How To Make Working With Your Spouse Work

Nov 26, 2013, Written by Sue Miley

We have a combined practice in my office.  We are coaches and counselors.  Sometimes it is funny.  A client will walk in and say “Can we go sit in the counseling room today?”

Or a counseling client may ask “Can I get some business advice today?”

We see both sides of business….the work and the personal.

As much as you may want to keep your work separate from your home life, as a small business owner, there are no hard lines.  It’s like watercolors.  The colors bleed together and a new creation is formed.

God wants marriage to be that way.  You know, the two become one, thing.

So if you are one with your spouse, how can they not be involved in your work.  Especially since you are an entrepreneur and we all know that being a small business owner takes our all.  If we are living our work then our spouse is in it with us.

Although I do believe it is hard to work with your spouse, (my husband calls himself the Chairman of the Board) it can work.

There is one suggestion I have that can help immensely.

Establish the roles clearly.

Formalize Both Positions For The Whole Company

The range of involvement of a spouse in your business can be everything from support and encouragement in between carpool and dance to a husband or wife being the chief financial officer or business manager, and an infinite variety of options in between.

But remember, you are running a business.  There is every reason to add structure to the roles and responsibilities in a business, so why wouldn’t married people do the same.

  • Who is going to do what?  I recommend specific titles, hours, and a job description.  This will clear up so much, not only for you, but also for your employees.  It is only fair for them to know what to expect.
  • Who reports to which spouse?  In these roles it is also important to state who the employees report to officially.  I always hear comments from employees….”It’s the owner’s wife (or husband), what was I supposed to do.”  It is stressful for everyone involved.
  • What do we expect from our spouse on the job and what do they expect from us?  We all have expectations of others, and when it is our spouse, those expectations morph into a different measuring stick.  I want to know in advance what my husband expects rather than wondering what he thinks all of the time.  That just creates additional communication problems in a marriage.

Don’t Take Your Spouse For Granted At Work

It is common for people to take out their work frustration on family even when they don’t work in the business.  We just take for granted that those at home who love us can absorb some of our stress.

It doesn’t make sense though because they are the ones we love most.

Think about how you treat your employees.  Hopefully, you are a strong manager, effective communicator, and of good cheer.  At a minimum, can you treat your spouse who you work with as well as you treat the other employees?

God tells us that our marriage is our most important relationship outside of our relationship with him.

Working with your spouse can work.  You just may need to apply God’s plan for our marriages to work and treat your spouse like the most important and valuable team member you have!

Start with establishing those clear roles! See how that works and let us know.

If you work with your spouse, what are other suggestions that work for you?

Reader Interactions


  1. Chery Gegelman says

    Great post Sue! Having worked in small business for many years before becoming an Entrepreneur I appreciate how important it is for employees to know the roles of each employing spouse. I also appreciate your emphasis the priority of marriage and the gentle reminder of reflecting who we serve.

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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