My Top Tips For Working Successfully With Your Spouse
For the last four years I have been working for my husband in a role that I have very much enjoyed. I have had a dual role, splitting my time between working as a trainer & qualified assessor and also working as my husband’s assistant. We have obviously been living together during this time and spending so much time together has certainly had it’s ups and downs, but WE MADE IT! We’re still speaking to each other and have successfully managed the delicate balance of living and working together, with the added challenge of living overseas in a very small space. We’re still speaking to each other and I think we would continue working together if I wasn’t looking for more progression within my career. I’ve learnt a lot over the last four years and I wanted to share my top tips for working with your spouse or partner.
Imagine waking up each day and getting ready for work, but instead of saying “see you later, have a nice day” to your other half, you sit down together to begin the day with a planning meeting. When you get home from work, you don’t need to ask “how’s your day been” or “what did you do at work today” because you already know. This can really take it’s toll on your relationship, so it’s important to be mindful of this and do what you can to prioritise your relationship.
The difficulty for me was that I found that, at least initially, people assumed that I got my job because I was married to the boss. That really couldn’t be further from the truth. If anything, I’ve found that I’ve worked harder than ever over the last few years for a number of reasons. Firstly, I wanted to prove that I got my job on merit and I also wanted to support my husband as much as possible while working in a busy and demanding industry. My husband has always known that if he asks me to do something at work, it will be done and it will be done well.
There are many positives to this though. I know that my husband always has my back and will do everything he can to support me in (and out of) the work place. Not many people are lucky enough to have colleagues like that. When it’s done right, working with your spouse can really strengthen your relationship and four years later, we are still working well together. Here are my top tips on how to work successfully with your spouse:
Be Respectful of Each, ALWAYS
Chris and I have very different strengths and weaknesses. Chris is a lot more decisive than me, but I am much more patient. Chris is better at getting things done and I’m more comfortable discussing difficult situations. The great thing about working closely with someone who knows everything about you means you can both really work to your strengths. I have a lot of experience in the travel industry, having worked in it for 5 years, but I never forget that Chris is my manager and has 15 years more experience than I do. I respect this and as a result, listen to him, learn from him and do the tasks he asks me to. I don’t necessarily always do these things as his wife, but I always do at work! Respecting each other is critical if you are going to be able to work together successfully, but it’s also important for your staff and work colleagues. Bringing domestic issues into the work place is unprofessional, unfair and guaranteed to make other colleagues feel uncomfortable.
Separate Your Professional and Personal Life
It wasn’t always possible for us to separate home and work, given that we live at work! However, we always made sure that every week we did at least one thing together that wasn’t work related. This didn’t have to be anything big, sometimes it was just a walk or a drink in the campsite bar, but it always helped us to get step out of the work mentality and think about other things. This is the one thing that we struggled with and we never really got the balance completely right with this. It’s because we didn’t always get this right that I know exactly how important it is and how much of an impact it can have on your relationship when you let work become all consuming. The most important thing is to be aware of this and to try to maintain a sense of separation between the two. It’s important to always make your marriage a priority because, in all honesty, there are other jobs out there. The fact that we’ve struggled a little to maintain a balance between our personal and professional life is a small part of why I’m looking to move out of the travel industry.
Do Your Own Thing
When you live and work together, it can be a little overwhelming at times and having your own interests can really help with this. Doing your own thing allows you to retain a sense of individuality, but I also think it’s crucial in helping you to maintain a positive relationship. Most days after we have finished work, we both go off and do our own thing for a little while. Chris will sit and read the news and I usually do a yoga class, go for a walk or read. This helps us to manage our stress and it also gives us something other than work to talk about. Chris and I are a couple that live and work together, but we are also both individuals with our own interests and it is so important to remember this.
I know for many people, working with their spouse would be a challenge too far, but we have really enjoyed working together for the past few years. Although I am looking forward to my next career challenge, I am also slightly apprehensive that I won’t have quite as good as relationship with any future colleagues!
Have you worked with your spouse or family member before? How did you find it? Let me know your thoughts.