Married to My Job

Alex Torrenegra discusses the endless rewards of working with your spouse

The balance between your work life and home life can be somewhat stressful when you own a business. Are you married to your job, or married to your one-and-only? You have to juggle a heavy workload in one hand, and your reason for working in the other, so whom do you devote most of your time to?

For me, this love affair isn’t an issue because my business partner just so happens to be the love of my life. To some people, that’s a different can of worms to open.

Hesitations: Who Needs ‘Em? 

When we started, there were no questions or concerns about working with each other. We asked business questions, but we never considered the effects the business may have on our relationship, or vice versa. In the initial stages, ignorance was bliss; we didn’t realize the challenges of working together until months later.

Never Let the Romance Fade

If absence makes the heart grow fonder, what does spending the entirety of your day – every day – together do? It could create a crack in the relationship, or it could work seamlessly; it all depends on how you choose to interact with each other while at the office.

There are a few things we consciously do to keep our relationship fresh while at the office, or while working abroad. We work in separate offices, we travel separately for business, we set time apart to spend time as a couple, not as co-workers, and we have a company atmosphere that is very relaxed. We never want to jeopardize our happiness for the sake of business, so these tactics help us maintain both our work and personal relationships.

Dynamic in Front of Co-Workers

Working with your spouse requires viewing your relationship through different sets of eyes. Your dynamic in front of your co-workers is as important as anything else, because you never want to make people feel awkward at the office.

First, we always make clear who is calling the shots that day. If we’re brainstorming in a team meeting, we treat each other exactly the same as we treat everyone else in the room. The biggest taboo is discussing personal matters in front of people – it makes co-workers feel uncomfortable, it solves nothing for the business, and the relationship doesn’t get any healthier.

Our final rule: if we break any of the previous rules, we apologize immediately; nobody’s perfect, but everyone can admit their mistakes and move on. Admitting when you’ve stumbled will make your (possibly uncomfortable) co-workers feel that you understand the tightrope you’re walking just as well as they do. 

Being a Better Man, Thanks to My Wife

Working with my wife has been an experience that neither of us can ever imitate. For me, our work relationship has made me a better man. I’m great with logical, processed algorithms, but my emotional intelligence isn’t up to par. It’s amazing how good women are at reading emotions, and how much I learn from my wife in this regard.

I value her more than ever before because I see the work that she puts in, and I can see, every day, the details of her work. The most rewarding part is we can give each other raw, honest feedback. Not everyone in the office feels comfortable telling me what I need to hear, but if anyone can do it, it’s my wife.

Working with a spouse may seem like trouble waiting to happen for some people, but it doesn’t have to be. The key to a sustainable relationship is the work you put into it, whether it’s business or personal. This relationship has made me a better husband and a better businessman. In the end, the work we put in will pay off at the office, and more importantly, in the comfort of our home.

photo of businessman and business women standing back to back in front of office building by Shutterstock.com

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About Alex Torrenegra

Alex Torrenegra is the CEO of VoiceBunny, an online platform for crowdsourcing voice overs from over 100,000 professionals in minutes.

Comments

  1. I love articles that touch personal issues entrepreneurs have to face . Definitely the best entrepreneurs are also great human beings I’m convinced that while methodologies and tools are important, real success comes from the ability to find balance, being humble and avoid arrogance even if your business takes off.

    Working with your spouse is a maturity test in the end, a lot of people think it’s not a good idea ( i’m not sure about it too) but knowing some couples that make an excellent team i realize it’s possible.

  2. Nice one, Alex. While everyone is always so focused on business dynamics, It’s great to glimpse a little of the personal and emotional challenges we all face. I don’t work with my wife, but I work from home, where I am in constant connection with her… and my two young children. Never a dull moment.

  3. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    I tried this for three years, and it did not go well. Part of the issue is that my creative artist first wife didn’t make a good secretary. She had suggested we start a medical meeting planning business (I had been doing this as an employee) so that she could leave a boring bank training job. It wsn’t her fault at all, but the training market in medicine got worse and worse through the early 90s. We made about a million, but ended up spending about a million, two hundred fifty thousand. We never drew more than about $40,000 a year, so we weren’t living high on the hog.

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