Ideas for Couples Who Work Together
It is estimated that there are two million couples in the United States who work together. Is this something that you are considering or that you are already doing? Think carefully and evaluate whether this works for or against your relationship. Estimates are that only 5-7% of the couples who are co-workers succeed in business. And if you are thinking about working together to bring you closer and fix the problems in the relationship, think again! That is the same train of thought that couples have who have a child to strengthen their shaky relationship. There are even more problems and stressors in your relationship than you had before!
If you are working together already, or only considering it, here are some things to keep in mind.
- The relationship is the most important thing. You can get other jobs, but your spouse/partner is one of a kind. If you function better as a couple by working different jobs or businesses, then that is the best course.
- Agreed upon boundaries are essential to the success of your endeavors. Some suggestions of appropriate boundaries are listed further down in this blog.
- Know that you will need clearly defined roles and that each partner feels valued as an equal despite the differences in roles.
Here are ten ideas to help you if you and your mate work together.
- Establish clear priorities. Determine what is most important to you as a couple. Your faith, your family, your business, your health? Suppose both of you agree on your priorities. In that case, when life and business begin to get out of balance, you will recognize it and be able to make adjustments. Don’t “make a living” and forget to “make a life!”
- Know when to shut off work. If you are working at home, this can be more challenging. Agree upon a time beyond which you will not do work. You could even put a “Closed” sign on the door of your home office or your desk. If your office or work outside the home, you will still need to agree upon a time to shut off work when you get home. You want to make space for life for yourself and your family.
- Start the day well. One couple reads books in the morning. They are spiritual, self-help, and business books. Early in the morning may be the best time to connect and do positive “couple talk” before the day becomes busy and hectic. Working out or walking together before starting the business day is a good practice as well.
- Make room for life. Do self-care – exercise, health care, time with friends. Play with the kids or attend their plays, games, concerts, etc. Working as a couple and for yourselves may well afford you the flexibility that other parents may not have. Leave margin in your schedule to participate in the moments that you will not be able to once they have passed.
- Deepen your understanding of each other. Do you know your spouse’s decision-making style? How do your personalities best work together? What is the best way to approach your spouse with an idea? What are their strengths in the business? In what areas do you both need to grow so that your business will succeed? It is essential to the success and your relationship that you know yourself and your partner well.
- Appreciate each other. Notice and affirm your mate’s skills and contributions to the business and the goals you have set together to achieve. Don’t let a day go by in which you fail to give positive encouragement to your mate.
- Set clear goals. Devote time to setting clear goals, even if you have to take time away to do it. As you set the goals, don’t neglect to define the expectations of each partner in achieving them.
- Help each other. When possible, pitch in and help each other. It’s probably best to ask your partner how you can help instead of assuming that they need your help in a specific area or particular task. Be a good teammate!
- Learn how to disagree. No two people agree on everything. If they did, one of them wouldn’t be necessary! Differing perspectives and ideas can be useful and healthy for your business. Even when you disagree with them, valuing your partner is crucial in times of disagreement. Seek first to understand their point of view before you try to persuade them of yours. Communicate with respect and never devalue them or stoop to name-calling.
- Get a coach. A good business or relationship coach can be of great benefit to you both and your business. They do not have to know all about your business to help you communicate, establish boundaries, set goals, etc. Often their unbiased perspective is just what you need to take your business (and your relationship) to the next level.
Working together can be rewarding and can build your relationship as you build your financial future and provide for your family. You could, however, be one of those couples whose shared business doesn’t make it. Because your relationship is the most important thing, it is good to have an exit strategy from working together. Ask yourselves, “How long will we give ourselves to try this out?”, “How will we know when this is not working?”, “Who will stay with the business and who will leave, or will we both find other jobs?”.