Running a business is plenty stressful on work relationships. Mistakes, diverging ideas, and competition often strain office friendships and relations to the breaking point. But what happens if the co-worker with whom you’re conflicting is your spouse? Can your marriage handle that kind of strain?
We have some important questions that you should ask before you make your life partner your business partner, as well.
Do you compartmentalize?
There are many ways to compartmentalize in a business relationship. Assigning distinct areas of business responsibility is a great way to keep from butting heads over territorial disputes and workflow. This will allow each of you to take the tasks that play to your strengths, and give each other a degree of independence in how things are done.
Another way to compartmentalize in this kind of relationship is to keep business and personal matters separate. Implement a no-work-discussions rule at home, and vice versa for the office (except maybe breaks). When you’re disagreeing about a work matter, keep things professional and don’t bring up anything unrelated to the business.
Can you be honest but respectful?
Honesty is the best policy, but only if you can be diplomatic about it. Just because something is true doesn’t mean it should be said without tact. Be frank if you need to call your partner out on something, or if you need to offer advice on his performance, but be mindful of his emotions. There are many positive ways to express an opinion, and it’s always worth the effort to find the right one.
Can you keep a sense of humor?
There’s going to be plenty of tension over the course of your combined marriage/work relationship, and humor is a great way of releasing it. It helps keep the atmosphere light and communication free flowing. Not to mention the fact that happy employees are effective ones.
There’s a time and place for everything, of course. There are many business situations where humor would be totally inappropriate. It’s up to you to find the right balance.
Are you willing to give each other space?
When you start a business with your spouse, you’re going to be around each other 24/7. This can put a strain on the strongest of relationships. No matter how much a couple may love each other, each person still needs their own space to move around and grow.
There are many ways to give each other space while still functioning as an effective team. Have separate offices, even if you’re working from home. If you don’t have the space, then listen to music via earphones to create a privacy bubble.
Don’t forget to give each other space in your personal lives as well. Let your spouse go out with her friends, or find hobbies unique to each other. Give each other some “me” time and let each other decompress in their own way.
If the answer to any of the above questions is “yes”, then congratulations! You’ve got an opportunity to build something great together! I have seen this kind of successful partnership with one of our client, a winery brand in Texas, who run their winery with such great compatibility and joy. They make a great husband-and-wife team!
Are you married to your business partner? Comment below and tell us how you make it work!