Ever since the first time I met my now spouse back in 2002, I knew he was extremely talented. We met at a Battle of the Bands – he was the drummer in Tweezer, A Weezer Cover Band. Come our first date in 2008, I knew he would be a great team mate in life. I actually told him within a few weeks of our first date that we were going to get married. [I was right, per the usual.]
Since 2008, we have worked together at 5 companies at the same time (2 of which were our own.) How did we do it? Simple. All it took was … just kidding. It wasn’t simple, but here are a few tips to keep in mind if you are considering working at the same company with your spouse or running a business with him/her. [Found this old business blog post from when we had just gotten married]
Create Goals and Set Expectations
There is a saying that goes something like, “Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” Get on the same page as far as business or work-related goals go. Set expectations – determine mandatories, figure out what is flexible. Revisit those goals and expectations frequently. Edit as needed.
Know that Work/Life Balance is a Real Thing
This is a hard one to follow, especially when you are running your own business together. It is easy to slip into constantly working, especially if you work from a home office. There were nights when we would work until the wee hours of the morning, albeit, while we worked sitting next to each other — it was an extremely unhealthy habit. We realized this and worked hard to set boundaries – no work talk at dinner time, computers shut down at a certain time (this one was flexible due to the nature of our business), coffee dates, taking Buster (our dog) for 2 walks a day. [Reflecting back, life was so much simpler pre-kid.]
Use (and Respect) Each Other’s Strengths to Balance Work Output
My husband is one of the most talented designers / developers I have ever worked with. Period. I appreciate and respect his input and eye for design, especially when it is web-related. He knows his stuff. Likewise, he knows that time management isn’t his thing (we both know that, really!). He also understands that time management and process development are in my arsenal. Our talents and skills easily feed off each other and it would be silly to NOT use that in our favor.
Have Separate Hobbies
Jeremy could typically be found putting together Altoids survival tins (or watching youtube videos on how to create them) and either exercising or looking up delicious low carb recipes to cook. I enjoy photography, yoga and blogging (surprise, surprise!) Post-baby (one year in), we still try to maintain separate hobbies and time to ourselves, though, we both can easily say, we don’t know what we were doing with all of our ‘free’ time before a kid. Actually, who am I kidding…we were actually getting sleep.
Save for a Rainy Day
Rainy days WILL come. Work is sometimes feast or famine – sometimes it’s there and you feel underwater; other times, it’s not and you find yourself constantly clicking Send/Refresh just to make sure you didn’t miss any emails from potential clients. Maybe your hot water heater breaks. Or your dog eats 10 pounds of cat food and needs surgery to remove his gall bladder that burst as a result of so much said cat food, and maybe the company you’re working for has rounds of layoffs after rounds of layoffs and isn’t giving out raises or bonuses. The thing is, there will always be something. Working for the same company makes you that more susceptible to ‘bad luck.’ Don’t be naive. Know that rainy days will come and be prepared.
Avoid Jealousy of Your Spouse
It’s my husband’s nature to be the ‘golden child’ of every company we ran or worked at together.
Employers and clients love him. He’s a charismatic son of a gun with a headful of knowledge on design, development and history. He’s outgoing. He makes more money than I do. Does it bother me? No. We have shared a bank account since before we got married. We’re both firm believers of the “what’s mine is ours” mentality. His wins are wins for me; my wins are wins for him. There is no sense in being jealous as that would only create friction between us that would bleed into work/life balance. Frankly, there is not any time for that.
In a Nutshell
We’ve been called nuts for working together. It’s not easy, for sure. But, neither is marriage and child-rearing. It all takes work, a similar approach to working at the same company together. It all takes effort. I personally have loved seeing my husband, my spouse progress over the last several years and most recently promoted to dad.