Couple Q&A: Dr. John Izzo and Leslie Nolin-Izzo

Here, Sarah Treleaven will be that fly on the wall when she gets nosy with both parties in a relationship.

Today: Dr. John Izzo and Leslie Nolin-Izzo

Status: Married, eleven years

Q: You work together in your home. Describe the work that you do.

J: We own a consulting and training company [The Izzo Group]. Our mission statement is “Improving the quality of work and life.” I’ve written two bestsellers on personal growth and two on corporate culture.

L: He creates the products and I sell and manage them all.

J: One of the things we noticed early on is that we have complementary strengths. I’m a really great thinker and at coming up with ideas, but I’m a terrible manager and I’m terrible at making those ideas come to life, at executing them.

Q: Do you ever find it difficult to separate the details of your personal relationship from your professional life?

L: I think many of our conversations root around business and work, but then I also think that there’s many couples out there who don’t have a whole lot to talk about. I think it was something we struggled with in the beginning. How do you find your work-life balance?

J: Sometimes it’s midnight and we’re both still in work mode and so we have a meeting at midnight. Other times, you just have to say, “I’m not at work right now.” And we’ve gotten better at respecting that for each other.

Q: So does it give you more or less to talk about? On one hand, you can both relate. On the other, you must have a lot of the same stories.

L: That’s true, but John also travels and much of the time he’s telling me about clients he met or an event he went to.

J: I think that part of what really makes it work for us is that this has never been a job for us. I think some of the hassles of working together are overcome by the deep passion we feel for the work that we share.

Q: Has working together made your relationship stronger, or does it present its own unique challenges?

J: I think it’s always both, but you do have the sense at the end of the day that you’ve created something together. And that’s a pretty strong bond.

L: I think too often in marriage, you’re married to an individual and they’re a different person at work. Here, you get to see all of the other human being that you’re spending your life with – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

J: One of the problems people have in marriage is that they expect it to be bliss every moment, and that’s not the way it works. There are moments where you absolutely love this person, and there are moments that they agitate you a bit. That’s the way marriage is and that’s the way a business is.

Q: You seem very comfortable tangling those aspects of your life. But when John puts the empty milk carton back in the fridge, do you wait until 5pm to bring that up or do you barge into his office?

L: I bring it into his office and put it on his desk. (Laughs) I think there’s the odd time you’re miffed about something, but because you transition into talking to other folks, it diffuses it. Usually you’re not mad by the end of the day.

J: In general, I think men compartmentalize things more than women do. So I think Leslie is more likely to bring personal stuff in throughout the day. But you get used to each other, and you make these small adaptations. You figure out what the other person needs.

L: Most men don’t know where the laundry basket is, and John’s no different. But I think you learn to let those go because you see them working in their bliss – so the toilet paper roll loses its importance.

J: I just wrote this book, The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die, and I interviewed 250 people over the age of 60, all of whom other people said was the one person they knew who had found true happiness. I remember this 94-year-old man who has been married for sixty years, and he told me, “Whenever I was angry at my wife, I would ask myself if the thing that I’m angry about was more important than the love that we share.” And he said that about ninety-nine percent of the time, the answer was no.

L: Yeah, it’s a toilet paper roll. I don’t think we think long enough about where our frustrations are coming from. Is it a client? Is it something one of the kids did? And I think too often married couples, they smack the person closest and that tends to be their partner.

Q: The stated objective of your new book is to help the reader find lasting happiness. Do you think you can find real happiness without being in love?

J: I think for some people, they can’t be happy unless they have that one person who becomes the thread that goes through their life, and I think I’m that way. I wouldn’t be happy without Leslie, without a partner who’s a life mate. If you don’t have love in your life, you’ve missed the party.