What's it like being married to Mark Zuckerberg? Priscilla Chan opens up about life in their household

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Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan have been together since their university days. (PHOTO: Getty Images/Gallo Images)
Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan have been together since their university days. (PHOTO: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

He may be the billionaire owner of a social media giant but Mark Zuckerberg is also a very committed family man who is very much involved in the daily lives of their daughters. And his wife wouldn't have it any other way  –  after all Priscilla Chan, has a busy life of her own. 

In a wide-ranging interview with British newspaper The Times, the Facebook founder's wife spoke about how she and her husband divvy up chores and how he's teaching their daughters, Maxima (5) and August (4), to code and recites prayers to them in Mandarin at bedtime.

Priscilla (36), a former paediatrician who runs the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a charitable foundation, says she and Mark (37) split parental duties, with her taking the morning shift, and he the evening.

She gets the girls ready for nursery school while he puts them to bed at night.

"Sometimes they will read books together. Sometimes they'll code together. Mark has been doing that with August since she turned three," she says.

Mark, who is busy rebranding his Facebook parent company, giving it the new name Meta Platforms Inc, has always believed in the power of technology to change the world and is determined to pass on his coding know-how to his kids.

But in a recent interview he admitted that teaching his children to code has been a real test of his patience.

Priscilla says she and her husband are equal partners – in business and marriage. (PHOTO: Getty Images/Gallo Images)
Priscilla says she and her husband are equal partners – in business and marriage. (PHOTO: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

“August types at literally 1-2 words per minute. And when she gets a few letters into a word and then makes a mistake and accidentally presses delete three times instead of once and then has to retype the whole word, I feel like I'm just going to lose it," he admits.

In her Times interview, Priscilla whose parents are Chinese immigrants from Vietnam, reveals that they are raising their children as Jewish but in a nod to her background, Mark recites Jewish prayers in Mandarin to the girls at bedtime.

Priscilla, who speaks fluent English, Mandarin and Cantonese, says it's important to them both that the girls are raised with a strong sense of both their cultures.

So every Friday when  friends and family come round for a Shabbat dinner she will serve Chinese along with kosher food. 

In interviews, both Mark and Priscilla have explained that despite his billionaire status, they are doing everything to ensure their kids aren't spoiled.

"First of all, we don’t give them everything. So I think that that’s an important piece," he said in an interview a while back. "They have chores."

Priscilla has also revealed that they sometimes take their kids to work.

"Mark and I take both of them to work, to the office, to see sort of, like, what we do, how we contribute," she said.Her latest interview offered a rare insight into the famously private couple who met while queueing for the bathroom at a party at Harvard University, where they were both studying.

She went on to graduate as a doctor and qualify as a paediatrician while he dropped out and founded Facebook.

They married in 2012, which was the same year that Facebook listed on the stock exchange.

It's unusual for the couple to share such intimate details of their family life. But Mark may be wanting to deflect attention from all the negative publicity coming Facebook's way.

In recent years the company has come in for criticism for the the way it uses its subscribers' data to manipulate them with targeted advertising, for example.

And whistleblower Francis Haugen has revealed a series of damaging revelations about the company and Mark's role in what happens behind the scenes.

So the recent news about Mark's ambitious plans for his newly rebranded company has been received with scepticism.

“Meta’s focus will be to bring the metaverse to life and help people connect, find communities and grow businesses,” he said.

He explained that Meta Platforms Inc will broaden its reach beyond social media to virtual reality where the metaverse will feel like a hybrid of today’s online social experiences, sometimes expanded into three dimensions or projected into the physical world.

“It will let you share immersive experiences with other people even when you can’t be together — and do things together you couldn’t do in the physical world,” he said.

READ MORE | Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen: who she is and why she felt she had to spill the beans 

On the personal front he and his wife have also found themselves facing scrutiny as two of their former household staff alleged that they endured sexual harassment and discrimination from their colleagues while working for the couple.

Mia King, a black woman who is part of the LGBQTI community, alleged her colleagues referred to her as "ghetto", made inappropriate comments about her breasts and was subjected to "a continuing pattern of racial and sexual harassment and discrimination" from fellow employees.

Her co-complainant, referred to in court documents as John Doe, worked as a household operations manager for the family from January 2017 to March 2019.

Doe, who is gay and suffers from epilepsy, alleges that while working for the couple, he was unlawfully insulted, ridiculed, demeaned, groped, propositioned and sexually assaulted by his colleagues.

Additionally, the pair allege they were not compensated for working overtime.

However a statement put out on the couple's behalf says these allegations cannot be substantiated.

“The family office takes complaints of workplace misconduct very seriously and promptly investigates all such matters, says their spokesperson Ben LaBolt.

"Any complaint made to our HR personnel is taken seriously and is investigated and addressed. We are proud of the team of professionals who work in the family office and are confident that these claims, which seek to unfairly disparage our colleagues, will fail." 

READ MORE | Mark Zuckerberg: 5 secrets for success


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