avoid stress when you work with your spouse

Are you in a working relationship? Are you in business with someone who is your significant other?  What I mean is – are you in a business relationship with your husband, wife, or the person that you love and hold dearly in your life? By now you’ve probably experienced some great joy in that relationship and you’ve probably also recognized that there are some traps in that as well, and you’re probably looking to avoid stress when you work with your spouse

In the work that I do, I help business leaders be efficient, more productive, manage their time efficiently. and be less stressed. In business, we are constantly looking to be more productive and efficient. However, when you are working with a significant other, it can also put some stress on you and on your relationship. I want to look at ways that we can protect the relationship, but also enable the relationship for efficiency within the business. Now, I am not a relationship coach, but I am here to give you some pointers so that you can prevent the stress that can occur when couples are working together professionally. Here are some things that you can do that can really help protect working relationships.

1. Set Boundaries To Avoid Stress When You Work With Your Spouse

A good boundary to start with, is not talking about work or the business in the bedroom. That should be a sacred space for you and your significant other. It is a place of rest, love and recovery. So, you don’t want to bring work into that space. You’re going to have to be firm with each other, but make some rules around that. I would also encourage you to set boundaries around the times that you do talk about work. When is the shut-off time? When do you stop talking about work once you are at home? You want to be able to keep some of that working life at work. But, inevitably, it is going to creep home. So for starters, set some strict boundaries about when you and your partner stop talking about work in order to avoid stress when you work with your spouse

2. Practice Mindfulness and Awareness in your business

When you set out to start the business together, there are some things that were fundamentally important to both of you. These are things that you really want to sustain through the life of that business. Inevitably the business is going to evolve and change. So you want to be able to look back and go “I always said that this was important and this is what I want to hang on to and protect”. Sit down individually and write down the things that are really important to you. Why are you doing this work in the first place? What do you want to look after and protect?  Really take time to think and write them down. 

To avoid stress when you work with your spouse, I would also encourage you to write down what you want for your significant other and how you want to support them. Do you want them to work fewer hours? Do you want to ensure that you can spend some quality time together? Do you want to protect your weekends? What is important for you in the context of the other person? Write those things down. 

Do it individually and share it with each other. Document these things well. It will really sink in when you share it with the other person. It’s almost like wedding wows – but not quite 😉 

3. Think about and define your role within the business 

Working relationships are complex because you wear two hats. You have your job description and the work you do within the business. On the other hand, you’re also a partner. When your business grows you will need to start delegating tasks to other people. Maybe one day you actually want to replace yourself. But what is being replaced? What is the actual job? It is really important to establish what you do as a professional and what you do as a partner. Establish what sits within the bounds of your job and what sits within the bounds of your relationship. Be mindful of where these things cross over. 

If it helps, create a Venn diagram. Draw two circles that intersect. Label one circle as your role as a partner, and the other circle as your role as a professional.  Write down all the things that are exclusive as your role as your manager in the professional circle. Similarly, write down the things you do that are exclusive to being a partner within the context of work in the other circle. Then establish what things you do as both a professional and a partner in the middle, where the circles cross over.  For example, this can be things like going and grabbing your partner’s lunch, picking up dry cleaning etc. The aim is to establish the acts or roles that fall at the intersection of these two circles. 

There are things that you do in your work environment because of your relationship with the other person in order to avoid stress when you work with your spouse. Establish the things that you don’t expect any employee to do, but you do it purely because you are a partner to the person. 

You want to make sure that above all else, that an employee is empowered, and that  a personal relationship does not impact their position. So this is where the boundaries you set become very important. 

Map it out and actually think about where these boundaries exist. These kinds of things are going to help protect your relationship in the context of the work environment. It will reduce any stressors or tension that can occur because of the complexity of a relationship that exists within the workspace. 

Now that you know a few ways to avoid stress when you work with your spouse, if you are a couple that is working together in the workplace, I would love to hear any tips that you have. Please comment and share your tips below. I would also love to hear your feedback. I’m looking forward to seeing what you share. 

Do’s:

  • Establish Boundaries 
  • Be mindful about what’s important to you 
  • Figure out your role as an employee and a partner within the business. 

Don’ts: 

  • Don’t break boundaries 
  • Confuse your roles as a professional and as a partner 
  • Lose track of what you started the business for

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P.S. If you’re a business leader (Executive Management, Business Owner etc.) and you’d like more advice, tips, and information on managing time, stress & wellbeing, join our Facebook tribe of Resilient Leaders -Managing Time, Stress & Wellbeing.

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About the Author:

Barbara CliffordBarbara Clifford (The Time Tamer) is a co-founder of The Hinwood Institute. She is the lead trainer and coach in Time Management. She is a recognized leader in Stress Management. An experienced coach, speaker, columnist and facilitator, Barbara’s work with The Hinwood Institute assists people to unclutter mess, make order from chaos, and swap the shackles of overwhelming for freedom. Barbara’s clients move from the relentless hamster wheel to waking inspired, motivated, making decisions with purpose and achieving peak performance. She lives in the desert of Alice Springs, Australia working with people around the country.

Her professional experience has included contracts with small business, Not For Profits, Aboriginal Organisations, Media, Marketing, Aged Care, Universities, Health Services and Cruise Ships