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Working with Your Husband, Wife, or Significant Other

Updated on February 25, 2013

A Couple at Work

Whether it is a small family business or a large corporation, circumstances often find 2 people in a committed relationship also working together. There are many advantages and disadvantages to working with your significant other, so if you have a choice, you should consider those first.

If you don't have a choice and you are working in close proximity, one working for the other or side by side, there are many things you can do to make things run smoothly for each other and your co-workers.

However, if you are thinking about getting into a relationship with a co-worker, you might want to read this, first:

Office Romance - Career Killer or Fair Game

Getting romatantically involved with a co-worker can change everything about your job and career path, so it is best to weigh your options, and make sure you are doing the right thing.


Pros of Working With Your Significant Other


First, you can share a carpool to work. Save gas and save money. You may even save a car payment if you keep only one car.


If you love your significant other (I hope you do, but that is another issue) it is nice to be able to have the extra time with them each day, especially if you work long hours, overtime or weekends. Quality time at lunch, grabbing breakfast on your way in or dinner or drinks on the way home are more perks of having the same schedule.


If you both love what you do, you truly get to enjoy it together. Not only do the two of you get to enjoy something you are passionate about together, but your business or company benefits because you are often brainstorming and problem solving on your commute or at home. This can make the work lives of the couple much easier and less stressful.


Two people who work together have may have learned how to communicate well together in the workplace, and that carries into their relationship at home as well. They can be more fair and professional, with more understanding, less yelling, and simpler division of tasks to get the job done at work and at home. Plus, your significant other truly understands what you mean when you talk about how your day went and can empathize and advise.


There may be times when one person is busier or more stressed than the other. There are countless opportunities at work and at home to make sure you are there for each other during these times, either helping each other out with work, or taking on a little more at home to balance things out.


Cons of Working With Your Significant Other


There can be such thing as spending too much time together. Spending their working lives together may make a couple feel the need to spend their free time away from each other.


If a couple is just not that good at communication, working together will exasperate the issue. Arguing at work will make things extremely awkward and uncomfortable for co-workers and will expose the couple as unprofessional and dysfunctional.


Sometimes when a couple is working together, they become a team of two, barring opportunities for others to be involved in projects, ideas and camaraderie. A "lovey-dovey" couple at work will make co-workers' eyes roll. Depending on how closely the couple works, this could have a detrimental effect on the business and/or team.


Problems at home become problems at work and vice versa. Serious arguments or relationship issues can carry into work and again make things squirmy around the rest of the staff. Disagreements at work may strain the couple's love life.


A close personal relationship at work puts a couple under deeper scrutiny. It can make co-workers and the boss uncomfortable and can ruin jobs and careers. One or both can be moved to a different department, ruining opportunities for advancement or they can even be fired. Simply put, a relationship at work can be a career killer.


How to Work Together

To make things easier for each other and others around you, as a couple, you must follow a few simple rules. There is no guarantee that people will be comfortable working around you or that you will not suffer consequences if you are working for someone else other than yourselves, but there are many things you can do to make sure you are as professional as possible.


It is best that 2 people in a relationship in the workplace lay down some ground rules together and bring everything out in the open, especially if things are out of hand, but hopefully before they ever get to that point. This is an excellent conversation to be had in a neutral location, outside the workplace or home. At this point you can go over the rest of my rules and come to agreements on the following points.


Although your co-workers will never forget that you two are a couple and may even have some less than supportive feelings about working for a couple, going out of your way to be professional will keep them from focusing on it. Keep your hands to yourselves, keep romance outside of the workplace, keep personal conversations under wraps and keep it business as usual.


Simply put, you must both agree NOT to yell in the workplace. Maybe yelling at home is normal for you, or yelling amongst co-workers is commonplace in your workshop, but a couple yelling at each other at work is not acceptable. If you find it difficult to stick to this rule, agree that calling a time out ends a conversation. Sort your thoughts and come back in 30 minutes when you can speak in a normal tone to one another.


If one of you is working for the other, remember to respect that in the workplace. The boss is the boss is the boss and that's it. Not a democracy. Not anarchy. Not a partnership. If you are the subordinate of your wife, then you must defer to her or suffer the same consequences as anyone else (God help you!). If you are partners in a business, sit down and go through your strengths and weaknesses and decide who is the boss of what. If one is great at marketing, then that individual may take the lead on marketing related work and the other one can handle finances or other strengths. This will ensure that each task isn't started with an argument or power struggle and the best person for the job is in charge.


One excellent rule of thumb is to remember, you are never alone. This will remind you to be on your best behavior at all times. Arguing, or even joyous laughter behind a closed office door will alienate co-workers and give them ammo for office gossip. Being a couple in the workplace means beings slightly hyper-aware of your relationship and the perception of its influence in the workplace.


Finally, always remember that you love each other, and there are going to be times where one of you outranks the other or trumps the other on decisions. You may not always agree on decisions or situations at work, but if you can agree to leave negativity behind when you go home each day, you can live and work together peacefully.

Keep Your Hands to Yourself

Don't get all shmoopy at work!

Keep that PDA out of the office so you don't make the rest of your colleauges cringe and gag. There's a time and a place for everything...

Working Together Can Work for You

When I tell people that my husband and I work together, people often tell me that they could never do that. I always feel that if you can't work together, how can you live together?

Working together can be a very rewarding experience, but it takes much the same type of comprimise and effort that it does to live together with someone. It wasn't always as easy as it is, now, to work alongside my husband, but we have learned to appreciate, respect and support one another in such a profoundly effective way. I can't imagine how people could want to work with strangers, instead.


Famous Couples Who Work(ed) Together

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson - Acted in and produced movies together

Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball - "I Love Lucy" comedy show duo

Bill and Melinda Gates - Met at work and work on their charity foundation together.

Zigfried and Roy - Vegas entertainers and tiger trainers

George Burns and Gracie Allen - Comedy duo

Ozzie and Harriet Nelson - Actors "Ozzie and Harriet"

Christo and Jean-Claude - Contemporary artists

Comments and Questions

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      5 years ago

      It can be difficult, but also rewarding! Everyone needs to understand their place and then their will be fewer problems!


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