4 Tips for Working With Your Spouse or Romantic Partner

Advice often tells you to keep work and romance separate, but there's a way to make it work.

learn more about Imran Tariq

By Imran Tariq

Halfpoint Images | Getty Images

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's a common line of thinking to keep your work and personal lives separate. And yet, because a business partnership can be similar to a marriage, it makes sense that many spouses and romantic partners do work together on a company. Recently, a friend of mine told me they were curious about this dynamic. My wife and I have somewhat similar careers and both work from home, so in many ways, we work side by side daily.

Related: The Science Behind Working With Your Spouse

Of course, a professional relationship between romantic partners comes down to the dynamic between two people. What works for some couples may not work for others, and no two couples are the same. However, the following tips will be helpful if you're considering starting a business with your partner, or if you've just started working together.

1. Don't expect that both of you will give 50 percent all the time

While cofounders typically split responsibilities and workloads down the middle initially, time shows that it's never fully even. The same is true of marriage or any relationship — at different times, one person is going to be giving more than the other.

Related: How I Built My Business So That My Husband Could Quit His Job

The same is true in building a business. While it can be hard to separate this from the relationship, recognize that one of you will always care more or give more than the other, even if that changes at times. Maybe initially, the one of you who came up with the idea is more excited and is therefore giving more time. But then eventually, different responsibilities come up that shift the effort share. Managing expectations here is critical.

2. Use "I" statements instead of "you" statements

How you communicate matters, too. I was recently catching up with Anthony and Mary Hood, spouses and cofounders of women's jewelry company Hollywood Sensation. They've been married for 10 years and cofounders for eight. They shared that their best advice is to use "I" statements during conversations, especially during the hard ones.

Related: Here's How People Successfully Work With Friends, Family and Even Their Spouse

"Using "I' statements can help convey the way you're feeling and promote a productive, positive conversation, instead of hurting your partner's feelings or ego," they advised. "Rather than saying something like, "You never pick up the slack in the business,' try saying, "I'm feeling overwhelmed in the business.'" These communication strategies should also be used outside the working relationship

3. Understand each other's strengths and weaknesses

One advantage of starting a business with your spouse or partner is how well you know each. You might not be as aware of a cofounder's strengths and weaknesses as you are of your partner's. But being in a relationship is very different than being business partners, and you should be prepared for new strengths and weaknesses to emerge. It should be an ongoing conversation. Talk candidly about each of your strengths and weaknesses in an open and compassionate way, so that you can strategize accordingly.

4. Take time for yourself.

Finally, make sure you have time just for you. Whether it's a solo trip to the gym or a night out with friends, give yourselves some time apart. Everyone — even the world's most enviable couples — needs space from each other. This space will help not only the business but also the relationship.

Related: A Blind Date Led to Marriage -- and the Acquisition of an Almond Butter Company That's Now Worth Millions

Imran Tariq

CEO Of Webmetrix Group

Imran Tariq is the co-founder and CEO of Webmetrix Group, a digital marketing and reputation-management company. He is an author and voice on CNN and CNBC. Tariq also works with seven-figure companies and helps them drive traffic to become market leaders.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

This 61-Year-Old Grandma Who Made $35,000 in the Medical Field Now Earns 7 Figures in Retirement
A 'Quiet Promotion' Will Cost You a Lot — Use This Expert's 4-Step Strategy to Avoid It
3 Red Flags on Your LinkedIn Profile That Scare Clients Away
'Everyone Is Freaking Out.' What's Going On With Silicon Valley Bank? Federal Government Takes Control.

How to Detect a Liar in Seconds Using Nonverbal Communication

There are many ways to understand if someone is not honest with you. The following signs do not even require words and are all nonverbal queues.


The Odds Are Still Stacked Against Women in Business. Here's How Young Women Can Defy Them.

As a woman running a seven-figure fintech consultancy, my success hasn't come without its fair share of challenges. Here are some key strategies to jump over the obstacles women face in the corporate world.

Business News

'Things Will Go Wrong.' Google Releases Its Chatbot Bard With Caution.

The AI-powered search tool went live today to a limited number of users in the U.S. and the U.K.