Working With Your Spouse

Working With Your Spouse

Working With Your Spouse

I love to write. Hence, the blog. I love to inform, educate, inspire, entertain.

I have been encouraged, from many sources, to write a book. What? Really? Well, maybe. What topic interests me? Refer to the title of this post. And so, I might. As I was thinking about this topic, here were some of my thoughts:

If possible, #1 is, don’t work with your spouse. When you do, it’s so hard to, over time, have any part of the relationship not be about the business. To talk about anything that doesn’t end up being about the business. To make any personal decisions that don’t depend upon the business.

My husband and I are both high Type A personalities. We are both self-starters, self-motivated and can accomplish, well, any task we take on. We are both the best at what we do and know the best way to do it. Do you see a potential problem here?

When we started our business, we were both involved in every aspect. At first, this may be the natural process because you don’t know, going in, who is best at what or which areas you prefer. So, we both did everything. Where did this lead? Just imagine. We constantly argued over how to do everything and who was right. Note the word “constantly”. Big surprise.

And, we duplicated a lot of effort. We, as an example, are in the real estate investing business. I would comp a property to come up with the “true” value. He would comp it as well. I would inevitably decide it was worth less than he thought. And, I thought we could sell it for more than he did. More problems?

This recurring scenario took place right down the business line. I wanted to pay this amount to that vendor, he wanted to pay more to someone else. And on and on. Before we hurt each other or I ran off with the pool boy, what did we finally do?

Divide and conquer. We decided, first of all, that we didn’t have the time to do things twice. Only one of us should be comping the properties. Only one of us should handle paying the bills. Only one of us should deal with tenants. So, since we were both highly capable of handling all aspects of the business, we started the division according to who wanted to do what.

He felt strongly about being in control of buying the properties so I took over selling or handling tenants. He wanted to keep up with the finances (fine by me) so I handled structuring and organizing the office – property files, tenant files, form and document organization (which he hates).

As time progressed and we came to things neither of us wanted to do (or the business outgrew our skills), we hired the work out. For example, after less than 2 years, we hired a bookkeeper. The bills and bookwork were becoming a huge project and we realized that letting someone who was already prepared with that skill take it over would immediately free up our time to focus on things that were income producing. I’ve heard this described as learning to “work on your business, not in it.”

And so begins the book building process. What do you think? Do you work with a spouse? I’d love to hear your personal stories, what works and what doesn’t. Please send me your inputs here or privately to my personal email site.

And, thanks for sharing.

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5 Comments

  1. Doesn’t it all sound easy when it’s written out on paper? Hope it all continues to go well for you and – thanks, Arminda, for your comment!

  2. While not exactly the same situation – I am business partners with my brother. We created boundaries when we started working together – much like you did. We listed out all the responsibilities of the business, and then identified who was best and/or wanted to take on those tasks. We also designated time each week to discuss how things are going. This time is set aside as neutral – allowing us to share positive, as well as negative, feedback with one another and to remember it’s about the business, not our personal relationship.

  3. Thank you for your comment!

    You couldn’t work with your wife because you are so different. Our problems came from (or so we thought) the fact that we’re so much alike!

    Not sure there is a good solution but I’m sure looking for it!

  4. I imagine in business as in a marriage it is important for both parties to understand what is important to the other person. Telling someone it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t matter to you is telling them their thoughts or feelings don’t count. Being able to discuss business matters without becoming critical and being open to the other persons suggestions is a must.

    Making a list of each others strong points and interests is a good idea. That way it makes it a lot easier to decide who is best to accomplish a certain task as you suggest. Also a list of priorities as to what is most important down to what is least important.

    I for one cannot imagine being able to work together with my wife as we are so different. People who can do this and manage a marriage have to be special.

  5. Anyone know what she is talking about? No arguments, just discussions with extra energy and ideas to share…..Yeah, right!

    Here’s a point that needs to be made, no ONE was wrong or better than the other just different perspectives!

    Working close together requires acknowledgement of each person’s highest and best talents to be be used for the common good of the business..Then, you must create a job description for each and DON’T cross the line once defined! Ego wins too many times out of survival but the marriage won’t if you don’t know when to allow the other to have their way.

    What I have learned is to shut up and walk away from certain discussions but the hard part is learning which are important to walk away from.. Some are more important to the other than to you. Write to us when you learn this secret to a balanced and healthy relationship both in business and in life.

    It takes love, patience and an extreme desire to succeed in both to make it!

    Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER give up!

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