My boss' wife is complaining about his start up. She has been telling him that it is not working.

Today, my co worker stumbled on an email where his wife was writing an email to somebody letting them know that they have started couple counseling sessions.

Sales are hot and cold here and we have just hit a cold patch. I am having a hard time thinking through whether I be concerned with this situation, should I be?

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    Stumbled on an email from his wife?
    – paparazzo
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 14:06
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    I edited this slightly to try to focus it to be a bit more on topic, as it's picking up close votes.
    – enderland
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 14:31
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    It really depends on all kinds of professional and personal details about whether you should be worried or not about any of this situation. Its unlikely people will be able to judge for you, since they lack much of this information. Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 16:52
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    Just a couple of quick thoughts. While it not uncommon to have a more personal relationship to others within a start-up, I would say that from a professional stand-point, it is not your business. Stay out of it. Do not blur the lines. Just as a point of reference, it is very likely that any marital problems existed long before the start-up began and the fact that the wife is complaining is just a symptom of longer standing issues. It is likely that even without the start-up, she could be upset about something else. She has a right to be concerned about instability and say so to her husband.
    – closetnoc
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 17:03
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    There's nothing in this question where OP is asking what to do. Voting to reopen.
    – Chris E
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 20:34

5 Answers 5


A startup is normally pretty small and the stability and effectiveness (or lack thereof) of a single employee can have significant impact.

I would be more concerned that a coworker "stumbled on an email" that was quite personal. That strikes me as a symptom of a greater problem. Your boss' personal life really shouldn't be becoming gossip at your company, which is likely to do as much if not more damage than the actual events themselves.

Realistically, in a startup, you basically have money until you don't. Then it's game over.

Your main concern should be regarding the long-term financial viability of the company. If your sales are "cold," the questions you should be asking are more "how much cash reserves do we have?" and "what is our burn rate?" rather than "is my boss having marital issues?"

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    Sorry boss! I tripped, fell, and bounced off your keyboard a few times, inadvertently entering your password with my nose! Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 17:59
  • @enderland well, in a startup, they just could be all in the same office, a quick look on the screen when the boss is not on the computer and forgot to lock it (or just never lock it) can happen. Of course in bigger company when you don't put the foot in boss's office when he's not in this is very unlikely to happen.
    – Walfrat
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 8:15

Of course you should be concerned because personal problems can certainly affect a business, but that's not the pertinent question you need to be asking. The real question is "Is there something I can do about it?"

You really only have 2 potential answers to that:

  1. You can tough it out and wait to see what happens. That may be wise if you're still being paid like you should and being treated well. All companies have hot and cold periods so it may be worthwhile to endure the cold if you're finding it rewarding. We can't answer that for you.

  2. You can start hunting for another job. This may not be a bad idea anyway, at least looking. You may find something that you like better and has more apparent stability. You can always change your mind if you get some information that reassures you that things at work are headed in a positive direction.

The simple fact is that you can't predict how personal problems are going to affect your work (on your boss' side). Some people collapse as a result of their problems. Others throw themselves in their work and the business thrives as a result of the personal life being sacrificed on the altar of success. There's really no predictor.

There's a positive here though. A willingness to enter counseling shows that they aren't willing to just say "I quit." That says something about their character at least that.

Ultimately though, it's not of your business. I'd be more concerned about your snoopy and gossipy coworker. If s/he gossips about the boss there's a good chance that you get gossipped about too. I'd be careful of whatever you share with this unscrupulous individual.


You shouldn't be concerned about his problems any more than he should be concerned with yours if you'd be going through something similar. If the business is going as normal then there's not much to think about, but if you notice a substantial change in his behavior or his ability to run the company, then sure.

Being in a startup company in general, however, can be tough, roughly one in ten actually makes it, the others collapse before becoming a stable company. You probably know this already though. If you notice an increasing threat to the company's health correlated to the situation then you must evaluate whether you can afford immediate suspension or not if everything goes south.

Knowing that, you should always afford to be unemployed for a few months, but you should have that backup regardless of the format of the company you're working for or its threats. Everyone can lose their jobs out of nowhere.

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best, but don't spend too much time or energy worrying, it never helps. Dale Carnegie has written a lot about the matter, you can influence situations for the better by preparing but never by worrying.

I'd be concerned about how your coworkers are able to access and "accidentally" read private emails though, but that's a different subject.


You should always be concerned when working for a new startup.

It depends on what financial backing this one has but it is unlikely to succeed, not because sales are hot and cold (although that's not great). But because a startup where the owner does not have his spouses confidence and support is shaky ground.

In saying that, a tough minded boss who is committed and has the financial wherewithal can still make it a success. Only you would be able to make that judgement. I've seen startups crumble over spouses and I've (rarely, actually just one) seen them succeed despite the chap having an absolutely insane foul mouthed harridan as a spouse.


Do You think it will affect the bussiness?

If not, ignore it. If so, ask yourself another question.

Do you think the project is working and will work?

If not, start looking for a new job. You should have started yesterday, actually. If you like your boss, suggest them to leave the bussiness as calm as possible and finding the job as well. If the answer is yes, support your boss.

You can ask them "Boss, you seem worried. Is everything allright?"

It seems that both your boss and their significant other are working on that project so you can try to persuade the pessimistic one too.

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