like, I’m trying like, I’m supporting him.
I’ve I feel like I don’t know how much more I can do.
As far as actually, what you need to do is probably less for him.
I still have a life of your own as well.
Do you have any I’m trying?
I really am.
I I do I’m not I don’t go to the business on the weekends.
And so I always do my stuff which is good.
I don’t know.
I I want to talk shop and I want to talk sex.
Because the sex for him is a major part of why the relationship is fraught and and the shop becomes one of the main ways in which you stay connected when you lack the other connections.
Which one we doing first?
We can talk about the shop first.
But shop is finely chop away.
I always get so emotional about it because it just is like I’ve never had such a partnership like that we have in our business, never had that anywhere else and it is it is a little sad that it’s not in our romantic relationship, but like in business, it’s So likes special to me.
Whose business is it?
Hours, but if you were to split, he would keep it.
I actually don’t care.
That’s what I honestly don’t care.
When we were getting when we were doing our divorce stuff.
They told her.
Why don’t you and your mom?
You guys can run the whole thing.
Like I don’t care.
I don’t care about it at all.
Like I’m not afraid to walk away from it all because I know I can just start it all over again and In two years, we’ll be back where I’m where I’m at now.
I feel like she is talk to her.
I feel like you’re aware.
I was with my first business, you’re in love with it.
But you’re in love with this thing, that doesn’t care about you at all.
I know you love it, but it’s never going to love you back.
Do we that he sees her love for their business as similar to the way?
He once was in love with his company.
Is a little too facile because what he’s emitting as well for himself.
As for her is that when you start a new company and you pour your soul in it, your heart in it, you give it your best.
You are indeed passionate about it in a way.
Erotic meaning, you feel imaginative, alive, present, focused, curious engaged.
And all of those are Dick ingredients, you know of liveliness and aliveness are part of what gives you a sense of identity, a sense of self-worth, a sense of accomplishment and those need to be acknowledged for what they are as well.
I think that you are, you’re associating, those emotions and wanting to connect with me through that.
I don’t know that it’s the business itself.
I think that you’re using that as an Avenue towards me, but it’s two completely separate things.
Like, there’s that thing that has its own identity.
And then there’s our relationship.
You know, I can see here in rattle off a thousand things that I enjoy doing with you that I miss doing with you.
But there’s also the whole picture of like my feelings towards you, which aren’t what they ought to be and and that sucks.
I’ve said it to so many people.
I wish I was just crazy about you.
Like I wish I just want to attack you all the time.
It’s like don’t I wish I did they don’t and it’s like, you know, and I just feel like, I feel like what for me, I’m hopeful that I would, but I don’t know how to get there.
You hopeful that you would become crazy about her.
Yeah, I love that.
I was just like but said that you would need to feel that she doesn’t just love working with you, but that she also loves making love to you.
Yeah, and I don’t, I mean like when it comes to the actual sex side of things, I’m talking about the ACT.
I’m talking about being desired.
I mean, I desire, you feel that she cares, deeply, you feel even that she loves, you feel that she admires you and your work.
Feel that she have depth deeply appreciates.
The professional partnership, the creative partnership, the business partner, the excitement of death, but she doesn’t get excited about you in the desire apart.
And that’s what this is about.
She says she does.
Like she says she does but there’s, you know, ten years.
There really hasn’t been a time where that was shown.
I mean to me Me like the like just being asked.
When are you when are we gonna have sex?
Again isn’t really sexy.
Like there’s nothing like that.
That’s what would be said to me.
Like we go so long without having sex and then it would just be.
When are we going to have sex again?
And I’m like, It’s not my job like you want it, get it, do something to get it.
And that’s and it’s been an hour is like it’s not even just that though.
Like I mean, there’s like a whole array of things and I love that.
She’s out doing her own thing now because the dependency that I felt in the past was just overwhelming.
It’s like it’s hard enough for me to live my life.
I don’t want to live your life for you too.
And you know, it’s like back then like when we were in a relationship it was like, you know, I’m hungry.
Okay, what would you like?
I don’t know.
Okay, how about here know a lot here?
Know, I hear how much, you know, it’s like, like I just felt like all of everything that she did hinged on me.
Like, and I had to make every single decision for us like every once in a while.
She’d be like, I want to go here and it’s like, oh, thank fucking God.
She wants to go somewhere.
Like I don’t have to be the one.
I don’t have to be the provider right now.
It’s a lot of work is what it is like, and it’s not it’s not fun work either.
You know, it’s just like, I just always felt like it was like, here’s my problem.
We can do about it.
It’s like nothing done doing anything about it.
Well, I can do anything about it at all.
You’ve heard stuff like that before, but I’m glad to finally hear you say it.
I’ve said it because it’s the first time I actually am experiencing some energy from you, get myself charged up here and there, huh?
Well, you charged up here on that.
That’s probably much better because the lifeless version of the I’m cool.
I’m Teflon everything, Rose off me.
Met with her tears is a deadly potion.
It really it won’t survive this.
You can do another two years of it, but you it you want recharge.
You need to recharge batteries if at all, okay, so I am very pleased to finally see you express something with energy.
If I see someone who is living with a lid tight on top, it immediately makes me wonder.
What is it?
That is being kept in the pot and so one has to go and go back into her in time.
Otherwise, he comes across as slick and everything rolls off of him and I’m not sure that that’s the true story.
That is the quality.
That is the effect that emanates from him, but Not the whole person.
I the more I asked him to speak and the more he stays on the same note.
He has told me everything in exactly the same note.
There is just no modulation even in his voice.
And for me, that is such a giveaway.
When the voice does not have any modulation.
It tells me how everything had to be flattened and things.
Get flattened often after they have been overwhelming.
So keep going because it’s not so simple.
You have your, you have your resentments and you have your your complaints and you have the things for which you have stayed out of the house for the past two years.
And they’re not just about, I want to be non-monogamous, they have to do with what you felt in relationship to her in which you felt that you were the battery pack.
And and work, because she has a set of skills that are so unique and separate and differentiated from you.
This is finally a Is where you can rely on her for something.
To the point where you say, don’t even show me do it yourself because that’s the level at which you rely.
And it’s such a relief to have her Excel and you be able to say to her, do it.
We’re getting somewhere.
I mean, it’s with you, we are, I mean, there’s stuff that we’ve talked about before mean it’s not this isn’t like new.
I get it going.
And bring up the new thing that you have not set.
There’s a lot here and I Been very patient, but now you could have to accelerate this is I appreciate that.
You’re doing like all these things on your own and everything and you’re like, you’re living a little bit.
But I mean there’s there’s still so many things.
I’ll give you an example.
Something that pissed me off so much the other day.
Piss me off to wear.
What I wanted to do was just go out, get my car and leave is, I love I love messing with everybody.
I love talking everybody.
I love it.
We went out to dinner the other night.
And and then when we went in I started messing with the waitress right away, and I’m like because the waitress was like just real happy all the time and I was like and I was like kind of just having fun with them.
Hey, how are you, you know like really going and and for me that was just a lot of fun, but you did a mom move there and I said, stop.
Okay, that’s enough.
But you know what?
It wasn’t enough for me.
I wasn’t done.
I was having fun.
And you said, no, no, you have to stop having fun now.
And you do that all the time.
You always were the person to keep me in.
I get it.
Pulled me back like, no.
No, that’s enough fun.
That’s enough fun.
And I got to tell you like not being around.
You like being able to like go out like, you know, go to go to a restaurant somewhere, like go.
Go in and start talking to people.
It’s so much fun.
But you say, no, no, you got to stop doing that.
If you don’t like it?
That just means you don’t like me.
If you’re saying to, somebody change that about yourself?
Okay, then change this and then do this.
Like, just just give up like, you don’t.
It’s a whole package or no package.
That’s literally the way I look at it.
Like it’s just Run of emotion.
Really I really do feel like that said to her at that moment.
I’m not done and continue do because because if I do that, she killed it.
Yeah, it’s dead.
It’s over and when you see, Mom move, its the container.
It’s like, okay, you’ve had enough fun.
Now, you need to stop.
The key sentence of this whole vignette is you did Mom.
Move on me.
I was experiencing Joy.
It doesn’t matter the specifics of the flirting of the waitresses.
I experienced something, and you put the lid on me, and this is where I begin to see the connection between his own relationship history and how he hears his wife and how he reacts to His wife says and thus to him and how the various stories of his childhood and his present come together.
And you can’t just say, honey.
I’m having my fun.
You have your drink.
I have my phone.
You can’t simply assert yourself without either I could in the past now.
Ah, no, I couldn’t in the past.
I just sighs.
I will always be the one to give up.
Always give up first.
And I think the reason for that is because of my mom because when one time I came home, I was eight years old.
I was complaining about this kid at school that always was in the karate and would hurt me.
And I was complaining about it and I was told right there.
I can’t hear, I can’t listen to this anymore.
I don’t want to hear complaints anymore.
I’m not going to listen to you.
If you don’t have something good to say and it was a combination of that.
And literally she was like anti-sexual.
Like she wanted nothing to do with sex at all.
Like we never talked about it.
It was something you avoid it with everything in you.
So I basically just I developed this second half of me where I would be myself over here, but then give my mom whatever she wanted.
Like, I would be the person that she wanted me to be.
I really wasn’t but I got really good at Faking It.
As I listened to him, one thing becomes imminently clear, is that in the marriage?
His wife has slowly become a representation of his mother, on both fronts, the person who’s squishes him and puts the lid on him and the person who is intensely anti-sex.
And I finally understand what sex means for him and why non-monogamy is so important to him because the non-monogamy becomes the marker of showing that I will never just have one woman, put all the rules on me.
So if I multiply them, I set the rules.
At work, he has a differentiated sense of her and therefore she can shine and he can comfortably rely on her and they can be wonderful business partners.
So when she says stop doing that instantly, I’ll stop because it’s like, okay, it’s not worth it.
It’s not worth making her uncomfortable.
But by doing that over 10 years, I’m just, I’m always giving myself up.
I’m not being myself, except Indian Affairs.
They become the place where you don’t have to be curtailed, contained or present a false self.
I’m very used to having Secrets.
It’s like ingrained in me.
It’s almost it’s almost uncomfortable to not have a secret.
That’s a PC, will need to learn by the way, in any relationship.
You will be.
I know because I’m getting there.
That package does a good leaves with you.
That doesn’t stay that.
Doesn’t belong just to this marriage.
Oh, I know.
So she relies on you for more than you care to, but you to rate for her and placate her more than she cares to.
Yeah, I don’t know how to not do that.
Okay, so It’s like I do yes, but if she’s about to become more independent and have a life of her own and decide which restaurant she wants to go on her own.
Then you have to work on that placating or when meaning that those are fundamental ingredients.
If you’re going to stay a couple.
Somehow they don’t interfere in your being a business, couple or business partners.
Because the defend the dependencies different.
And the order interdependence is different. her skill set is, so differentiated from yours and yours from hers that you don’t experience her being too dependent and you don’t experience him being too fake.
You get the authenticity, you don’t get at home and you get the confidence, you don’t get at home.
At this moment, I am well aware that we are arriving 30 end of one session and that there are still many things to cover and uncover here.
So I’m thinking about what is a place of departure that each of them can take in the hopes that they can either.
Preserve, protect their relationship, their romantic relationship and improve it knowing that at this moment, the professional partnership.
Business Partnership is likely only to continue if the marriage does.
Can I throw one out?
Sure, you know how the entire session he’s had his hand on you.
On occasion at home.
Just take the hand under your shirt.
While you’re telling him about the stuff you’ve been doing.
Okay, can you be that bowl?
I’m not as I’m not I think his perception of me is different than what is actually me.
I am I would agree and if you can do that one in the office because you’re the only ones were actually allowed to have an affair in the office.
I mean come to think of it you are co-owners right?
Who happen to also be partners in life.
They can they not even transgressive if they have an affair in the office, but that’s what you need to do.
That’s the energy.
Esther perel is a best-selling author speaker and host of the podcast.
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