How to Have a Happy Marriage When You’re Business Partners

Your business and your marriage can both thrive with these expert tips and tricks.
Splitting up tasks both in the office and at home can be good for your marriage. (Photo: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)

Every marriage has its challenges. So does every business partnership. But when your spouse is also your business partner, you face an egg scramble of potential stressors.

“Spouses who run companies together must understand and accept that there is no such thing as a ‘work/life balance’ — it’s all just ‘life’ when you own a company,” Amy Nichols, co-owner of Dogtopia in Tysons Corner, Virginia, told the Washington Post.

Be prepared for a lot of together time, and use these tips to help ensure both your company and your marriage thrive.

Hire a coach

If you’re starting a business with your spouse, it’s in your marriage’s best interest to sit down with a business coach or some other unbiased professional who can offer advice and help you tackle a business plan that serves both your marriage and company.

“There are a lot of challenges facing couples when they own a business,” said certified life coach Pamela Beaudet. “By the time most couples seek my help, they are already at some kind of crossroads that may have been avoided had they planned better.“

Create a business and a home plan

“Open communication is really important. I can’t stress enough the importance of doing a lot of work on the front-end,” said Beaudet.

She suggested making one plan for the business and another for your home life. “When I talk about a plan for your home life, I mean everything from chores to child rearing. So, if you have kids, will they go to daycare? Will you get a nanny? Will one of you take the lead on managing the home and kids, or will you share responsibility? If you want to share, then your plan has to be more detailed to include schedules, school drop-off and pickup times, lunches, projects.”

Agree on your priorities as life partners. “What are some of the things that you value as a couple — alone time, eating dinner together every night, stuff like that? How will you make time for those things?”

Clearly define your roles

Clearly defining employee roles is vital to work efficiency, and that goes for you and your spouse, too.

Beaudet suggested asking a series of questions to help you determine who does what. “Will you be equal partners or will one of you take the lead? Will you always come to consensus when decisions have to be made or will one of you have the final word? What will you do if a problem arises and the other one isn’t available — how much autonomy do each of you have?”

Identify types of challenges you will face most often at work and at home. “Work out how you’ll handle them in advance,” said Beaudet. You might sit down and discuss if/then scenarios and identify a chain of command.

When defining roles, remember that conflict has a better chance of being resolved swiftly when each spouse plays to his or her strengths, both at home and at work.

Beaudet cites an example of clients she’s worked with. One is warm and fuzzy (“she’s a hugger, but she isn’t a pushover”); the other is all business. When a conflict arises with an employee who needs corrective action, she will make the first contact. But if someone needs to be fired, he will step in and make the second, and sometimes last, contact.

“Additionally, she is much better at sales, so she makes most of the deals. He’s the operations guy. He makes sure everything gets done right, and on time. “

Agree to fight fair

Conflicts are bound to arise. But learning how to give and receive criticism will help soften the blow.

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