Considering working with your spouse, or perhpas you already do? Working with your partner comes with its fair share of benefits and downsides, and there are certainly times when it's OK and times when you should most definitely avoid it.
Here's what you should know about working with your spouse if you don't already, and how to manage it if you're set on doing it or already do.
Is it OK to work with your spouse?
Working with your spouse has to potential be equally enjoyable and destructive (to both your career and your relationship). So when is it OK to work with your spouse? Let's break it down.
It's a good idea to work with your spouse when you both care deeply about the work that you do and neither one of you wants to give up your career to be together (that, of course, can lead to resentment). It's also a good idea when you're both able to be mature, responsible professionals and can leave personal problems at home and leave work at the office. This means that you won't allow any relationship issues to affect your work performances, and you won't allow any work stresses to affect your relationship (or at least you'll both earnestly try!). In other words, if you're confident that you can both separate your relationship and your careers, and you both really want that work, then go for it.
That all said, it's a bad idea to work with your spouse when you're not able to separate your relationship and your work. If you're worried that either of the two will carry into the other, it's probably best for one of you to take a different job or not move forward with your relationship. Likewise, if your employer prohibits workplace relationships, it's not a good idea to work with your spouse for obvious reasons. You don't want to have to keep your relationship a secret, which can not only get you in trouble if you're caught, but can also cause tension in your relationship.
What are the pros of working with your spouse?
Of course, there are some major pros to getting to work with your spouse. Here are 10 pros to doing just that.
- You get to commute to work together, which can make it far more bearable, especially if it's a long one.
- You get to see another side of your partner that you may find inspiring and motivational.
- You get to challenge each other in more ways.
- You will understand each others' work stresses and be able to offer better, more informed advice to one another.
- You will understand each others' work goals and be able to offer better, more informed advice to one another.
- You won't have to worry about one of you spending too much time at the office and not enough time together, since you'll spend more time together at work.
- You'll share many of the same friends from the office, making get-togethers that much more fun for the both of you.
- You can help each other out at work and advocate for one another in the workplace.
- You will be able to network more by introducing each other to more people in the office (even across your departments if you work in different ones), and share contacts.
- You have an automatic lunch buddy.
What are the cons of working with your spouse?
Despite the many upsides, there are some inevitable cons to working with your spouse, as well. Here are 10 cons to doing just that.
- Spending more time together may sound great, but you may find that you need some space, and if you spend all your time together, you won't be getting any.
- You may not want to take work stresses home with you but, because your partner works with you, it's almost inevitable that you'll carry workplace conversations outside of the office.
- If you are working on the same projects at work, and one of you pulls more weight than the other, it can cause tension not only on your team in the workplace but also in your relationship at home.
- If you eat lunch together every day, you may be doing yourself a disservice by not branching out and getting to know other colleagues.
- While sharing the same friends at work may seem fun, it also means that your partner (or you) might vent to your colleague friends about any relationship issues, which can cause drama in the workplace.
- Of course, you can challenge each other in more ways if you work together, but you might not want your partner to constantly be on your back about something work-related.
- Having the same work as your partner means that you don't have your work to call your own — which may be an issue since it's important that you're still able to have separate lives and passions, even if you want to share them with one another.
- Many people enjoy their commuting time because it's time to unwind and be with themselves to just think. If you're always spending that time with your partner, you'll have even less time for yourself.
- While you may see another side of your partner that is attractive to you (perhaps they're a leader at your workplace and have impress qualities), you may also see a side of your partner that is negative (perhaps they're hardheaded at work, treat their employees or colleagues poorly, or they're a procrastinator, etc.) And you may not be able to unsee this side of your partner when you go home together.
- Your employer might not condone workplace relationships, which can restrict the ways in which you interact and, of course, cause tension in your relationship — let alone the fact that having to keep your relationship a secret isn't necessarily easy.
7 tips for working alongside your partner
If you're set on working with your spouse, or perhaps you already do, here are seven tips to managing the ups and downs.
1. Set aside time for yourself.
The reality is that you spend a big bulk of your day at work, which means that, if you work with your spouse, you're going to spend pretty much all of your time with them. Self-care is important, and part of that means spending time with yourself. So make sure you allocate some you time, too.
2. Set aside time with your partner when you promise you won't talk about work.
Again, because you'll spend so much time working with your partner, you don't want your relationship to devolve into all work conversations. While it's important to treat your spouse like a colleague in the office and maintain professional standards, you still want to treat them and be treated like a life partner. And that means making sure that you don't talk or worry about work together all the time. If that requires you to set aside time together when you forbid work chat, do it.
3. Make an ample effort to branch out in the office.
If you work with your spouse, it'll be easy to spend all your time with them — it's comfortable. But make an effort to get to know other people in the office, too. Go to lunch or coffee with other colleagues. Schedule happy hours with your coworkers. And make sure to mingle with others at company parties. The last thing you want to do is isolate yourself in your place of work — because that certainly won't get you recognized.
4. Do your best to leave personal problems at home.
It may be easier said than done, but it's important that you remain professional at the office. Leave your personal problems at home. Don't vent to coworkers about your relationship, which is not only a bad look can will also hurt your partner's image at the office.
5. Do your best to leave work stresses at the office.
Again, leaving work stresses at the office may be easier said than done. Even couples who don't work together have trouble leaving work stress at the office, and this struggle takes a toll on many relationships. But make an ample effort to not let your work concerns bleed into your relationship. If you're going to work together, you need to be able to separate the two.
6. Practice other hobbies and pursue other interests of your own that you can still share with your partner.
If you both have the same job or work for the same company, and you spend the bulk of your time doing the same thing, there's little room left to teach each other new things, which is a big chunk of the fun of a relationship. Make sure you pursue your own other interests outside of work — passions that are unique to you. This way you can still call something your own, and still introduce your partner to it and share your passion with them.
7. Make sure your employer allows your relationship.
Before you even think about working with your spouse, make sure that your employer allows it. Again, you don't want to have to hide your relationship in the workplace. It can get you in trouble, and it can cause tension in your relationship.
There are obvious advantages and disadvantages to working with your spouse. And it's up to you to decide whether or not it's a wise move for both your career and your relationship. Whatever you decide, just make sure that you be honest with both yourself and your partner.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.