When you’re married, you’re constantly working together. You work together to pay the rent, to get through marital problems, and to survive the work week. You’re life partners, and in some special cases (like ours), you’re business partners.
I married a man that dreams as big as I do. We view our world rather romantically, so even routine tasks play a role in the bigger story, our grand adventure. We are convinced that we can have a big impact on the world, so starting something together was only a matter of time.
Z and I have been working together since we met. We have similar degrees and complimentary skill sets. Although I don’t have an Ivy League Graduate Degree like he does, I still like to think that I’m as smart as he is.
Intelligence aside, we have an idea. Only time will tell if it is a good one or a bad one. I’ve heard that in the game of entrepreneurship you have to fail a few times before you have success. I totally believe it, so if we have to make some huge mistakes to learn, I’ll have to learn how to fail gracefully… which isn’t exactly a strength of mine. Especially since I always had issues with commitment. When things weren’t going the way I wanted them to go, I would bail. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that if quitting is an option, commitment never can be. And I didn’t want to live my life that way.
I wish I could tell you that starting a business nine months into your marriage is a good idea. For now, your guess is as good as mine. I figure that if we work well together in marriage that we will work well together in business. Maybe it’s a rookie mistake, but I’m committed to finding out.
Even though I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out, I have learned a few things worth sharing. Here are the pros and cons for married couples working together from home.
The Pros of Working Together from Home
You spend a lot of time together. For those of us who are quality time people, this has to be the first pro on the list. Working closely with my favorite person on the planet every day is spectacular. Even if we’re sitting in silence on our computers for hours at a time, knowing he’s sitting next to me adds a level of joy to my day that couldn’t be achieved in other ways.
You have a sounding board. Z and I benefit from processing complicated issues out loud. Explaining an issue to another person has a way of bringing clarity to the situation. Plus, there are always things that he sees that I can’t, and vice versa. When you work from home, you don’t always have a sounding board because you’re likely riding solo on most of your projects. So if your spouse is there with you, it’s a huge benefit when things at work get complicated.
Sex breaks. Come on, don’t be too surprised. When I asked Z for his opinion on this topic, this was one of the first pros he listed. Normally employees take several breaks throughout their workday to regroup and refocus on the task list at hand. But what you probably didn’t know is that this can be a great time to connect with your partner and clear your mind. After all, sex benefits your brain in plenty of ways. A midday sack session might be exactly what you needed to tackle that afternoon project head on.
The Cons of Working Together from Home
You spend a lot of time together. Yes, I’m aware this was my first pro, but at times, it can be a big con. You can, indeed, have too much of a good thing, and this doesn’t exclude time with your partner. When you spend too much time with someone, it’s much easier for them to get under your skin. Small issues can be magnified if you’ve been together for so many hours. So remember that during times like these, a break is in order. Whenever we run into this issue (and we do), we work from separate locations that day… or that week.
We interrupt each other. A lot. You know what it’s like to be in the zone. You’re knocking tasks off your list left and right, and nothing can stop you. But if you’ve ever worked in an office or at home with your spouse, then you’ve been interrupted while you’re in your zone. A zone you may not be able to re-enter easily. And due to the comfort level between you and your spouse, those interruptions could come more often. We interrupt each other enough to know that it should be kept to a minimum, so now we try to consider each comment and question carefully before sharing.
Personal problems can take up work time. Arguments, stresses, and various other life issues are much harder to put to rest whenever you’re sitting across the room from each other. It’s difficult enough to focus on work whenever you’re having problems at home, but when your partner is in the same building, it’s way harder. As impossible as it sounds, sometimes you have to learn to ignore the issues until your next break or put them to rest until the end of your workday. This is a skill we still haven’t mastered, but our productivity will definitely improve once we do.
**Update July 2016: Since this article was written in January of 2014, Z and I have started multiple businesses that didn’t work out as planned. I knew what we were signing up for when I originally wrote this, and we still haven’t given up the fight. We have a deep respect for the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, and we’re trusting the process even as we currently proceed on separate projects. This list has been updated accordingly.