5 Pros and Cons of Working with Your Spouse (Happy Valentine’s Day)

Valentine’s Day is for romance.  

Yet sometimes business mixes with pleasure.  That mix can create sparks or fizzle out an otherwise great relationship.  

To help you decide if working with your significant other is a good or not-so-good idea, here are key pros and cons to consider thanks to business executive and fan of Making a Living Maureen Page…   



Pros to working with your spouse:

  1. The right combination of people can make magic in business. – When the right two people work together for a common purpose, magic can happen. Think of Tony Randall and Jack Klugman, Simon and Garfunkel, or more recently, Charlie and Alan. I think this is even truer when it comes to couples going into business together. In a good marriage there is already mutual respect and understanding, solid trust, and effective communication between the two partners. This relationship basis combined with the right skills for the job can produce magic in the business world.
  2. You get to spend more time together. – Running a business together with your spouse can be a great way to spend more time with them. I know many couples who rarely get to see each other because by the time they finish work, commute home, and get the chores done they have little time and energy left over for each other. Working together is a different type of being together but for people who really enjoy their partner’s company it’s all good.
  3. You get to know your spouse better and learn to appreciate them more. – Working with your spouse allows you to see a whole other side of their personality. You will see them in a way most spouses don’t get to see. You will see your spouse at their worst and at their best. Not everyone gets to see their spouse using their work related talents and it can open your eyes to their merit outside of their service to the family.
  4. Allows flexibility to handle other responsibilities like children or aging parents. – This is one of the biggest advantages of running a business with your spouse, especially if you have children or other time consuming responsibilities. Having the flexibility with your time and energy to fit in other responsibilities during the work day can be a huge benefit to your quality of life. There a peace of mind in knowing that you have your spouse at work or at home to handle things when you need to be away.
  5. You can make lots of money. – Running a family owned business can make you a lot of money if it’s the right business for you.

Cons to Mixing Work and Family:

  1. The wrong combination of people can be a disaster in a business. – Sometimes working together can bring out the worst in each other especially if the two individuals are a lot alike. If you both have ‘type A’ temperaments, or are both stubborn for example this can wreck havoc when trying to run a business together. Some people are much better off keeping their working lives separate from their married life.
  2. You spend too much time together. – Spending lots of time together is not a good thing for all people. There are some people that do better in relationships when they have ample time apart doing their own thing. This way they are less likely to get bored or irritated with one another.
  3. Relationship can become too much like a business arrangement and not enough of a marriage. – There is obviously a different atmosphere in a business meeting than there is at a romantic dinner for two. Yet, for spouses who run a business together you need to be able to switch between both vibes easily and quickly. If the relationship becomes too focused on the business you can lose the closeness and intimacy needed to sustain the marriage.
  4. There is less diversity to handle setbacks. – If the business does not do well or is going through a slow period you don’t have the income of the other spouse to fall back on. All of your eggs are in one basket – win or lose. It’s important to develop other avenues to handle setbacks like a line of credit for example. Family businesses should have a bountiful rainy day fund for peace of mind.
  5. You can lose lots of money. – There is nothing like running your own business to suck the funds out of any nest egg. Let’s face it, starting a business is risky and expensive. Don’t start any business, with your spouse or otherwise, without first taking a candid look at reality. You must have a detailed plan. When your business plan involves both spouses then the relationship needs to be evaluated and planned for as well.

Running a business together is not for everyone. It can make or just as often, break a marriage. But for a couple who has complementing skills, a ton of energy, and excellent communication skills, running a business together can be incredibly rewarding financially and emotionally.  Thank you for this insightful post Maureen! (Find out more about Maureen’s organization.)  (Photo courtesy of Butterfly Sha.)

Share your own pros and cons for working with a spouse or family member.  Good idea or not-so-good from your experience?  

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