Married to your business partner? 5 ways to manage your work/life balance


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The growing number of successful startups founded by married couples shows you that your business can thrive when you work with your other half. Just look at the success of EventBrite, SlideShare, and Clif Bar & Company.

Nevertheless, if you’re looking to follow the trend, then managing your work/life balance is the key to creating success in your relationship and business.

  • Define your business roles
  • Set strict home & work boundaries
  • Have honest ‘What if?’ discussions
  • Use integrity to nourish relationships
  • Communicate and evolve

Define your business roles

If you’re planning a startup with someone you’re in a serious relationship with, then the issue of workplace hierarchy is something to think about.

The capacity for a power imbalance to cause tension between spouses is highlighted by Meg Cadoux Hirshberg in For Better or For Work. Hirshberg worked alongside her husband when he was CEO of Stonyfield Farm yogurt.

She states: ‘Theoretically, you’re in a marriage of equals. But in the workplace, generally, one person is in charge. Even if you don’t report to your spouse, you are still under them. This lopsided relationship can cause tension.’

Since every personal relationship is unique, it’s vital to analyse your dynamics in and out of the workplace and discuss any challenges.

From one perspective, a strong marriage or relationship may create a natural workplace dynamic that can be seamlessly transferred into your business. But in many cases, things aren’t so simple. Maybe your partner is the more active force in your romantic relationship, but needs to play a more supporting role at work:

  • Define your roles
  • Analyse tension
  • Ensure you’re comfortable with the dynamics
  • Keep communicating

Set strict home and work boundaries

Building a business can feel like a 24/7 occupation and requires dedication from all involved.

Without this drive, success is hard to achieve for startups.

But failing to switch off can lead to personal stress, a lack of intimacy with our partners, poor sleep and apathy.

This creates a damaging negative loop.

This is illustrated in the recent Stress Epidemic Report by Wrike which analysed 1,600 professionals in the UK and US. The data reported that 53% of employees lost sleep due to stress, with 54% saying that it affected their personal lives on a weekly basis.

Setting strict work and home boundaries is the key – but it’s not always easy. If work is necessary from home, it can be useful to avoid direct work communication and opt for email and messaging platforms.

  • No business talk during dates and romantic time
  • No stressful and negative business talk outside office hours
  • No face-to-face work discussions with your loved one (use email/messaging platforms for work, face-to-face for personal)

Regardless of your decision on working during leisure time, it’s clear that switching off, relaxing, and sleeping well are very important when it comes to your chances of business success and a healthy relationship with your husband, wife, or partner.

Have an honest ‘What if?’ discussions

If you’re engaged, married, or in a long-term relationship with your current or prospective business partner, then you’re innately striving for a long life together, both at work and romantically. However, considering the impact of ‘What if?’ scenarios is something that can help your business get through tricky situations:

  • What if the business fails?
  • Do you need legal papers to protect you both financially?
  • Impact of pregnancy and family planning?
  • What if a partner wants to exit the business?

While these issues may seem negative, discussing them before you get into a business will have a positive impact by adding to your sense of honesty, communication, and togetherness.

If you are looking to get your company license in the UAE, free zone, or mainland, or even in Qatar and Saudi Arabia –  then our team can help.

Use integrity to nourish relationships

By cultivating professionalism with your spouse or partner at work, you’ll help to create clear boundaries between your business and social life. Over time, this approach can help to create an effective switch in your relationship, maintaining integrity depending on the time and place.

This typically means using your natural professional approach at work, before switching to a soft and tender you at home:

  • Create a different home and work relationship
  • Maintain integrity at work and home
  • Set goals to aim for together
  • Make time for dates and rewards

While it can be uncomfortable to get used to new interpersonal dynamics – such as your soft and tactile partner treating you with grounded professionalism in a work context, this can work well if handled correctly.

Switching dynamics helps to create space, and makes you look forward to your partner’s attention and romantic dates.

Similarly, setting short and long-term goals that you can both aim for, and rewarding yourself with a special dinner, spa, or holiday, is a great way to maintain your bond and gain the motivation to make it all work.

Communicate and evolve

Effective communication is vital in any relationship. But if you enjoy a dual romantic-business union, the benefits of talking transparently are compounded. Talking and evolving together boosts the chances of long-term business and romantic success, so creating a structure to your dialogue and encouraging personal development will support your goals:

  • Weekly reviews of business and home life
  • Use private one-to-one reviews
  • Consider mediated discussions
  • Take joint courses to deepen business & romantic bonds

Invariably, couples who succeed together at home and at work say that love is at the core of their drive and success.

They love each other, they love their business, and they create life goals that they drive to achieve together. But like all good things, dual work-love relationships take effort to cultivate and sustain –meaning it’s vital to manage your work/life balance properly to ensure long-term success.

We are the team of Set Hub, your best business setup advisor across the Gulf Region. If you are looking to open your company in Dubai, across the UAE, in KSA or Qatar, get a free zone license, or start a business in the mainland, then we can help. From visa applications to all the necessary admin tasks, we handle it all – leaving you free to get on with your business.