CREATING BALANCE WHEN YOUR BUSINESS PARTNER IS ALSO YOUR LIFE PARTNER
There is a lot of talk about the work/life balance. It is a tricky balancing act that constantly shifts depending on what needs your attention more at the time. And then to further complicate matters, you and your husband become business partners, and any hope of boundaries or balance goes out the window. Still, you feel pressured to draw some lines around what is “work” and what is “life”. My husband and I have been business partners for five years now. It has been a process of experimenting and figuring out what works for us, but we feel like we’ve come to really embrace this tension between work and life.
There are no “rules” in this game.
You do not have to have specific lines drawn of “this is where we talk/do business” and “this is where we talk/do life”. Or if that does work best for you – you can. Whatever you need. For us, we pepper in work throughout our daily lives. We’ll pause the tv show we’re watching because we want to discuss a project or talk through an e-mail reply. Then, we’ll hit play and go back to just hanging out. Some of our best brainstorming and goal setting happens when we’re out on date night.
Just like everything else with your life partner, you have to learn to communicate your needs. For example: money stresses me out, but my husband is always working to make sure our finances are in order. He’ll be going through spreadsheets or wanting to make spending plans, and sometimes I have to ask him to table the conversation. If it’s either too late in the evening to where I’ll lose sleep stressing about it, or I’m too deep in an edit to focus on anything bigger picture, it is best for me to put it off. Instead, we’ll schedule a “business meeting” where we mutually agree to reserve time to just talk through business, ideas, etc.
Just like when you need help around the house, or need to talk through something you can’t get out of your head, ask for what you need from your partner for work. In turn, make sure you’re open and receptive to their needs as well. Sometimes, it’s okay to put a “no work” rule on whatever we’re doing to remind ourselves that we’re more than business partners – even if we’re just watching tv or eating a meal together. When we take vacations, we make it very clear if one of us has an expectation of non-working time (not even e-mail/social media), or if we’re planning on sprinkling in productive time as well.
We’ve both learned to not be afraid to say what we need to be living in and discussing at each moment.
In addition, spend some time apart every once in awhile. If you’re running a business, you’re probably spending your days, nights, and weekends together. As important as it is to have “couple friends”, make sure you each have your own group as well. My husband has a standing poker night with his friends on Fridays, and I will use that time to fill up my introverted energy and relax at home. Then at some point during the weeknights or weekends, I meet up with friends for coffee, brunch, etc. This practice was suggested by our pre-marital counselor (before we were even thinking about running a business) for the sake of maintaining our individual identities in the context of marriage, and to keep any resentment or co-dependence at bay.
When working and doing life together, it’s even more essential to get out of your own bubble. You will be more ready and willing to put in the hours needed together if you’ve had time outside of your four walls. Some new scenery and human engagement can truly re-inspire and re-energize you. No matter how much you love hanging out with each other, make an intentional effort to invest in your outside life as well. Your partner, your marriage, and your business will thrive by taking time for a healthy, differentiated relationship. Mostly, I just want to encourage you to own it and have fun.
So much of pursuing your life and calling requires you to be fully, unapologetically you.
It’s about creating a life that feels right to you, regardless of if it sounds right to anyone else. I love spending my days working alongside my husband, and just doing life with him. We have so many laughs, fulfilling conversations, and great adventures. We own the tension of the work/life imbalance that allows for a life that’s never boring.
Photos by: Eun Creative