Let’s talk about working with your spouse.
So many people say: “Don’t do it, don’t work with your spouse, it ruins the relationship!” I’m here to tell you it is possible, but it takes serious work.
One strategy that I have found particularly helpful in working with my spouse is acknowledging that there are two hats in your relationship. One is a business hat, and one is a relationship hat. You can even go and buy the hats and put them on each other’s head, because it’s really important to know which hat you’re wearing when you’re interacting with each other. This comes from the notion that how you treat a colleague is very different than how you treat your spouse. So when you’re discussing business, you treat your spouse, or your partner, or your loved one, the way that you would treat a colleague, which generally isn’t emotional. Your relationship, on the other hand, has a lot of emotions.
So it’s very important for you to distinguish: “Am I talking to you as my business associate, or am I talking to you as my loved one?” And when you understand that, and they understand that, then it makes everything easier.
Another strategy that I’ve actually used is that when I write emails to my husband, the ones that are personal are written with loving language and start with “my love,” while the ones that are business, are written more professionally and signed with “sincerely”. It sounds silly, but it actually puts me in the head space of treating him like a colleague when we’re discussing business, and he knows how to respond.
The final strategy is that we can talk about business only between 9:00AM and 5:00PM. Before and after that, I will literally be sitting next to my husband, with a question about business, and I will take out my phone and write him an email, so that we can schedule a time to talk about it. That’s what I would do with a colleague. If I just sit there and talk about business whenever I want to, it will take away from our relationship time, and that’s not healthy for anybody.