There is bound to be some tension when you work with your spouse. Here is how this couple handles it.
“Hey babe! Where’d you save that file?” I scream toward the wall, hoping it was loud enough for my husband to hear in the office next to mine. “It’s in my pending folder!” I hear him scream back at me. My average workday is a little bit different than most 9-5‘ers. I can usually be found helping my husband with administrative work, running our household errands, debating with him about marketing opportunities and events, and landing the occasional kisses or hugs in the office hallway.
Working with your spouse is a unique work environment takes time, patience, and adjustments to get right. When we tell people we work together, there’s usually a wide-eyed response of “Whoa, how’s that going?” And the answer is – It’s actually going quite well … now.
But where we are now as co-workers and life partners has come a long way since how we started off when I began working at his small insurance agency four years ago.
So, how did we get to this healthy, productive, and pleasant place working together?
Here are three things that had to change so we could create a productive work environment and healthy relationship balance.
1. – We had to define our roles.
When I first joined the business, chaos ensued for a while. Roles and tasks weren’t clearly defined between the two of us, and balls were being dropped all over the place. We had many discussions of who would be responsible for what, but we still just weren’t committing to our assignments. It seemed that the more we talked about who was in charge of certain duties, the more complicated the situation became and we found no relief.
We finally just halted all those conversations and allowed ourselves to fall into the roles and tasks that felt comfortable to us. When I learned how to perform a task, I mentally added that to my duties list. I took on what I could to help him and he took on what he could to help me.
Nowadays, our office hums with efficiency because we took on the roles that seemed to fit our skills and abilities. Knowing what we expect from each other is important for an effective work environment, and for the health of the relationship.
2. – We had to give up control.
Working on projects together was hard in the beginning because neither of us were willing to relinquish control over the smallest details. Instead of co-projects, they always became either ‘his project’ or ‘her project’ due to this inability. Once we started to trust each other and see how much easier it was to truly work together, delegating tasks to each other became the norm.
Working as a team on projects for our business has definitely improved our home projects as well. Any home improvement was always left up to my husband since I was labeled as a useless addition to the team. And I accepted that role whole-heartedly as I relaxed on the couch or handed him a beer. However, now that he’s observed how much I can contribute to work projects, I’m also being included more in home projects. We realize now that if we designate more projects as team projects instead of individual projects, the results are better and we’re finished faster.
3. – We had to change our reactions.
My husband can get intense, especially when it comes to a work-related issue. He’s quick to raise his voice, get frustrated, or throw out snarky comments. I’m easily influenced by the energy around me, so when he would get into this mood, I would follow suit. This led to a miserable, unproductive afternoon of work that usually left me in tears and questioning the validity of our business and our relationship.
We had to learn together that changing our tone, attitude, and the way we reacted to problems helped keep our work environment positive. And a positive and calm environment actually led to the problem being solved more timely and effectively. It also kept us in better spirits through the day and feeling more confident in our business and our marriage.
The first day I walked into the insurance agency to work a full day with my husband, I knew it would be hard work emotionally. There were many frustrating days where we wanted to give up. I think the majority of couples would never have lasted as long as we did working side by side. We had to have patience, flexibility, and a sense of self to make it work.
I’m proud of our relationship and our business because we’ve built it together as a unit. While every day is not seamless or free from a slamming door or raised voice, we still know we’ve created a solid and efficient workplace for us to thrive. I can truly say my husband is not only an amazing life partner but also, a stellar co-worker. I’m happy to yell instructions to him through the office wall every day and build our business as a team.