Working alongside your spouse every day may seem like a dream… or a nightmare. Whatever your perspective, there are ways to make sure a marital squabble over which accounting software to use for your company doesn’t turn into a full-blown fight. Follow these tips for working with your spouse to create a positive environment that not only is pleasant for both of you to work in, but may also actually strengthen your relationship.
If you wouldn’t treat a co-worker a certain way, don’t treat your spouse that way. It can be easy to be harsher to your spouse than you would another co-worker because you are more comfortable expressing your feelings with your spouse. But this is a sure-fire way to create a hostile working environment. No one wants to work with someone who isn’t nice to them, even if it’s their spouse. Go out of your way to maintain the same (or higher) level of courtesy you would give a non-spouse co-worker to your spouse.
You may find that you have to compromise more in a working environment with your spouse than you would with a regular co-worker. This is because you need to protect your relationship with your spouse more than you do someone you don’t love. If a working relationship with a non-spouse goes south, you only have to deal with them during your working hours. If your relationship with your spouse becomes strained in the workplace, it will be strained at home, too.
This is good advice for working with anyone, but especially your spouse. You are going to disagree, but sometimes, all the other person wants is for their ideas and opinions to be heard. Let your spouse finish expressing their thoughts before you jump in. Cutting them off or automatically criticizing their ideas will only lead to a shouting match.
Even better: summarize what your spouse said before responding with your own thoughts. This will let them know they have been heard and will give them an opportunity to correct any misunderstandings before they become major issues. Try to find something you like about their ideas before you disagree with them so they know you aren’t rejecting their contributions outright.
Schedule Business-Free Time
Particularly when you’re just starting a company, it can become all-consuming and when both you and your spouse are involved, it can be easy to think about nothing else. Schedule specific times that you and your spouse will not discuss the company or anything to do with the business. This will allow you to connect on the level of just being a couple. Set rules such as “no business discussions during dinner” or that you’ll have at least one non-business-related date-night per week.
These times away from the business will keep your work relationship in perspective. You’ll remember that you married each other for reasons that have nothing to do with your company. If possible, also consider keeping your workspace separate from your home to further differentiate the two relationships that you’re both juggling.
Working with your spouse can be extremely rewarding, but only if you set some boundaries first. Don’t sacrifice your marriage for your work and if you find that your business is causing irreparable harm to your relationship with your spouse, take a timeout and re-evaluate your decision to work together.