One of the questions we’ve been asked through the years is, “How in the world do you work with your spouse?” Sometimes it’s said with a bit of curiosity, and other times people are straight-up appalled that we would choose this lifestyle.
It’s most on display when we’re working alongside each other at weddings. So, inevitably, it comes up in conversations, usually over dinner with guests or during cocktails at the wedding that – yes, this is what we do for work, yes we do this full-time, yes we are married, and yes, we really do work together, like, almost all of the time.
We’re no longer shocked by these questions, no matter the tone it comes with, but have thought it through from all different angles, because the short answer is – we love it. But the long answer is, it really does take work, and – quite honestly – can be really hard sometimes. So we’re going to get into all of that today!
We’ve always thought, WE LOVE IT, HOW DO PEOPLE NOT?!
Generally, through the years, we really truly have loved it. Here’s why!
It’s kind of all we’ve ever known. Even back when we were first married and you were finishing school and I was working full-time, we would commute to work/school everyday and eat lunch together a few days each week.
I remember a mom’s group I was part of online years ago, someone posed the question, what’s the average amount of time you SEE and are IN CONVERSATION with your spouse each day? Reading responses to that question was shocking to me – the majority of responses from these women ranged from 0 minutes to 20 or 30 each day. Either they saw each other a bit in the morning or night and caught up on the day then.
Some had husbands who would travel so there were days and weeks where it was zero.
Some were so tired that they would be in bed before their spouse came home .
A few rare ones were maybe an hour or two a day.
I remember reading those and feeling guilty, like, wow, I probably talk to Ray for a total of a 3-4 or MORE hours every single day. It made me realize what a gift we had in that way, and I started to become more grateful for something that suddenly seemed so rare.
It’s super fun to have someone to ‘bounce ideas off’ of throughout the days and weeks.
“A business doesn’t cause the challenges. Usually, it amplifies challenges that were going to be there whether you were in business or not.”
IT’S BLESSING AND A CURSE
- We can’t go a few days and let things stay unresolved. We just can’t, it’s right there in front of us.
- It forces you to deal with issues in life and resolve them in a way that you might just be able to ignore more long term.
- If you’re not resolving things in personal life, it will make your work like more inefficient.
- The more areas in life that we can hide that we’re not doing our relational work can just wear on us.
RECENT ISSUE: we were not wrestling with this feeling of imbalance
SOLUTION: we wrote a schedule both for daytimes and for night times (it’s so simple, but it solved the issue for us!)
We’ll link our evening routines/rhythms for you, if you’d like to grab those as examples.
It’s PROBABLY NOT FOR EVERYONE
We realize that obviously every couple and every family is different. In all of these episodes, we’ll be drawing from our experience, our personal situation, etc. So keep that in mind.
But it’s fair to recognize that: we all need differing amounts of space and autonomy. That doesn’t mean you have a worse relationship.
To some people, there may be a question there like, does it mean we’re avoiding each other because there’s too much there? We might need to dig into deeper issues or maybe have a third party help with those conversations.
WE RARELY WORK SIDE-BY-SIDE
A lot of people ask us how we can stand to be together all day and still live together. The answer is simple: We do not work together all day long.
The main reason we rarely work side-by-side is because we’ve chosen to homeschool our kids, so we trade-off days in the office vs days teaching/with kids.
For the past decade or longer, Mondays have always been “Daddy Days” – Ray is with kids, I’m in the office.
Only recently, like in the past year or so, we’ve made Fridays be our free reign day for the kids – where we set up expectations for cleaning + chores + schoolwork and Ray + I work together, right from home, all within earshot of children.
All that to say, we aren’t in each others’ physical space as much as you might imagine.
This one is a whole topic of it’s own, so we’ll get into the details of this more in a future episode, so shoot us an email if you have specific questions about it!
Systems and Schedules can change the world. (Or at least your household.)
You’ll hear this lots on this podcast, but we’ve created systems and schedules to help us!
A quote from David Harland, a Consultant on Family Business says,
“You don’t want to treat the family business like an institution would treat their business. Family businesses are different, because they are emotional systems.”
“The emotional system is what makes it so successful, and it’s also what can destroy it, if not managed properly.”-David Harland
There is a real ART to steering a family business and spouses should strive for balance, a happy medium. That will look different for each business and for each person within that business.
SOME TAKEAWAY TIPS
- Make sure you have the same goal/shared purpose.
- Do you have a regular meeting time to glance at your week and who will do what? We do this on Sunday nights.
- Speak gratitude, daily, for the small things. Establish a regular rhythm for giving praise!
- Do you know your strengths? Discover them about each other and let each person walk in them – give each other full reign.
- But also, trade spots in those areas of expertise every once in a while, you’ll gain respect and understanding of and for the other person.
- For example, I learned the process in which Ray edits photos years ago and it gave me much more respect for how much time it takes to do it well
- Embrace Work-Life Integration
- Set boundaries.
- Create NO WORK or NO TALK zones, sacred spaces, etc.
- Nurture your relationship MORE than your business
- Learn how to handle conflict and differences
- Take turns accommodating each other, Learn how to compromise – that’s a big one.
“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”Alan Watts
We’d love to hear from you! Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org