My husband and I met while working for the same company. We started dating and making goo-goo eyes over his nightly invoices. Every afternoon, I knew he would stop by my office and we would get to smile and giggle a little, maybe make a date for that weekend. How professional, right?
Once my husband and I got engaged, he found a new job. Our company has a policy against married couples working together. And I think if both of us are being honest with ourselves, we can admit that it’s probably a good thing we have a little distance between our professional and private lives. I think both of us benefit from having a little alone time, then coming home together and maybe discussing our work over dinner. It’s nice that I don’t have to feel emotionally connected to his job. And he gives me better, more objective advice because he doesn’t have an investment in my work problems. All in all, I think the situation has worked out well for both of us.
However, my own situation aside, plenty of couples either continue working for the same company, or choose to start a business together. In fact, husband-wife business partnerships are on the rise! In the United States, there’s estimated to be more than a million businesses co-owned by married partners. That’s over a million couples who wake up in the morning, head to the same office, spend their work day dealing with the same business matters and then go home and have dinner. Together. All the time.
This type of dedication can help young companies get off the ground. When married couples work together, their business can become like their own baby. Their emotional involvement with each other spills over into an attachment with the company, driving people to be more dedicated than they would other-wise be.
Unfortunately, when things go wrong, there’s more on the line than the end of a relationship. In a recent, high-profile example, blogger extraordinaire Heather Armstrong (of Dooce.com) announced her impending split with her husband Jon Armstrong with the caveat that he find work outside their blogging empire Armstrong Media. The man moved out of his home and job all at once, which has to be a devastating blow. It’s just one example of the risks involved with throwing all your eggs into one basket, as the saying goes.
And yet, that fear doesn’t seem to be stopping plenty of couples for making a go of it in the business world. My own brother and sister-in-law started a graphic printing company over 10 years ago. Together, they’ve built a successful business where both of them work everyday. They literally spend almost all of their time together, and ya know what? They love it. In fact, when my husband and I were discussing marriage and talking about relationships that we admired, their’s was at the top of our list. These two manage to have an extremely happy marriage and run a profitable company. I think it’s just an impressive feat.
This Valentine’s Day, I’m wondering how many other couples out there think they could survive to run a company together and then come home and cook dinner together as well? Would you ever want to run a company with your spouse? Or are you like me, happy to have a little separation between the major spheres of your life?