Personally, we enjoy working together but we know not everyone does. After working together more than a quarter of a century, we believe that being in business together can either make or break a marriage. Whereas many couples complain that they do not have enough time together, those that work together have the opposite dilemma! Sometimes too much togetherness can lead to agitation or boredom with your spouse or frequent conflict over small things.
Here are some tips on how to work with your spouse to make both your marriage and your business partnership successful.
- You both need to have a sense of humor.
- Work for common goals and set the ground rules of your business partnership in the early phases of your business partnership.
- Agree to disagree at times. Be willing to make tough decisions together.
- Eliminate power struggles or control issues.
- Discuss your visions of business, family, and marriage so that together you can create a shared vision for your future.
- Have realistic expectations.
- Allow one another space to be alone by having your own offices or separate corners, computers, etc.
- Do not get uptight if one of you wants to take a walk alone, go shopping alone, etc.
- Discover your individual strengths and weaknesses. Discuss how your strengths can complement one another and offset those things you are each not so great at accomplishing.
- Do not compete with one another. You each have your areas of expertise. Appreciate each other's strengths and talents.
- Trust that when one of you says you will do something, it will get done.
- Divide your business responsibilities between the two of you but be flexible in who does what when there is a tight deadline or one of you doesn't feel well.
- Start each day by sharing your expectations of the day with each other. This includes errand running, shipments that have to be sent out, phone calls that need to be returned, orders that need to be processed, inventory concerns, needing some time off or a break during the day, deadlines for articles to be written, e-mails that need answering, wanting to run to the hills to scream, looking at your calendar before scheduling appointments, etc.
- Although you work together, you may work differently or have different body clocks. Be sensitive to your working style differences.
- Consider networking your computers so you share a printer and have access to all the files.
- When you get irritated with one another, look at the benefits of working together. The benefits include being able to share your day together, spending your time with someone you love and respect, and the many benefits for your children of having parents who enjoy being together.
- Keep your work time and family time separate. Most couples who work together end up working longer hours than others who are self-employed, so it is important to set a schedule and try to stick to it. Keep good boundaries about your time when at home or during leisure time.
- When you are not at work, do not talk about work if possible. Make an effort to keep off this topic.
- Working together requires that you have good communication skills. Communication with one another is the key to being able to be with one another 24 hours a day. You also need to have respect for one another, and of course, trust.
Working together can be a challenge or a joy. For those that are struggling, there are ways to make this work better for you both. If you believe that working together is significantly impacting your marriage, one of you may wish to explore other opportunities!
You might like to read an article by LaTina Emerson in The Augusta Chronicle, "Working and Living Together", shares the stories of four married couples and offers tips for working together.
*Article updated by Marni Feuerman
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