There came a day when opportunity knocked at our door and said, “Hey! Wanna quit your day jobs?” Like any typical millennial on a quest to find meaningful work, my then-boyfriend and I said “HELL. YES!” without hesitation. At the time, my boyfriend and I had been dating for two-ish years and we thought going into business together was a totally viable idea, vowing to curate a gallery of cute dog photos, unlike anything the Internet had ever seen. Intoxicated by the air of freedom and independence, we would no longer be ruled by a 9-to-5. No, we were free to do as we pleased, to see if our Big Idea had wings.
We were so caught up in all the hubbub of building something from the ground up that we didn’t realize that we were saying goodbye to the idea of co-workers. We were unaware that we were volunteering to work in the endless salt mine that is owning your own business (which, BTW, you can’t just “clock out” of because it is a flesh eating disease that you carry around everywhere you go, FYI JSYK).
And we certainly didn’t stop to seriously consider the implications that working together would have on our relationship.
Unlike an engagement ring, we tethered an interdependent ball and chain to one another, mixing business with pleasure. We hadn’t yet committed to “forever,” but we were risking our livelihoods and our relationship by taking this very serious step. In forming a company, we were inadvertently agreeing to spend practically every single second of every single day together, for better or worse.
Well, when you assess the situation retrospectively and lay the past bare in a blog post to share with strangers, it seems pretty damn foolish that we rushed into things so blindly and cocksurely. We didn’t totally fail because here we are three years later, now married and still in business. I am happy to report that I love my husband 24/7 and it is because I have come to acknowledge a few simple “ahas!”
Come to terms with it: there are going to be moments when you hate your partner’s guts. Just know that this anger is going to feel different than an annoyance with a co-worker you’re not going home with. It’s cool – you can hate for a hot second, as long as you’re willing to put in the work to get back on track.
In a normal work environment, you are hired for a role. When working with family, it is just as important for each partner to have their clearly defined position or an acknowledged area of expertise. This helps create an effective system for decision making. It is easy to overstep boundaries when you are sleeping with the boss, but it’s extremely important for the viability of the business that you identify your partners’ strengths, acknowledge where you’re weaker, and find a symbiotic power structure.
If you’re having issues in the workplace, usually you get to go home, vent to your partner, and are consoled. You give up that ability when you work together. It’s also not as easy to share frustrations with your girlfriends without raising an alarm that you’re on the brink of divorce. When working with your spouse, you are navigating complex dynamics and you need to be able to sort through that mess. It’s even better if your sounding board is objective!
It is so important for the soul to have its own space to breathe within the shared life. If you experience an uptick in time required together – whether you own a family business or are in the process of planning a wedding – make sure you take time to “do you.” Gently nudge your partner to do the same.
Working with your significant other can be a beautiful thing if you’re up for the challenge. The increased amount of time together will indeed result in more fighting, but it also can deepen your understanding of the human you have decided to make a life with. It’s easy to succumb to the stresses, but so necessary to celebrate even the tiniest of victories along the way, because – holy crap! We’re doing this together and it’s working!
Do you and your partner have a particularly good tactic or piece of advice that helps keep your shared life in balance? Pray tell!
BY Ashley Paguyo El Shourbagy - March 10, 2017
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.