When a couple works together they are sharing one more relationship: they are spouses, and co-workers... And in some cases, also parents. In order to have a satisfying marriage, it is important to protect each one of these relationships. There has to be certain rules or terms that need to be set to overcome any sort of clashes that might become a barrier in your relationship.
Thus, here are some tips for you to keep in hand to dodge obstacles in your way of a healthy relationship:
Marriage Comes First: The most important thing to keep in mind is, no matter what’s going on in your business or at your employment, your marriage is the priority. This means that any business decision that is made has to protect the marriage, otherwise, it is not a good decision for the relationship.
Communicate with Respect: Just because you know each other intimately, this does not mean that communication should be unprofessional. Treat your spouse at work the same way you would treat an employee.
Equal Input: Relationships work better when there’s an equal input from both sides. When the two of you try to play your part in the same manner but with different perspectives, issues arise such as communication gaps and feelings based on assumptions. Equal input is not about who brings more money, or who works more hours, it is about a mindset and perspective, such as: Do you find value in what your spouse does for the business?
Learn each other’s Personality Type: Learning each other’s personality type is not only useful for you and your partner but also for anyone else in your business. There are many personality tests out there, but the most popular and with a lot of research behind it, is the Myer-Briggs Personality Test. Understanding each other’s personalities helps when it comes to dividing up work and using your partner's (or team members') strengths for the betterment of the company. Knowing people’s personality type helps with assigning roles.
Assign roles: Make sure that roles are assigned both at home and at the business. If you were working at a company you would have to follow a job description. This notion also helps with home duties. Having an understanding of who does what at home is as helpful as at work. It makes things clear.
Separate work & home: Every fruit before ripening goes through a process of fertilization that requires time, hard work and patience. The same goes for your relationship, it needs commitment, understanding and patience. Try to leave the hurdles and burdens from work at work. Go back home with a positive vibe, so that you both can have your own time then, rather than getting on each other’s nerves. Indeed sharing problems relieves the burden but that interrupts your “self” time. Set your boundaries. If the two of you work together from home, try separating the areas within your home space, do not mix the work area with the home area, or agree when work mode will be turned off at home.
Scheduling: Schedule meetings regarding work topics during work hours, and set meeting about personal things as well. This means, put in your calendar a meeting to talk about how the relationship is doing, another one on how you are completing tasks regarding the house and/or kids, and a time to go on a date.
Have an agenda for meetings: In order to ensure that you stay on task with your meetings and not mix work with home topics, define the topic for the meeting. This can help separate personal emotions.
Dress Formal: When you are working with someone who you are romantically involved with, as humans we tend to make things casual and comfortable. Keep a line in between to not let things ruin or make your efforts go in vain. Usually, couples who work together stop dressing formally in an office outfit just because they think it doesn’t matter anymore. Dress like you care, no matter how long you both have been working together or what the situation is. Even if the two of you work from home, try not to wear PJs all day every day. This helps your partner feel like it is time to work and it will help with your own productivity.
Give Yourself Some ‘ME’ Time: No matter how understanding you both are or how amazing your bond is, there’s always room for self-reflection. By Self-reflection, I mean that you need to give yourself some alone time to gather up and pull yourself together to think and work in a better version of yourself. “Me” time is important for all people in relationships, but most important for couples that work together as you already spend so much time together.
Be Transparent: Things can be complicated when you both are in the same field and working together. Don’t be reluctant or hesitant to say what’s on your mind. Remember, communication is key to any type of relationship. Sometimes we usually zip up by assuming that your extra effort or more involvement would make the other person feel less important, on the contrary, you both have each other’s back so discuss even the slightest mishaps that you can sense.
Still do Couples’ things: Working together doesn’t ask you to see each other’s faces all the time, and even if you do see your partner all the time at work and home, part of separating work and life is understanding that working with your partner does not replace date night. Getting together outside of work by arranging and surprising one another with sudden sweet plans like setting up dates and getting flowers or whatever your better half likes is the best way to do things to keep each other happy and on track.
If you try all these strategies and working together still put the two of you in a negative space, then the most important thing is that you protect your marriage. That might mean that one of you has to step out and find another venue for your talents, or if you’re a home-based business, it might mean that one of you procures an inexpensive office space, just so that you get more distance from one another. What’s most important is that you find the solution that preserves your relationship and protects your career/business. But remember… your marriage comes before your business.
If you need help sorting out what are the areas you need to work in your spousal and business relationship, I am here to help.
To your Relationship Success,
Your therapy friend,
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