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5 Secrets To Working With Your Spouse

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5 Secrets To Working With Your Spouse

Whether the idea of working with your spouse thrills or terrifies you, you’re on the right track.

Creating and building together is one of the greatest joys in a relationship, but it can also be wildly damaging to your bond and your bank account if you don’t have a good strategy for managing your dual roles in each other’s lives.

My husband, Warren, and I have been living, working, and traveling together continuously since 2010. Over this time, we’ve discovered 5 secrets that keep both our business and our love life in the black.

Set Expectations

When we first started working together publishing a website and writing a book, our roles were not clear-cut and we had similar, but not aligned, goals. Of course, we didn’t realize it at the time, but it soon became evident as we worked on different priorities and duplicated efforts.

When we finally had the conversation about what in the heck we were really doing, it was like a light bulb came on.

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“You thought we were doing what?”

“Why would you expect me to do that?”

When your goals and roles are not clear cut, your result will be just as fuzzy as your plan. Take the time to map out exactly what you want for your business and lifestyle and how you each need to work to make it happen so you’re both on the same page and working from the same game plan.

Describe the end goal and how you see your business unfolding and make sure you are in agreement. You might be surprised to find you’re not even in the same ballpark!

You’ll save a lot of time and money, not to mention fights along the way.

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Assign Separate Roles (and Stop Hovering)

No one likes a nag. If you trust your partner enough to go into business together, then you have to trust that he or she will get the job done. Constantly asking for updates, giving advice, and second-guessing will only cause resentment and slow your progress.

Assigning specific roles within your business will allow each person to ‘own’ their duties. Each person has a responsibility, and you stop duplicating efforts.

You also stop wasting energy on ‘checking up’ with the other person, which is easy to do when you’re in a holding pattern with a new business, frustrated over your own workload, or just stressed out about how things are progressing. It’s always easier to nag your partner than face the real issues, but that’s also a habit that will doom your business (and maybe even your relationship).

The key is to know your role and stick with it. You’ve got a business to get off the ground, and it takes 100% attention from each person on their responsibilities to make it successful. Leave the second-guessing and nagging to amateurs.

Assume the Best Intent

If you are the type to bring up all your past hurts every time you have a fight with your romantic partner, working together can be tricky. He or she is not out to get you, especially if they’ve chosen to merge money and effort to go into business together, and when you get melodramatic like that you’re only hurting your business.

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Imagine screaming at a corporate co-worker that she’s always trying to sabotage you because she forgot to tell you about a meeting. Or rolling your eyes in the office and telling a colleague that you have to do everything around here.

If you can’t imagine treating former colleagues that way, don’t even think about doing it to the business partner you love.

Always assume your partner has good intentions and work from there. Mistakes will happen and you will deal with them, but remember who you are coming home to at the end of the day.

You can’t complain about the jerk at work if he or she’s the same person sleeping next to you at night.

Get an Office Manager (Even a Non-human One)

When you’re 50/50 partners, it’s sometimes hard to tell each other what to do or call each other out when something goes wrong. You need to manage your workload, clients, and business development without sacrificing your romantic partnership.

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A third party is an excellent way to keep your communication from turning into a, “You’re not the boss of me!” kind of exchange.

One tool we really like is Nimble, which allows us to track our deals, activities, and contacts. We can also assign activities to each other when we’re working on a collaborative project. You can also use websites like Basecamp from 37 Signals, or Wrike for the same thing.

It’s sometimes easier to have assignments come through as a task from your computer instead of a verbal request from your mate, and when you’re both busy trying to get this business off the ground it is really easy to let those things fall through the cracks. With an online system to manage what you’re doing, you can avoid a lot of forgetfulness and fighting.

Turn It Off

It’s easy to let your new project take over your life. And in the beginning, it might even be necessary. But over time it’s important to flip off the lights from work and enjoy your personal life. Otherwise you’ll turn into co-workers who just happen to live together.

Give yourself mandatory days off or a mutual ‘quitting time’ so you can enjoy meals and activities together. See your friends, or go for a walk. It’s really easy to work all day and night and forgo a social life, healthy food, exercise, and even sex when you’re in startup mode (and sometimes well beyond it).

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You started your business together to create something for your future, to spend time with the person you love, and because you believe in each other.

Don’t ever forget that, and you’ll have relationship and a business that’s always in the black.

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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