I Now Pronounce You...

Running a business with your spouse has its share of hurdles, but the finish line can be worth the effort.
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This story appears in the March 2008 issue of Startups. Subscribe »

When you're married business partners, running a company can be doubly difficult, but it can also be rewarding. Find your own niche within the business, says Francie Dalton, a communications management and behavioral sciences expert who's worked with several Fortune 500 firms.

Instead of working in the office together day after day, Dalton suggests working in two different places or in separate departments. Maybe one can go on sales calls and the other can stay and work the phones and computer. "Each needs his or her own breathing space," she says.

But don't expect to be able to keep the business and marriage relationships completely separate. "Keeping business issues confined within the business context and keeping the marriage out of business isn't a practical expectation--and probably isn't even possible," says Dalton.

In other words, don't sweat the inevitable: No matter how well-intentioned you both are, you're going to talk shop at least occasionally at the dinner table, and during a business meeting, you may well find your spouse asking if you want minestrone or meatloaf for dinner.

Edition: July 2017

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