5 Secrets to a Happy Marriage I've Learned from Working with My Spouse

Work-Life Balance on 02.14.12
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Photo: Laura and Scott St. John

Do you secretly shudder at the idea of working with your spouse? I've got news to share: Now is the perfect time to stop working for someone else, and start working for one another.

For over 15 years, I've worked with my husband helping start up our small family business and growing it nationally. Through our experiences of bonding professionally, following are the top five five secrets we've learned that we apply to a happy marriage

1. Don't Put Each Other Down

News flash: Picking each other apart is not going to help your relationship, or the bottom line of your business. Instead of getting in this disrespectful habit of sly remarks, be honest with yourselves and point out what you're good at. Remember, opposites attract! I love to market and sell, but I'm not a numbers person like my husband is. So early on, I handled all the phones while he handled all the back-office operations. When your business thrives as you focus on each other's strengths, you learn to focus on the positives at home, too. Added bonus: When you boost each other's ego, you become more attractive to your mate.

2. Play Fair

When you work together, you want to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Who wants their spouse to be an annoying nag? Instead, divide and conquer tasks together. Approach each other with, "What can I do for you to help get this done?" You'll both learn the power of giving versus receiving. This is one of my favorite parts of working together that has translated to our home life. Instead of fighting to help out around the house, I cook, then he cleans up. I tub the baby, and he helps the other two with their homework. I make a lot of garbage, and he takes it to the recycling center. (Gosh -- do I do enough?) You truly learn to play fair, knowing that you're always doing your best to contribute to goals at work, and at home.

3. Get Each Others' Backs

When you run a business with your spouse, you trust that you can rely on one another. When I really need someone to help fill my shoes because I've got a pounding migraine, it's nice to know I can count on my spouse. If he wants to go spend long weekend hours training to become a volunteer firefighter, then I'll take the kids. We don't owe each other anything, because we constantly cover for one another. This builds a sense of reliability and support for one another that brings relief to any marriage.

4. Stick Together Through Thick and Thin

When you set and attain professional goals together, it's natural that you align what you also are looking for personally in life. Everyone measures success differently, so it's good to find out what's important to one another. Plus, working for yourselves will not be all good times. Communicating ideas, figuring out what to do when you don't agree, and working through obstacles are keys to success. You learn to pull together through the rough times and enjoy celebrating achieved milestones together. Some say that my husband and I are really laid-back people, but I think we have been through enough ups, downs and curveballs in life before we even reached 30. We've stopped sweating the small stuff -- even through tough times, life always moves on. You might as well make it as easy as possible and support one another through those times.

5. Turn Work Time into Play Time

When you run a business together, it's important to love what you do, so that it's not a chore. My husband and I had a blast working with hundreds of kids before having our own! Now that we've grown our company nationally, we put countless hours of work in each week -- but at least we eat, sleep, and live it together. We disconnect, workout, and take the time to enjoy the backyard that Colorado has to offer. Work hard, play hard, and love what you do -- together.

Now seriously, stop ducking when I ask if you'd ever work with your husband or wife. It could be the best marriage decision you ever make.

Laura St. John
oversees the fast-growing network of entrepreneurs -- who get to work with kids, make a difference, and create a flexible work schedule -- by offering Discovery Kids Puterbugs technology classes in their local market. For more information, register here or checkout Laura's latest webinar.

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