This past year I went back to work. I will admit, it was not by choice but it was the right thing to do. It’s actually an amazing gig. I work during “school hours” (I know, I actually work whenever I can fit in a few minutes but these are my “office hours”). I telecommute from my home office and don’t have to miss my kids’ activities or nurse emergency calls. I love my job as a Business and Social Media Manager at Rallyverse, Inc. There is one small drawback; I work for my husband.
Working with your spouse is hard, working FOR your spouse is a recipe for disaster so you need rules. Rules make things much easier to navigate the minefield that is working for your spouse.
- Report to someone else: My husband is the CEO, this is his rodeo and I am just one of the work hands. I originally reported directly to my husband. The lines of marital/work boundaries get blurred in this scenario. The heated argument regarding the trash earlier in the day can bubble up when you discuss a work product issue. To avoid daily conflict, I now report to the middleman. I currently sit under our Senior Vice President in the flowchart. Joe and I get along much better but I am confident my SVP is pulling his hair out. I mean who really wants the boss’ wife as a responsibility? Thankfully he’s a great guy and a great boss.
- Don’t Work on the Weekends: Starting a new company is all consuming and can take over our weekends. We try to be Mom and Dad, not CEO and underling on the weekends unless it’s necessary. Working on the weekends, after the kids go to bed or while watching a baseball game is sort of part of the deal since we work in Social Media. This is a hard one but we carve out blocks of time that are work free so we can be a family.
- Respect each other: At work my husband is the CEO. I can be a snarky piece of work some days but I do my best to remember I am now working and can’t be discussing his inability to wipe down a counter after making a sandwich. This respect goes both ways. When I am the harried WAHM he doesn’t harp on me about what I need to be doing at work. He respects my need to be Mom and turn off the other stuff. As he says, “I may be the boss here but she is the one in charge at home”. I love this line.
- Date Night: I am not going to lie; we are TERRIBLE at date night. We suck eggs at date night. I am not great about going out on a date. I would rather watch a Game of Thrones marathon on the couch after the kids are in bed sipping a glass of wine and enjoying his company (which actually means I collapse on the couch while he watches bad tv and we call it a date). We are working on this point. It’s important to remember that you are spouses first, parents next and then work associates third. It’s a hard one, hopefully we’ll go out one of these nights soon. I am very fond of the guy, I just wish I had enough energy to get dressed up and have a date.
- Communicate: Our Company is young. As a start-up you try different scenarios and see what works best. The same is true when trying to find your rhythm working together. When I worked for my husband we didn’t communicate well, we got mad at each other. The marital relationship can take an innocent comment and make the other person feel attacked. I finally told my husband I loved him too much to work for him. He couldn’t separate Kathryn his wife, from Kathryn the Manager. I couldn’t separate Joe my husband from Joe the boss (it’s hard when your partner is now the boss, very very hard). We had a lot of honest discussions on how we could make this work. Communication is the key in any relationship, but it’s vital in this scenario. I promise you will avoid a lot of growing pains if you can communicate during the process.
Five seemingly simple rules and it’s all better. Well, not really. Like I said, you will need to recalibrate as things evolve. While working for your spouse is hard there is one huge benefit, I can’t get fired for sleeping with the CEO.
Do any of you work with your spouse? Do you have rules that have worked for you? Let us know.