‘I Compete With My Spouse At Work’


“Harsh words are exchanged. We say heated things, and it must terrify the people who can hear through the walls. One time,” she adds, laughing, “we actually had our hands around each other’s necks.” -Robin Green, who with her husband, Mitchell Burgess, writes and executive produces CBS’ Blue Bloods.

Climbing the career ladder can be quite tricky in itself. Imagine adding your relationship with your spouse or significant other into that mix. But believe it or not, people do this all the time.  According to the National Federation of Independent Business, there are currently more than one million husband-wife partnerships that co-own businesses. But we are always hearing about the couples that say they adore working with their spouse and they can’t imagine it anyway else. But what about the people who find that work adds a whole new layer of competition to their relationship? We decided to talk to some of those people who say they compete with their spouse at work.

“The problem in the case of a spouse is the potential emotional boomerang. Usually what happens is, if it doesn’t work out, the employee leaves and you never see them again,” Craig Aronoff, co-chairman of the Family Business Consulting Group and founder-director of the Cox Family Enterprise Center at Kennesaw State University told Bankrate.com. “But in this case, if it doesn’t work out, you go home and have dinner together. That’s where the problem lies.”

This is what happened to Heather Armstrong (of Dooce.com.) She recently 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.

But the couples we talked to sounded pretty secure about their relationship and their work.

Kerry Linda Martin-Moore owns a boutique sales training and coaching firm, 3:17 Consulting Services, with her husband.

“Working together pushes us to the next level of success. Instead of sitting at home watching TV, we enjoy time together at networking events, seminars, and even conference calls. Games and small competitions include making the best connections, adding the most clients, booking the most training days – and we have “awards” each month.

Our passions aligned so nicely: we both love working with as many clients as possible to help them exceed their goals.”


Dawn Meade, a marketing and media coordinator, worked with her husband at the same company for more than 13 years. Last year they both left that company (at the
same time) and went to work for competing companies in the same industry.

“We have been competitive at work, but at the end of the day, we both love each other, and our industry, so it all works out well. Plus, we’ve both achieved substantial success in the industry in differing ways, so both of us have “won” so to speak.”

For the most part it sounds like a little competition in a relationship is healthy. According to experts, healthy competition can energize a relationship, really helping the couple to see one another as individuals, with some couples claiming that it can actually operate as an aphrodisiac.

Nellie Akalp is the CEO of CorpNet.com, an online legal document filing service. She has been married to her husband and business partner for over 13 years and the couple has started and sold their first company, MyCorporation.com, in 2005 and started their new venture. CorpNet.com, in 2009. They have four children. On being competitive with her husband Nellie told The Grindstone:

“I truly believe that  a great contributor to our success both in our business ventures and in our marital relationship has to do with that fact that we compete with one another in a very healthy, friendly way on a daily basis. Although we work and co-own a company together, we work in two different departments and try to push each other to meet each other’s deadlines by competing with each other to see who can get to the finish line first and who’s projects will bring in the most revenue for that quarter. It actually makes it more fun, bring in a bit of excitement into our lives as marital partners and makes things more exciting for us as a couple and makes us more attracted to one another.. so it definitely helps our relationship.”

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