No matter how much you love your spouse, there are many reasons that working together is not a good idea. There’s no one who can better explain the reasons than an employee at a company owned by a husband and wife team! All the good intentions in the world cannot prevent the stress that occurs when a husband and wife work together, most of which gets transferred along to the rest of the company. Owning and operating a company should never be about personal relations. With a spouse on board, it is simply unavoidable that the personal and professional will mix, and when things go badly, a new dimension of tension gets added to the fray. The best way to support a spouse is to do it from the sidelines.
Among several problems that arise when a husband and wife work together is: Who’s in command? Even when one spouse is clearly the boss, and the other the worker, simply from the nature of the relationship, this can never be a traditional work relationship. The spouse/employee always has a privileged access to the boss and a superior status to the other workers, who can never work around that relationship. If the employee spouse says something contrary to the boss spouse, workers are unsure whom to follow. Who really has power? In fact, both do, even when one spouse is the boss, and the other is not.
When two spouses work together and have conflicts, the personal invades the workspace. Nothing is worse for the workplace environment than two feuding spouses. It’s the equivalent of “mom and dad are fighting,” as one worker expressed it. The couple are stressed out, and the rest of the company’s employees are forced to walk on egg shells until the conflict is resolved. When things are finally smoothed over, the company employees may not even realize it.
Day-to-day workplace gossip reaches new heights when a couple runs a business. Every personal tidbit becomes fodder for the gossip mill. Employees don’t know how to approach the couple in a comfortable way. Each spouse must decide how much or how little to share that their own spouse may not want the employees to know. Revealed information cannot be taken back, and secrets revealed may lead to additional conflict.
On the other side are special privileges given to the working spouse, which can cause bad feelings among the workers. Preferred treatment for the working spouse can lead to a two-tiered system, despite the best intentions. Where other bosses may even be more lenient, sometimes the spouse boss cannot give in for fear of the appearance of unfairness. Worse still is the boss who lets the working spouse do whatever they want, causing unhappiness and jealousy by the other employees. It’s nearly impossible to strike the right balance for the couple and the business.
As individuals, we each have a work self and a personal self. When those two personas come together in the workplace, it is hard for each spouse to be their own best worker and loving spouse at the same time. Workplace business gets transferred home, and vice versa. Keeping relationships separate from the work environment is better for your marriage and for the employees of your copany as well.