Do you know couples who work together? Maybe they both work from home, or they are employed by the same company or educational institution. Perhaps they run a business together, live on a farm, or work in law enforcement. In our marriage we’ve worked together at various times. For eight years we were employed at the same church. Brad was the Senior Pastor and Heidi was the receptionist. Couples who work together share unique challenges.
So how can your marriage thrive when you work together? What can you do to build your marriage? Here are five ideas…
1. Don’t compete with each other.
Instead, respect each other’s areas of expertise. For example, let’s say you run a business together. One spouse may be more personable and love social interactions. They can sense the attitudes and feelings of other employees, customers, or vendors. The other spouse may be gifted in finances and attention to detail. As a couple determine that each of you will focus on your areas of strength. Then encourage that spouse to lead in the areas of their greatest competencies. This is the best practice for business and for your marriage. Cheer each other on as you excel together. “A win for one is a win for the team.”
2. Prepare for hard times.
Although working together is a great benefit for couples, if the economy tanks it can worsen the impact for couples who work for the same company or within the same industry. A few years ago we had married friends who both worked at the same church although they were in different departments. The church suffered a downturn and both of them lost their jobs. Our friends went for several months without a paycheck, creating financial hardship in their marriage.
When your work could be mutually and simultaneously impacted by a job loss it’s even more important to be prepared. Start saving money now. Have a plan for how you can reduce expenses if the need arises. Financial expert Dave Ramsey says you should have at least $1,000 in an emergency fund and eventually three to six months of expenses saved.
3. Separate family and work issues.
When you work together you have a lot to discuss and these conversations can be all-consuming. You’ve got to stay professional at work. And your work is never complete. Schedule times to talk about work issues. Make an appointment and be disciplined to stick to it. That way when you’re with your family or friends you can focus solely on them. Your kids need your attention too. Be proactive in setting boundaries between work and home, and hold each other accountable.
4. Take a break.
All couples need to have fun and play together. Studies show that the happiest couples have fun together. Don’t fall into the trap of working non-stop. Go out on a date. Walk through a park. Have dinner with friends. Play golf. Go to a movie. As a couple do something that invigorates your marriage and causes you to appreciate your spouse.
And “taking a break” may mean you’re sometimes doing things apart from your spouse. That’s okay. You need input from other people in your life. This is one way we grow. As a husband go to a game or a movie with the guys. As a wife go shopping or to lunch with your girlfriends. Every couple needs space and those who work together may need more.
5. Have common goals and different roles.
One of the benefits of working together is you share the same values and goals at home and at work. You understand each other’s work culture and the players. This can help you pray for and encourage your spouse in ways others can’t. You have a unique perspective on the challenges and benefits of your spouse’s job. It’s also important to recognize that because of your differing roles your experiences won’t be exactly the same. Listen and empathize with your spouse over the struggles they face. Let them talk and communicate about their perspectives and experiences. Allow your spouse to be “the expert” in their job. Respect their role especially if their position isn’t as prominent in the organization as yours is.
Working together is a great challenge, but it’s also a rewarding opportunity. We know because we’ve done it. Cheer for each other as you work together to build your marriage.