Do you secretly shudder at the idea of working with your spouse? I've got news to share: Now is the perfect time to stop working for someone else and start working for one another.
For over 16 years, I've worked with my husband. Through our experiences of bonding professionally, we've learned the following five secrets to a happy marriage.
1. Don't put each other down.
News flash: Picking each other apart is not going to help your relationship, or the bottom line of your business. Instead of getting in the disrespectful habit of sly remarks, be honest with yourselves and point out what you're good at. Remember, opposites attract! I love to market and sell, and my husband is great at running more of the daily business operations. When your business thrives as you focus on each other's strengths, you learn to focus on the positives at home, too. Added bonus: When you boost each other's ego, you become more attractive to your mate.
2. Play fair.
When you work together, you want to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Who wants their spouse to be an annoying nag? Instead, divide and conquer tasks together. Approach each other with, "What can I do for you to help get this done?" You'll both learn the power of giving versus receiving. This is one of my favorite parts of working together that has translated to our home life. Instead of fighting to help out around the house, I cook, then he cleans up. I tub the baby, and he helps the other two with their homework. Too many marriages have failed because both members start pecking at each other with, "What are you doing for ME?" instead of, "What can I do for YOU?"
3. Get each others' backs.
When you run a business with your spouse, you trust that you can rely on one another. When I really need someone to help fill my shoes because I've got a pounding migraine, it's nice to know I can count on my spouse. If he wants to go spend long weekend hours training to become a volunteer firefighter, then I'll take the kids. We don't owe each other anything because we constantly cover for one another. This builds a sense of reliability and support for one another that brings relief to any marriage.
4. Stick together through thick and thin.
When you set and attain professional goals together, it's natural that you align what you are also looking for personally in life. Everyone measures success differently, so it's good to find out what's important to one another. Plus, working for yourselves will not be all good times. Communicating ideas, figuring out what to do when you don't agree and working through obstacles are keys to success. You learn to pull together through the rough times and enjoy celebrating achieved milestones together. Some say that my husband and I are really laid-back people, but I think we have been through enough ups, downs and curveballs in life before we even reached 30. We've stopped sweating the small stuff -- even through tough times, life always moves on. You might as well make it as easy as possible and support one another through those times.
5. Turn work time into play time.
When you run a business together, it's important to love what you do so that it's not a chore. My husband and I had a blast growing an edtech company nationally, and now we're expanding to fitness studios in Denver. Even though we put countless hours of work in each week, at least we eat, sleep, and live it together. We do our best to disconnect and take the time to enjoy our kids, each other, and the backyard that Colorado has to offer. Work hard, play hard, and love what you do -- together.
Now seriously, stop ducking when I ask if you'd ever work with your husband or wife. It could be the best marriage decision you ever make!
Photo: Laura St. John