We're happy to present this story from one of our favorite sites, The Good Men Project. Today, 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.
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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.