Because it’s Valentine’s Day, I can’t help but think about mine and George’s unique situation. When we got engaged after dating only nine months people raised their eyebrows. When we decided to plan a wedding in three months and get married almost exactly a year from our first date people asked if we were sure. And when we decided to work together after being married only a few months…. people asked if we were crazy! Or at a minimum warned us how difficult it would be. It wasn’t a decision we made lightly or entered into under the notion that it would be “easy,” but there are some things we do to keep the love and business alive.
- Keep work at work.: As simple as that statement sounds, it is tough to live by but so crucial for success for us. While we were away on our honeymoon, George’s parents planted a small tree in our front yard. When we got home, my father-in-law instructed us that we were to leave all of the “stuff” from our day at that tree and enter into our home unburdened by the stresses of the day. It’s been a year and a half since then, and we remind ourselves frequently when ending our work day to drop any disagreements we made have had at the office at the ginkgo tree.
- Don’t bring the stresses of home to the office.: Just as important as leaving work issues at the office, we have agreed to not bring any disagreements from home into the office. That means if George forgets to take out the trash one morning, I can’t fuss at him about it until we get back home that night!
- Divide and conquer.: This one isn’t always possible, but when we can, we try to divide our tasks and handle them independently from each other. This was a game changer for our work relationship and allows us some time to ourselves during the day.
- Learn each other’s work style.: This is applicable to any coworker scenario. Learn how your partner/coworker operates at work. If you know part of their morning routine is closing their office door and catching up on emails uninterrupted for the first 30 minutes of the day, respect that!
- Understand that it won’t always (or maybe ever) be 50/50.: In theory a partnership means that each partner is accountable for an equal portion of the work, but in reality, there’s a delicate balance of give and take that will rarely find the division at 50/50. For us, this usually works in our favor. George owns the company that we work for so sometimes he may be tied up working on the company side, and I have to handle more than 50% of our sales work. I manage the marketing for our company. Sometimes I may have a larger amount of marketing work, and George has to handle more of the sales work. Sometimes I am taking the afternoon off for a hair appointment or he is catching a round of golf on Friday afternoon – the other one steps up! There’s give and take, not a divisive split.
- Know when enough is enough.: The number one thing for us is the ability to quit. When we decided to work together, we both agreed that our marriage would always come first. We entered into this business partnership with the agreement that if our marriage ever started to suffer, we would stop working together. Simple as that.
Now don’t misunderstand me – it has been HARD and we have not always handled it gracefully, but with hard work, understanding, and lots of prayer, it is definitely manageable and can be very rewarding! George and I have been business partners for over a year now and are still excited to celebrate Valentine’s Day together!