>The Agony & The Ecstasy: Working with Your Spouse

>I have the unique privilege of working with my husband. We recently celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary and also just relocated to a quaint little coastal community…where we know no one! It is the first time in 25 years that we have lived alone. We always had a mother, daughter, or brother living with us until recently. David and I recently went through the horrific loss of both of our mother’s in March 2008, one week apart. Thankfully, instead of this pushing us apart we banded together as we grieved and became a stronger unit.

I must admit that I am extremely lucky to have such a wonderful man in my life. He doesn’t drink, recently quit smoking, doesn’t gamble, have affairs and isn’t physically abusive. Okay…so, NO! He isn’t the perfect man—and I am certainly not the perfect woman. I’m currently starting menopause and having hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, can’t remember anything and weight gain all at the same time. I wouldn’t even want to live with me!

So, now that you have a bit of personal information; you’re probably wondering about the title of this article. Well, David and I decided to restart our eco-friendly candle business as a way to pay tribute to our mothers. I have had numerous businesses off and on since 1994 and David always helped me when he could with craft show set-up, building displays, working in our retail gift shop; HOWEVER this time we are working together—full partners! I have found that this man that I love with all my heart is a real pain to work with and some days it has been real agony for me.

I am use to being the boss, owner, manager of others; however when he was working full time he was use to being the boss and manager of others. I think about a thousand things at one, am a Manager that trusts others to do as they are told and hates micro-managing, makes decisions quickly, am creative, slightly unorganized and computer literate. David is methodical, micro-manages, has to think and re-think each decision, is extremely organized and can use a computer for surfing the Net.

So, how do two people whose styles are so different, as well as spend every second of every day together, not kill each other while trying to run a business? Good question!

1. Set Official Ground Rules/Duty Roster. Write down what each partner’s duties are and stick with them. You don’t want to step on each other’s toes so it is very important to decipher who is responsible for what. It won’t take much time to learn who has strengths in some areas and weaknesses in others. You are already married so there is probably some kind of balance there—use this to your advantage! We work from home so some of these daily duties consist of home maintenance i.e. laundry, dishes, lawn mowing.
2. Don’t take it Personally! Realize that when you don’t agree on how to proceed on a project that it isn’t a personal attack on you. If voices are raised then listen, take notes and ask if you can discuss this further at your regular meeting (see #3).
3. Hold Regular Meetings. Set a time each week where you can sit together at the table, or take it outside to a local coffee shop and hold a meeting. I know this sounds silly; however it actually works. We meet each Tuesday at 10AM and I come with my notes to discuss and we go over everything just like a business meeting. We break up tasks and write down our goals for the week.
4. Don’t Bring your Work Home with You! I have personally had a very difficult time with this. I love what I do and running a business is my passion, so for pleasure I work on business stuff. We have set hours for work time and personal time. When it is personal time we don’t talk about work other than a “How was your day?” at the dinner table (see #5). What I mean is when you are watching a movie with your family, don’t be typing on your laptop or working on something else…give your husband and family the personal time they need and deserve. You will find that it enriches your life too.
5. Try to Physically Separate Yourselves. I work in my home office most of the day and David works out in the workshop. Sometimes we barely see each other all day.
6. Take Each Other Seriously. You each have strengths and weaknesses and varied employment histories. Take your partner’s ideas seriously and don’t forget about not taking things personally! David was in the US Navy for 22 years and during the last 10 years he managed people day in and day out. He has Quality Control, budgeting and varied other experience too. Just because I don’t personally agree with every suggestion he may have, I have to separate my feelings and realize that he has a lot of knowledge that I don’t know and I should “seriously” listen to his point of view.

Being in business and being married are actually very similar. Listening to your partner is probably the number one recommendation I can give and number two would be to keep fun and laughter in your life. We are still learning how to “deal” with each other; however each day is getting easier and easier to work together. I really am lucky to work with my husband even though sometimes it is pure agony but when we share successes it is pure ecstasy!


About marierhoades

Beach bum, wife, mother, lover of dogs & cats. Editor of Sally Lee by the Sea, http://nauticalcottageblog.com, a beach cottage design & lifestyle website.
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One Response to >The Agony & The Ecstasy: Working with Your Spouse

  1. >Hi Marie,What a great post! I love your honesty here. Great tips on working together. My DH and I worked at home together for 3 years and we had to practice the same rules.We should practice most of these rules in our marriage as well.Working together on any front whether in business together or not, it's Agony and Ecstasy!It's very much a part of a thing called LOVE!Thanks for sharing!Mary Chatman – President/CEOCreations of Love Inc.www.creationsofloveinc.com

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