Working with your significant other can be a challenging prospect — troubles at home can bleed over into work, and vice versa. However, with awareness and boundaries, you can maintain your personal and professional relationships, all without sacrificing business success.
Set and Enforce Boundaries
When you're near your significant other at work and at home, it's easy to blur the lines between the two. This can lead to a variety of issues, including lower productivity, increased stress and a lack of personal time. Get the most from your working partnership and personal relationship by setting clear boundaries. During business hours, focus solely on work. If you must discuss personal issues, save them for designated lunch or coffee breaks. After the close of business, leave your professional responsibilities behind and make time for your relationship. Strict boundaries are particularly important for couples that work from home — without them, it's too easy to spend the entire evening taking calls or staring at your laptop.
Maintain Separate Lives
Working with your significant other automatically reduces the time you spend apart. Without separation, you risk losing your individual identities. Soon, the dinner conversation might center only on work, or you might find yourselves getting frustrated with each other on a regular basis. Head off this challenge by actively pursuing separate interests during down time. Take a class, get together with friends or start a solo exercise routine. Get out of the house at least once per day, even if it's just to run to the grocery store. Separate activities keep the relationship interesting and help you feel like yourselves.
Work to Your Strengths
In both your working and professional relationships, keep the peace with your significant other by delegating tasks and projects according to individual strengths. If you're not comfortable with numbers, taking over the accounting duties can only cause strife. Sit down to work out a system for household chores and business tasks, and stick to it. Clear delineations help increase productivity and ensure that you don't step on each other’s toes. Recognize your own limits — if neither person can handle a specific task, outsource it to reduce the strain on your relationship. Hire a cleaning service to do a once-weekly deep clean, for example, or bring in a part-time employee to take over tedious paperwork.
Make an Escape Plan
For some couples, working together simply isn't feasible. Unfortunately, that discovery often comes late in the game, and often at the sacrifice of the business, the relationship, or both. Avoid heartbreak and financial struggle by making an escape plan in the beginning. Decide in advance what to do if your working relationship with your significant other goes south. If the relationship is your priority, you might decide that one person should quit the business. A plan can help you recognize warning signs that it's time for a change before they harm your partnership.
With the right attitude and careful separation, working with your significant other can be a rewarding and lucrative experience. No matter what your situation, open and honest communication can help you emerge from tough times with both relationships intact.
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