What if your work wife and your actual wife were the same person? Not many married couples share a bed and a business, but for those in that arrangement, navigating the day-to-day can be challenging.
When your life at work and your life at home blend into each other, it’s hard to assess the boundaries that may or may not be there. Should you yell at your husband for a work-related issue, or are you just mad about the laundry that he’s let stack up at home?
Should you give your wife the evil eye as she prepares dinner in your kitchen, or are you irritated about something she messed up during work hours? Since there aren’t a ton of couples that work AND play together, there isn’t exactly a handbook out there for running a business with your spouse.
Love and marriage have a fair share of complications. When you bring on board the title of “business partners” on top of husband and wife, matters become complex. There are certainly pros and cons of running a business with your spouse, of course. There’s the added time that you get to spend together.
With husband and wife working together, there’s also the awkward boundary between married bliss and business buddies. And that’s just in the general sense of joining couples and their careers.
From the woman’s perspective, you have even more than those to consider. If you’re thinking about joining hands with your husband on the frontlines of the corporate world, take note of the following tips for running a business with your spouse to keep both your marriage and your business afloat.
Consider this article as your handbook. We’ll dive into what to do, what not to do while running a business with your spouse, and what you should look out for as you try to make your business and marriage thrive.
15 Tips For Running A Business With Your Spouse
Are you starting a business with a partner or are already a business couple?
Running a business with your spouse can leave you both fighting for equilibrium in your own ways. Here are 15 things you must do to have a striving business and relationship:
1. Keep work at work
This one seems pretty obvious, but it’s a good place to start. In reality, it’s hard to turn off your work brain when you get home. Think about anyone else that you know that doesn’t share a place of business with their spouse. If they have a rough day at work, they’ll likely come home and vent their frustrations to the person they trust the most—their spouse. You don’t have that luxury.
You both have to do your very best to keep your work conversations within the confines of your workspace. If there’s something weighing on you, pull your wife aside before you walk out of the door and do your best to settle it before you go home. It’s much better to get it out in the open in a neutral place than to let it fester and blurt out your issue over dinner.
I’m sure this won’t happen all that often, but when you (or your spouse) feel like there’s something to be said or done in the context of your work and business, do it before you go home.
2. Keep home at home
The reverse is just as true! If you and your spouse have a tiff about some dirty dishes or issues in the bedroom, it’s going to get ugly, awkward, and uncomfortable for you and your coworkers.
You know the old adage, “Never go to bed angry?” You and your spouse need to practice this more than your friends that aren’t married to their business partner. If you shut your eyes at night knowing all is right in your marriage, you’ll be less likely to wake up and pour some resentment in your morning coffee.
While running a business with your spouse, the more sacred you can make your work relationship and your home relationship, the better your marriage and business will be because of it. Home at home. Work at work. Got it?
3. Make date night a weekly ritual
As much as you’d love to follow the basics listed above, there are going to be times when the line between your work and marriage gets blurred. While running a business with your spouse, you might bring some work home and, because you work with your spouse, think that it’s alright to work through dinner.
They’ll understand, right?
If there’s a large deadline looming, the two of you may forget to spend any quality time on the weekend and step back into the building Monday morning without giving any time to your marriage on Saturday or Sunday.
By implementing a weekly date night, you can count on that time to reconnect and worry solely about each other. No talk of spreadsheets, payroll, or casual Friday. Just the two of you sharing a glass of wine and light conversation.
4. Communicate better
Resentment is a relationship and marriage killer. With the two of you running a business with your spouse and sharing space both at home and at work, you can’t let things go unsaid for too long and expect them to smooth over.
You never get a break from them. So, there often won’t be space for dust to settle if there’s an issue between you. Again, think about friends of yours that are married but don’t work with each other. They always have the buffer of work to give them space if they need it.
They might both leave in the morning to go to work and be upset from a fight that just occurred, but it will dissipate as the day goes on. They’ll have some time to see their mistakes and mentally forgive their spouse. Then, by the time they get back home and see each other at the end of the day, they’re ready to reconnect and move on. You don’t get that luxury.
Since you don’t have the ability to step away from each other and have the time and space to cool off, you both need to be open and honest about how you’re feeling within all phases of your relationship.
If you don’t communicate at a high level, you’re just going to stack issues on top of more issues, and before you know, your connection will spiral out of control.
Every relationship has its problems. Every business has its off days. By communicating effectively, you can be sure that you’re always connected to your partner and how they’re feeling without this coming in the way of running a business with your spouse.
Check out this video below to understand the levels of communication in marriage:
5. Work hard, play hard
We become so obsessed with the business that we forget about taking care of each other.
When running a business with your spouse, it’s very easy to get caught up in your business and forget about growing the relationship, and sometimes simple things like, “How was your day?” can be forgotten and replaced with, “Did you ship out the order to the customer on time?”
As much as I do understand that it can be a challenge to be running your business while at the same time make time to hang out and have fun with your partner, and knowing about the little details in each other’s lives, especially in the early days when the business is in the infancy stage.
But you don’t want to have a situation where your business is growing, but your marriage is sinking. One of the best ways to ensure that this doesn’t happen and you have a loving relationship is to work hard, but at the same time play hard.
Just like you would schedule the time to complete a certain task, in the same way, you should schedule time for play and togetherness.
For example, you could schedule date nights each week or fortnightly, regular vacation time together where it’s about you and your spouse, time when you just take a walk in the park together, go and watch a movie or something fun.
6. Tap into each other’s strength
Both of you approach business and life differently. That’s great.
When you plan on running a successful business with your spouse, diversity in business or relationships is always good. What this means is that both of you can focus on your individual unique strength or gifts.
Maybe your wife’s strength is dealing with people. She knows how to market and to sell anything while you are better at managing people.
When you work with your spouse, it is not about who should be the boss and who shouldn’t or who should have such and such role. It should be about building something incredible together.
When you decide, and delegate responsibilities based on your individual abilities and interest, each one of you will be able to grow while at the same time complementing each other’s talents and bridging any potential gaps.
Without establishing individual roles, what might happen is that both of you keep stepping on each other toes.
I have read of couples in the early days of their business constantly arguing about every detail in the business as each one of them had their own opinion.
For example, what should their customer policy be? What products should we sell and so forth?
7. Respect each other’s role
Now that you know what role each other will play, both of you must respect each other enough to do their job.
If your spouse’s responsibility is finance and marketing, while yours is to manage the day-to-day operations of the business, don’t step into your spouse’s territory. Allow your spouse to do his or her job.
One of the tips for running a business with your spouse is to stay in your lane while you allow your partner to stay in their lane.
Trying to micromanage every area of the business is not a wise decision and will end in disaster as it tells your spouse you are not confident of his or her abilities. That is not to say each person should not be able to give suggestions, but each person should have full control over their given domain.
8. Establish a work-life balance
Balance is very important in everything you do, especially when you are running a successful business with your spouse.
Whether you are working with your spouse in a small business or handling a big one, without balancing your work and life, one area of your life will suffer. That is why you should establish boundaries early on in your business.
Regardless of the fact that you are very driven and passionate about your work, you need to spend time together where business topics are off-limits.
Together, both of you have to establish boundaries in your relationship— for example, no business topic around the table or after certain hours.
When this is done, you will be surprised at what you both are able to create together.
9. Listen to each other
Both of you will have your own individual opinion about almost everything, your own way of doing things. So, you both will not always agree with each other. That can cause a lot of contention if you don’t learn to just listen to each other without interrupting each other.
Both of you must make an effort to listen to each other without interruption and pay more attention.
10. Make sure that you’re both, you know, excited about it
If you and your spouse are to make this business thing work, it has to be around an idea that lights you both up. If it’s just your service or your product, and they’re not as involved as you are, there are three potential things that could happen:
– They’re going to resent that the business is about you. Everyone has an ego. But some people let theirs come out to play more often than others.
– There is a good chance that your spouse will feel insecure about a business idea revolving around you when they feel they should take the lead.
– They’re not going to go all in. There will be a part of your spouse that shows up because they love you, but if their heart isn’t at the core of the business, they won’t give 110% as you will. They’ll be an amazing, supportive spouse and help you rise to the top. Good for you!
There are partners out there that can play in the background and fully support their husband or wife, but it’s not a guarantee.
Related Reading: What Is New Relationship Energy & How To Make NRE Last?
11. Get in tune with each other’s working styles
Everyone approaches their work differently. There isn’t one approach that is more optimal than another, though. This is an exercise in awareness.
You might be an early bird and get up before the sun makes its way into the sky. By the time most people eat breakfast, you’ve already knocked out half of your checklist. Meanwhile, your spouse just cracked their eyes open and is looking for their first cup of joe to get them moving.
You’ll probably slow down and check out mentally around 2 or 3, but that’s when they hit their stride. Although they like to work late and you prefer the early morning hours, both of you are getting work done.
It’s important to understand how your spouse works in comparison to yourself because if you don’t, you’re just going to be frustrated by their “laziness.” In reality, they stay up until midnight cranking out work while you’re snoozing and prepping for your next early start.
Your working styles can work together, or they can be quite different. The point is to make sure that they work for your business. If someone is carrying all the weight, you don’t want to lay the weight of a rocky business partnership on the top of an otherwise pleasant marriage.
12. Create clear boundaries between work and play
If you have to be as strict as saying, “No business conversation after 5,” then do it! Some married couples working together can tie their personal lives and their career together seamlessly, but for most, it gets messy pretty quickly.
If you’re not careful, you’ll carry an annoying conversation about the laundry to work and let it derail your productivity for the day. The reverse could also happen. You could leave work feeling upset about how your spouse handled your newest client, then spend the rest of the evening giving him the evil eye.
By creating space between the two worlds that you share, you will be able to enjoy your time at home and execute better when you’re at the office as you both run a business together.
13. Create your own space
Since you and your partner get to spend every waking minute together, find a hobby, explore an interest, or start doing something that is just for you. Go to a yoga class a couple of times a week. Start writing that book that you keep talking about. Go on a vacation with your set of friends.
By deliberately creating space between yourself and your life with your spouse–remember, every waking minute–you’ll feel more refreshed, in love, and ready to take on the world with him when you meet back up. He should find something for himself as well.
Having your own passion project makes for more personal happiness and overall fulfillment.
14. Avoid over expectations
Handling a business is a tough job and now that you are in the game with your partner, you would know it better. However, people have different working styles. Do not expect your spouse to be free when you are free.
Considering you know each other’s schedule well, avoid meddling and letting that come in the way of why doesn’t your spouse give to the relationship as much as you expect. Everyone has their own way of showing emotions. Observe the things your partner is doing instead.
15. Decide when to quit
This section is not intended to be the Debbie Downer portion of this article. I am just suggesting that, before you decide to go all-in on a business idea, you and your spouse should set some clear guidelines on when to throw in the towel if it comes down to it.
If you’re happily married before you start dreaming about big business ideas, would you consider your marriage to be more important than the dream of having your own business? When you get into the thick of the process of being business partners, you’re going to need to remind yourself of why you started this thing in the first place–to create something amazing with your husband.
If it gets to the point that you hate your spouse because your business is tanking, you need to know that it’s time to pull the plug. By deciding on that cut-off point beforehand, you’ll be more conscious of it if things were to go south in the business realm.
Advantages Of Running A Business With Your Spouse
When you are running a business with your spouse or owning a business with your spouse, it serves you with many benefits. Here are a few pros of starting a business with your spouse.
- Married business partners have better trust in each other. Therefore, there are no games, politics, and risks involved with a husband and wife business partnership.
- With couples in business together, the money and profits that you earn stay within the family.
- You tend to understand your partner better.
- You always have a support system in the office.
- You both share a passion for work which increases compatibility.
- You both learn and evolve together.
- Maintaining a work-life balance becomes easy as you both know each other’s schedules.
How To Manage Business and Personal Life
There’s no denying the fact that managing business and personal life is a constant tussle. Especially, when you are running a successful business with your spouse, this is an equilibrium that you both attempt to achieve constantly.
However, on a personal level, you both can do your part to manage the business and personal life with some ease. Here are a few tips to achieve a work-life balance, especially when you are running a business with your spouse:
– Keep a track of your time
As an entrepreneur, your time is essential. Even if others don’t realize it, you need to. So, count every minute. Who you are spending it with? How are you spending it? Is it worth it? Don’t let unimportant things eat your time.
– Establish your priorities
It is important to establish your priorities beforehand to understand what you need to focus on. Keep your time aside for important things first before attending to anything else.
– Set goals for yourself
Set goals and stick to them. Create a to-do list to help organize your work better. One of the important ways to improve work-life balance is to understand your goals before you start your day. This will save you time.
– Take a time-off
Another way to manage the business and personal life is to take a time off. You need not work all through the day to establish your worth and as an entrepreneur, earn a respect. Your employees look up to you. So, set healthy examples.
– Don’t hesitate to ask for help
As an entrepreneur, you might be best at most of the tasks but that doesn’t mean you have to do it all alone. This will only kill your focus. So, delegate as much as you can to use your energy cautiously.
– Don’t aim for perfection
You don’t have to be perfect. You just need to be better than what you were yesterday. Perfection is a very subjective idea. So, just focus on evolving yourself and your business each day.
– Work smartly
The idea to work in a way that helps you achieve a goal. Avoid working in a way that only eats your energy and the goals still remain unachieved.
– Accept failure
With a couple working together, that is you and your spouse, there will be times when you will fail to maintain a work-life balance. But that’s fine. On some days, it’s okay to not be on your toes. Give yourself that freedom to not think, not act and only relax.
Love and business can absolutely go together. But it’s so important that you keep your perspective when you go all into running a business with your spouse.
If you make millions of dollars but lose the spark and passion for each other that you once had, will it be worth it? Consider the thoughts above, then make the best decision for you and your husband. Good luck!