September 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
One size does not fit all when it comes to working with your spouse. One couple’s division of labor might be, “I do whatever she tells me to do,” while another couple shifts duties as circumstances dictate. Women tend to approach business challenges in a compromising manner, while men are problem solvers who want “just the facts, ma’am.” Azriela Jaffee, author of Permission to Prosper: What Working Wives Crave From Their Husbands and How to Get It, found that couples working together succeed much more often when one pitches in to help the other rather than when assuming equal roles. Whatever your style or arrangement, here are a few tips for making working with your spouse more rewarding:
1. Listen. A simple concept, it often requires a conscious effort to hear what your partner says. If you disagree, listen even harder, with an open mind, to your partner’s entire argument.
2. Treat your spouse as you would treat a friend. Also not rocket science, but we often cut our friends slack that we would never allow our spouses. Recognize your partner’s strengths and utilize them to aid the business.
3. Forget gender roles. Men can clean. Women can handle finances. Enough said.
4. Prepare for the competitiveness and for taking comments personally. Spouses tend to act more honestly with their partners, a double-edged sword in business if you do not disassociate your business persona from your personal one whenever possible.
5. Establish a separation between your business and home. Stop answering the phone at home at a designated hour. Allow no business talk at family dinners. Schedule occasional long weekends with no business discussions. Limit pillow talk to personal matters.
And perhaps the most important tip of all, which we all learned in kindergarten: Be nice. Any business, like any marriage, presents challenges and obstacles. Remember that you are on the same team, and tackle them together.
About the author: The mother of 10 children, Vera Muzzillo serves as CEO of Proforma, founded by her husband, Greg. Headquartered in Independence, Ohio, the company supplies promotional and print products through the combined efforts of Vera and Greg Muzzillo.