5 Ways to Make Working With Your Spouse More Successful

Working with your spouse can be tricky, there’s no doubt about it. In fact, it has all the potential to be a veritable minefield that can ultimately ruin your marriage. On the other hand, if you know how to avoid the mines, it can actually be a lot of fun. So what are some of the tips and tricks to making business with your spouse more successful?

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Going into business if you feel like this about your spouse? Is a bad idea. A very, very, very bad idea.

1. Start With A Good Marriage.

If you have a rocky marriage to start with, then working together won’t make things better. There’s no room for arguing in business. So the first thing you should do is take a good, hard look at your marriage. Is it strong enough to stand up to the challenges of working together? Can you and your spouse handle the tension if you disagree?

Remember, when you work with your spouse, you can’t go home and bitch about your co-worker. You live with that co-worker. You should only work with your spouse if the two of you truly enjoy spending time together and are great friends.

2. Talk. And Listen. A Lot.

Leo and I don’t always agree. But the trick to really making working with your spouse successful is talking things through and (more importantly) listening a lot. Over the years, we’ve worked hard at improving our communication as a couple and that serves us well when we’re working together.

Listening is a skill, like most things, and can be improved. If you find that listening is hard for you, try mirroring- repeating what the other person says when they’re done talking. It makes conversation pretty slow and labor-intensive, but you’ll learn how to listen really well and build better habits for the future. Lastly, do your best to avoid interrupting each other, especially if things get heated. That’s when it’s most likely that you will interrupt, so it’s the most important time to work harder at avoiding it.

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3. Figure Out What Works For You.

When Leo and I decided to start a business together, we bought matching desks and re-arranged the office. We set up our desks so they were facing each other, we had matching pencil cups and trash cans…and a couple of weeks later, I realized that Leo had stopped coming to our office. When I asked him why, he told me that I talk a lot when I’m working- not just when I’m working with clients, either. Apparently, when I’m writing, I say, “Oh!” and “Hm!” a lot. And he was constantly distracted and wondering what I was talking about, but was too nice to say anything to me. Awww.

Shortly after that conversation, we began construction on a studio for Leo in a different part of the house and moved his desk, pencil cup, and trash can into that space so that he could be more productive than he could be with my weird mumblings. These days, we visit each other’s offices periodically throughout the day, and email and text each other as well.

So working in the same office just doesn’t work for us. It might be perfect for you. The point is to figure out what works best for you and go with it.

4. Know When to Make the Separation Between Work and Home.

Some experts tell you to schedule your day so that, at quitting time, you completely separate work from home. Leo and I don’t work that way, mostly because my memory doesn’t work according to a schedule. We might be in the bathroom brushing our teeth at night, and I’ll remember to ask him, “Hey, did you call that guy?” So there’s a big blend between work and home for us.

That said, there are times when we’re going out to dinner or doing something special and we agree to a “No Work Talk” rule that we both have to abide by. That’s what works for us. But remember, figure out what works for you and your spouse- if you like setting an official quitting time and not allowing work talk outside of work hours, then that’s what you should do. It’s all about learning what works for you and what doesn’t.

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5. Don’t Forget Playtime.

One of the most important keys to making working with your spouse more successful is to make sure that you never, ever lose the romantic partnership you started with. If you spend too much time in “business mode” and forget to set time aside for your marriage, then you stand the risk of losing it all. Successful marriage requires some play time, so make sure yours has a healthy dose of it. Don’t get so immersed in your business that you forget that you fell in love with this person!

Working with your spouse comes with some inherent risks and rewards. To be truly successful, sometimes you have to work even harder at it than you would have to work with a coworker you’re not married to. But if you do find a way to do it so that it’s comfortable and fun for you and for your spouse, it can be one of the best, most rewarding ways to work that you’ll ever find.

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