5 Tips for Working With Your Spouse -- and Making It Work

5 Tips for Working With Your Spouse -- and Making It Work

Scott Thomas and Maria Orozova

Image credit: Mary Kang

In today’s economic climate and competitive job market, it’s common to hear someone dedicated to their career say they are “married to their work. However, there has been a recent upward trend in couples who actually fuse their marriage with their work.

According to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 1.4 million businesses in the U.S. are run by a husband-and-wife team. With this number steadily rising, it’s clear that modern couples are finding ways to work with their spouse and have an incredibly fulfilling career and marriage. But how?

Related: The Pros and Cons of Working With Your Spouse

I am the president and creative director of design of marketing house, The MOD Studio. My husband is the president of revenue growth agency Intelechy Group. We are a testament to the success spouses can find when they combine forces and work together professionally.

We live and work in Austin and made the decision to form a partnership between our companies in order to offer a broader scope of services to our robust roster of clients, which includes Exclusive Resorts, Lexus, Circuit of the Americas, Dell, Four Seasons Residences and more. While we have experienced our fair share of roadblocks and lessons learned along the way, we can say that our businesses and marriage have valiantly withstood the tests of this gutsy merger.

Whether you are considering starting a business venture with your partner or need guidance smoothing out your existing working relationship, read the advice below about how to maintain a vibrant and fulfilling connection with your spouse -- both in the office and at home.

1. Strive for an overall balance between your work and personal lives.

While the rule of thumb has always been “keep your work and personal lives separate," it is becoming increasingly unrealistic in our tech-centered world to be able to unplug from work once the 5 p.m. whistle sounds -- especially when you own your own business.

Rather than trying to maintain an even work / home equilibrium on a day-to-day basis, try balancing out particularly hectic stretches of putting in extra hours at the office with relaxing getaways sans responsibilities. Rewarding yourself with some R&R after busy seasons will ensure you don’t fall into an “all work, no play” mindset, which can be detrimental to your mental health -- and your relationship.

Related: The 5 Commandments of Running a Successful Business With Your Spouse

2. Leverage each other’s unique strengths.

It’s true that opposites attract. Use this to your advantage! Deciding roles and delegating responsibilities based on your individual abilities and interests ensures you are complementing each other’s talents and bridging any potential gaps. For example, spouses who are social and gifted in networking and making connections can benefit from partners who are better at behind-the-scenes, operational duties and vice versa.

3. Decide on a common goal, and check in with each other frequently.

No road map is created without a destination in mind, so agreeing upon what you are working toward will keep you both on track for success. Orozova and Thomas have found that maintaining open lines of communication and regular progress updates keep them in tune with each other’s ideas and help them avoid roadblocks before they arise. While you may not always agree upon the best route to take during your journey, keep in mind that you both want to arrive at the same destination.

4. R.E.S.P.E.C.T., 24/7

All couples know that having and showing respect for your partner is a must-have in any marriage, but it’s easy to let tempers flare when business is involved. Even if you already have an understanding with your spouse, use a tone that is empathetic and respectful in your personal relationship. Having a conversation with your other half about maintaining the same level of dignity in the office as you do at home will prevent feelings from getting hurt and small disagreements from turning into full-blown issues.

Related: 8 Ways to Build a Business Without Strangling Your Spouse

5. Above all, marriage comes first.

Your shared career with your spouse will only be as strong as your personal relationship, so putting in the time and effort to build a strong emotional foundation will dictate your success. Support each other unconditionally, stay attentive to each other’s needs, embrace compromise and keep in mind that even if you are a CEO, you are a spouse above all. A successful career may be what you want, but like the Beatles say, “Love is all you need.”