How to work with your colleague/spouse

How to work with your colleague/spouse

Working with your spouse either sounds like the most amazing idea in the world or it’s the real-life definition of “nope”. Some couples can handle it, while others aren’t willing to take the risk. It really is dependent on the relationship and the individuals. But for those who have decided to see their partner basically 24 hours a day, there are a few things you need to know to keep the balance just right.

Separate worlds

No matter how much research you do, this will undoubtedly come up. When you work with your partner, the “how was work?” question becomes a little bit more complicated. For one, your spouse knows exactly who you’re talking about, what area of work you are talking about, and then becomes aware of every piece of gossip that should maybe have been kept to yourself.

Separating home and work life isn’t the worst of ideas. If you are more business partners than colleagues, then the dynamics are slightly different and business outside of working hours may be acceptable if you are both up for the conversation. But, generally speaking, you shouldn’t bring the stress of work home, or the stress of home to work. It will take a toll on your relationship in the long run and you really don’t want that.

Before you start this journey, draw up some boundaries that you can both agree on and try your best to keep to them.

“Me” time

Following off the separation of the worlds is scheduling some “me” time where your spouse is not in sight or near you and you can just relax for a while. Hopping between work and home relationships is tiring and you still need a few moments in the day where you can spend time by yourself. Whether this time is used to exercise, catch up on a series, browse at online shopping stores or sneakily treating yourself to some ice cream – you and your spouse need to do it.

Professionalism

Just because you’re seeing the love of your life every day in the office, that doesn’t mean you can interact with them the way you would at home. You’re getting paid to do your job, not to mention that the rest of the office won’t be too impressed with all the lovey-dovey stuff. Especially the single-pringles, shame.

Keep it professional and don’t take what happens in the office personally. If you mess up, you won’t get special treatment from your partner if they’re your supervisor. And any criticism that comes your way is still coming from a loving place, it’s just slightly more serious when the business is at stake.

Keep it fair

Working with your spouse, as just mentioned, doesn’t guarantee special treatment of any kind. It makes team and department dynamics tense and other colleagues aren’t exactly appreciative of favouritism. The office is a place of fair game where projects and praise are assigned according to an individual’s strengths and contributions to the business.

And if everyone can acknowledge that your partner has indeed been doing an amazing job, then there should be no hard feelings. And on the other side of the spectrum is completely “ignoring” your partner for fear of showing favouritism. That will also make the rest of the office uncomfortable, as if they’re intruding on your relationship.

Just be fair and there shouldn’t be any issues.

Respect

As long as you respect your partner at work (and at home, for that matter) it will be easy to stay fair.

At the end of the day, they were hired to do a job and if they’re needing to report to you with proposals and work-related matters, you need to respect what they have to say. For example, if your partner walks into your office looking for approval with the new Turnstar Systems (http://www.turnstar.co.za/) quotes for the building’s security upgrade, you can’t disregard their professional opinion for no reason.

This is their field of expertise and they’ve done the necessary research to bring the offer to your desk. If the two of you had an argument at home before coming to work, you can’t hold that against them by belittling their position in the company and being stubborn about it.

As a general rule, if you want to successfully work with your spouse, just be respectful. End of story.

Prioritise your marriage

If the whole working together thing doesn’t work, even after setting boundaries and being respectful of one another, rather let it go. Maybe your relationship isn’t ready yet for something like this and it can be tough on a marriage that’s possibly just starting out.

Whatever you do, prioritise your marriage. One of you can always look for another job, but your marriage is permanent and you’d prefer it to be a happy one, not a stressed one. There are other things to stress your marriage out, like having babies and pleasing in-laws.

 

Authored by: Pete Anderson

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