By Terilee Harrison
In the beginning, I thought it was going to be a breeze when my husband, Terry, joined me working full-time in my business. If anyone could do it, we could! We already had a healthy relationship built on trust and respect. We communicated well. We both strongly believed in what we were doing. We understood the need to help each other with the children, keeping the house, and with the business. We planned to allow for fluctuations in income to keep stresses over money to a minimum. Yet I still wasn’t prepared.
For anyone considering working with your spouse, here are 3 Essential Boundaries for Entrepreneurial Couples to help to ease your transition:
1. Clarify expectations for work/home.
Nothing can prepare you for the blurring of boundaries and turf that occur as you transition into working together. When you join together with your spouse, most likely, both of you have experienced success throughout your careers, and have developed your own working style. Suddenly you have a whole new dynamic in your relationship with your spouse you must learn to work through. I always knew that we had different gifts and talents: Terry is very techie and he loves to write, and I am a people person who is an administrative whiz. Even though I should have probably seen it coming, I was still surprised at the difference in our work styles. I multi-task all day long, and he prefers to work on one project at a time. Just like being newlyweds all over again, we had to put some effort into getting to know each other on a whole new level to be able to work well together.
Beth Butler, creator of the Boca Beth Program has some helpful tips for clarifying expectations with your spouse. “I make us lunch each day and we try to talk about BOCA BETH items that are pressing. It's our time to reconnect - he works from home for the wine company he represents and I work from home sharing my passion for second language learning with young children. A funny mix, but it works! We talk about what each of us has planned the next day so there are no surprises - and I use that time to ask for his help. I can't expect him to guess what I need so I have learned to be very specific.”
2. Schedule time for love.
Most entrepreneurial couples complain they have less time together than before. It is possible to work beside your spouse in the same office all day long and barely speak on a personal level. How difficult is it to turn off your cell phone and talk a walk with your love? It is imperative to make it a point to schedule time for your relationship so that the business does not overtake it. Terry and I plan ahead to sneak away for lunch or to take a break at Starbucks. We have found if we don’t take the time to schedule in these lunch or coffee dates, then they are less likely to happen as we work to meet deadlines or get a project done. We haven’t yet been able to master scheduling “regular dates”, but its next on our list of priorities in order to help keep our close relationship.
3. Schedule time for yourself.
It can be a shock when you suddenly have so much time with your spouse. In your previous life, they left at 7 AM and came home at 6 PM, and then you discussed your day during dinner. Now you spend most (if not all) of the day with them, and during dinner, there is nothing new to discuss. Where is the time for you? Karyn Fagan, Founder of Team Women, tells “We both have hobbies that we love outside of the house so we have that important away time.”
Terry and I certainly have a long way to go as an Entrepreneurial Couple, but we have made it through our entrepreneurial “honeymoon” period. Each day, we work together to reach our goals and dreams. We understand when we help each other we will reach our dreams sooner, so we help each wherever its needed!
Article by:Terilee Harrison, The Business Mom, is Mom to Jackie (12) and Cole (4). The Business Mom is helping mom entrepreneurs to “get a life” as they juggle running their business and raising their family. For free articles and to learn how you can contribute to Terilee’s upcoming book, The Business Mom Guide Book: More Life, Less Overwhelm for Mom Entrepreneurs (Wyatt-MacKenzie, Sept. 2006), please visit www.thebusinessmom.com