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How to Work with Your Spouse

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As Valentine’s Day approaches, we can’t help but have love on our minds. The love of a caring partner and coming home to someone you care about, after a long day. But what if you didn’t have to wait until the end of the day to see your partner? What if you worked with them during regular business hours? Many couples balance maintaining a relationship while also working alongside their mate. In fact, according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, 43 percent of small businesses are family businesses. If you are one of these couples, do you manage this predicament well? Are you able to navigate the situation with ease? If not, below are a few ways to work with your spouse most efficiently.

Whether at work or during non-business hours, communication is key. When your significant other is speaking, it’s important to listen to what they have to say, and not be quick to cut them off. Allow them the opportunity to express themselves and their opinions. Even if you do not agree with their sentiment, be sure they feel comfortable and confident enough to share their opinion, nonetheless. And if they need help, be sure to pitch-in. Asking for help is not always easy, so if your spouse is communicating to you that they are in need, assist in the resolution.

As with all co-workers, be sure you are showing your significant other the respect that they deserve in the workplace. Remember, although you feel comfortable around this person, and share a special bond with them outside of the workplace, it does not mean that they should be treated any differently than your other teammates – this includes the absence of special treatment. Instead, extend to them the same level of respect and professionalism as you do others. In relationships and business, open and honest communication can ensure that minor issues don’t develop into major problems.

Furthermore, be sure to leave office politics and discussions in the office, and do not let them overflow into your personal time. Often, couples who work together have a difficult time separating work and their personal lives. However, this is essential to maintaining a healthy balance that can help sustain your working relationship.

We interviewed a married couple in the NASBA office, that has mastered the art of working with their spouse. Below are their responses to our questions:

1. How long have you worked with your spouse? 

Wife: A total of about eight years.

Husband: I haven’t worked at all with my spouse. Since we have been together, nothing has felt like work.

2. How do you navigate working and living together?

W: We both work within the same division, Client Services, but we don’t see each other all day long.  Sometimes, I don’t see him until it’s time to go home and he is oh-so-patiently waiting on me to finish things up, HA! We often go to lunch together or to the gym, and it’s nice sometimes to have time together not at work, and without 3 little kids. My husband also says if we leave after 4:00 pm, we order pizza.  It’s 4:08 pm now, so it looks like it’s pizza tonight!

H: Most of the conversations you would have with your spouse when you get home have already happened, either during the workday or on the drive home. Since you are together, any family matters that arise can be handled without having to make phone calls, since you can just talk about it right then.

3. What is your advice for other couples who work together? 

W: Bounce ideas off each other, and run scenarios past each other, when you have a work issue.  It’s nice to have that time in the car to talk about work so that when you get home, you can just have family time.

H: Here is my list:

1. Make sure to go out to lunch together at least once a week.

2. If your spouse says they do not want gifts sent to them at work for special occasions, don’t listen. Send them anyways.

3. Make sure to share your work calendar.

4. Always check with your spouse before going out to get food (in case they want some).

5. If you are asked to do a survey, which requires answer that involve your spouse, make sure they review all your answers before submission.

If you continue to work on your communication, treat each other with courtesy and respect and leave the office at the office, you are on your way to a great working relationship. If you currently work with your spouse, and have advice of your own, please share it with the CPT.

-Dina Barabash, NASBA Content Development & Web Specialist