Choosing to work with your spouse is a big decision, I mean, obviously. My husband John and I have been working together for the past five years. I often get the question (like really frequently to be honest)… “What’s it like working with your spouse?” And my answer usually sounds like this… “It’s awesome sometimes, and sometimes it’s tough.” So if you’re considering working with your spouse, or if you already are, I trust you’ll find these three tips helpful.
1. Mutual respect is essential.
John became a licensed realtor a few years before me, so there was already a layer of respect in place because of his industry knowledge. His guidance was crucial during my early years in the business and I’m forever grateful for his mentorship and patience. But what if you’re both starting on a venture together at the same time? What then? Sit down and have a serious conversation with your partner about what your strengths and weaknesses are. Do you mutually agree upon your strengths? What about your weaknesses? To truly respect one another, you must embrace one another’s weaknesses and look at them as opportunities for growth, not as reasons to cast stones at one another when things go awry. And trust me, things will go awry from time to time!
Are your duties at home equitable? Does one partner carry the weight with day-to-day kid duties? Does one partner ensure bills are paid and the dishes are clean? It’s important to feel respected at home the same way you like to feel at work.
2. Learn to speak your partner’s language.
Before we began working together, we read the book The 5 Love Languages. This short book is an absolute must-read for all couples! Couples often argue at home and in the workplace because they’re not speaking the same love language. For instance, my top love language is “acts of service” and John’s is “quality time.” Whenever we find ourselves upset with one another, it’s usually because someone’s love language is not being spoken. John and I make time on our calendars to speak each other’s language. That’s right, we schedule time on our calendars to make one another feel loved and important.
For instance, we have lunch together every Wednesday and it is the highest priority appointment on our calendars. We aren’t allowed to cancel the appointment for any reason… none! This ensures John always gets quality time with me with zero distractions. On the flip side, John has multiple short appointments on his calendar each week to remind him to do certain tasks that mean a lot to me (take out the garbage, empty the dishwasher, pick up flowers, grab my favorite cup of coffee). John doesn’t put these “acts of service” on his calendar because he doesn’t think to do these special things for me on his own… he puts them on his calendar because he wants me to know I am a priority to him that takes precedence over other things in his day.
3. Get a coach!
No, I don’t mean to hire a personal trainer, I mean a marriage or business coach. John and I have both! Remember when I mentioned things are bound to go awry at some point in your business journey together? What if one partner is underperforming in their role or procrastinating on certain business activities? Constructive criticism or constant input from your partner gets to your head over time and can be frustrating.
Our business coach gives us a neutral opinion on the steps we are taking to grow our business, allowing each of us to feel heard and respected in our ideas. She also pushes us both individually so we feel accountable to a third party outside of our marriage. Our marriage coach helps us work through the normal ups and down’s every couple experiences so we can thrive as parents and partners. I’m a natural introvert and expressing myself doesn’t come naturally. I have learned so much about myself and how to translate my feelings from the sessions we have together. We meet with our business coach weekly and our marriage coach 1-2 times per month and they’re both essential to our success at work and at home.
So back to the original question, “What’s it like working with your spouse every day?” My answer remains unchanged… It’s awesome sometimes, and sometimes it’s tough. In the end, I’m proud to say we have learned and grown so much as a couple and as parents from this experience and we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon!
Jordan Sibley is a full-time Realtor, mom, and wife residing in Lakeview with her husband, John, and daughter, Emma (5). Together, they own and operate The Sibley Group at Keller Williams Realty. When she’s not selling real estate, she’s teaching Pilates, volunteering as room mom at Morris Jeff Community School, or traveling with her family.