By Rachael Pace
Running a business with your spouse can be very exciting. After all, who else would you want to build a company with than the person you vowed to spend forever? Working hand in hand with your spouse can teach you a lot—how to communicate, play to each other’s strengths, and resolve conflict, which can make you better partners in business and in marriage.
That isn’t to say couples in business are smiles and rainbows all the time. Financial issues, disagreements, and not being able to draw the line between work and home life can mean disaster for entrepreneurial partnerships. To make sure your dream partnership doesn’t turn into a nightmare, here’s are some tips on how to keep your business from harming your marriage:
1. Make your partner your number one
Couples need to make each other their number one client if they are running a business together, and one way to do this is by spending quality time together, focusing on the physical connection. The release of the oxytocin hormone released during physical intimacy and other forms of touch can have a positive impact on a marriage, such as improving trust, increasing marital satisfaction, and boosting monogamy—just to name a few.
Maintaining an emotional connection to your spouse is essential if you’re going to run a business together. Studies show the longer a couple is together, the more likely they are to emphasize the importance of emotional intimacy.
Furthermore, in a study about what makes a lasting marriage, social issues lecturer and writer Francine Klagsbrun reported eight characteristics of long-married couples that account for their success. Of these characteristics, being able to change and adapt to new circumstances, trusting each other, and enjoying one another’s company all rated high on the list. Couples who spend quality time together building their emotional and physical connection are more likely to view one another as friends as well as lovers.
2. Practice the art of communication
If you don’t communicate openly and honestly with your spouse, neither of you will ever have any idea what’s going on in the relationship. Running a business with your spouse can bring up many emotional and financial issues, which makes it even more important to be open and honest when you communicate.
Couples must learn to resolve conflicts fairly. This involves a multistep process of identifying a problem, listening carefully to a partner’s needs and opinions, and discussing how to solve the issue. Arguments should never take place while at work, nor be an excuse for couples to berate one another.
Open communication is a two-way street. Both partners must be willing to talk about any molehills before they become mountains.
3. Be professional
When you work alongside your spouse, the line between business partner and “snuggle buddy” can become more than a little blurred, so for the sake of the company and your marriage, it’s important to keep things professional.
There are things we might say to our spouse that we would never say to a colleague. This can come in handy when you’re in business with your husband or wife. For example, you’ll be able to express yourself more openly with your partner than you would with an employee, which can make accomplishing tasks much more efficient.
However, such familiarity can work against couples. They may forgo manners, argue in public, talk over one another, take personal calls during meetings, or use casual or inappropriate language in a work setting. Letting personal disagreements interfere with work can occur, so while working together doesn’t mean you should be cold or distant with each other, you should be mindful of how you are behaving in a work setting. Your staff also will appreciate your professional behavior in the workplace.
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4. Talk about your finances regularly
Studies show that couples are more likely to have repeated arguments about financial issues than any other issue. This is no surprise, as starting a business can be a costly endeavor, and with both partners working at the same job, it can be easy for money to be tight.
It almost goes without saying that money worries can cause stress, anxiety, and depression. And these are three circumstances that can have a devastating effect on one’s mental health and marital happiness.
Couples should sit down together and properly discuss a business budget and a home budget. This conversation should include how to handle debts and bills, taking home a paycheck, and how to sustain the household during the business startup period.
Setting small financial goals is a great way for couples to get on the same page about money. Married partners should check in regularly regarding their financial situation to see how well they are doing.
5. Don’t talk about work at home
The flexible schedule of an entrepreneur means that oftentimes a couple may end up taking work home with them. It’s natural for partners to want to talk about their workday together, and even more so when they work for the same company. However, it is important that discussions of work do not dominate the conversation.
Couples should agree to not talk about work for more than a set number of minutes after they are “off the clock.” This will allow them more time to reconnect on a romantic level and spend quality time together as a couple—not as business partners.
To make a business partnership with a spouse work, each partner should make their relationship a priority and communicate regularly. Also, taking some well-deserved time for themselves, discussing finances, and leaving work at the door are all essential steps for maintaining a healthy marriage and business partnership.
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