Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Working with your spouse

I get this question a lot...how in the world do you work with your spouse and stay married?? Well, Mark and I have a very unique situation. We literally spend almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week together. We work on RuffleButts together, we take care of Aubrey together, we renovate/build houses together, and we obviously live together. Most days I think he is the most amazing person I have ever met, a few other days, I want to kill him! So, where do we find that balance to make our marriage work? I'm not really sure. Our situation is unique, but if you are, for some crazy reason considering this path, then this is my attempt to share a few suggestions:

1. Be prepared for work to enter all areas (and times) of your daily life.
Discussions about websites or marketing plans over dinner are inevitable and even the occasional strategy debate at the grocery store will occur. Find a fair way to say "I don't really want to talk about work right now" that is acceptable to both parties, that will at least give you a time-out when absolutely needed.

2. Don't follow the typical gender roles.
There is no room for typical roles in this co-working world. All things with life and home must be shared with equal responsibility...or at least have a discussion where roles are mutually agreed. In our relationship, Mark does a majority of the laundry. This may not be typical, but neither is our relationship. And I probably do not tell him enough, but this is MAJORLY appreciated and not taken for granted.

3. Put the marriage before everything else on the list.
I must admit, this is probably the most difficult one for us. Although Mark is always my #1, it is tough to make him feel that way when I have a hungry child, a phone ringing, and a production deadline in front of me. If a business role is impeding on the marriage, schedule a "meeting" and find a different way to do it. Although work is work, sometimes the emotional "you make me feel like this when you do this" kind of conversation needs to happen.

4. Make rules.
This is another one that is on our "to-do" list, but I think is super important. Have a meeting, lay down the rules. Who does what, who has authority on certain decisions, and what are the playing rules? Schedule an actual meeting to lay these out, put them on paper to be clear, and fight fairly when something goes awry.

5. Relationship rules do not apply at work.
Maintain a professional attitude while at work. Your spouse is there for you when you are having a bad day. They even let you take it out on them a bit when necessary, but don't let this cross into work-time. And especially don't allow employees to witness unprofessional or unpleasant talk or attitude toward one another. You have to set the expectations of respect that will be emulated whether you like it or not.

6. This one should go without saying, but find some separation and schedule family-time.
Schedule dates. Take an occasional vacation with absolutely no work-talk. Realistically, there will be some work-talk during any down time, but try to set expectations and find a balance.

I am extremely blessed to have found my husband. He does it all...he is handy with pretty much anything; he manages the construction of our new house; helps tremendously at home (honestly does more than I do when it comes to chores); he is amazingly talented with his role in RuffleButts, and he is a loving father. We don't have a typical life or even close to typical roles. I seriously don't think there is another person that would be crazy enough to do this all with me, or the other way around!
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