Good and bad sides of working with your spouse
Let's go straight to the point: You must forget the emotional connection. No matter are you both employees in the same company or founders of a huge multinational company, you must make a clear separation between your personal and professional life. Must, not should.
When you are criticize someone, or someone is criticizing you, it is much easier to accept criticism from a person you have no personal connection with. You can always think what you want, accept criticism or not, but you won't be hurt as much as if it was for your spouse. Criticism from someone you have feelings for have much greater impact than any bad words from a person who's just a colleague. That's from your point of you.
From the other side, the person that criticize can easily slip into personal accusation that have nothing to do with the job. At that point the conversations is starting to be a marriage fight and it tends to have deep negative impact on both the marriage and the business. So, a double damage.
To prevent that, the first and foremost you have to clearly separate your private and professional life. The two of you must sit down and make a deal that at the office you are two professionals with no personal connections whatsoever, and the moment you step out from the office you can be husband and wife again. We can't emphasize enough how important this step is.
Now, this is hard to do. In the company it is easier to act like strangers but the problem is at home. Why? The answer is simple: people talk about their work when they come home and you two have the same topic to talk about because you were in the same company. So, if you want to talk about work, you are talking about business problems again. In other words, you are never leaving your working place.
That has two negative side effects. The first is that you will experience a burnout because your brain in fact has no free time, it's always in work, work, work. Second, it is much easier to criticize at home where there are no other people around and here we go again: personal attacks.
There is an easy way to avoid that. Well, the advice is simple but to make it work requires a bit of work from both sides. Cut work talk to short conversations in the morning as a kind of preparing for work, and in the evening to allow your brain to slowly switch from work to free time.
Some people even go to work separately and we say why not, try it and if works for you, do it. Some people call their better half miss or mister and that is helping them keep a professional distance. Some set the rule of not mentioning work on, say, Saturday. If it works for you, go for it.
Some will say that in some situations, as is the case with company's founders or in creative industries, it's impossible to avoid talk about the business and that in some cases arguing is bringing good results. That is correct to some extent. If you take a look about successful and satisfied people in those cases, you will notice one important thing: they have plenty of experience.
That experience tells them this: no personal attacks, duties are clearly separated, and there is always free time.
When experienced creative people argue, they always argue about work, never about personal strength and weaknesses. Then, no matter how deeply engaged in their work they may look to you, there is always time when the work is forbidden. And they also know that the separation of duties is necessary if you want to avoid "Oh, leave it to me!" situations that can easily escalate.
In short: if you are working with your spouse, remember that you didn't say "I will respect you to the day I end this project" at your wedding but most probably something more romantic. So, don't let the work destroy romance or vice versa. ■
What to read next
More inside POST