What it’s like to be married to the boss

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Imagine that, after a long day of work, you’re looking forward to a relaxing evening. You get home, put on your sweats, kick up your feet and turn on the TV. But just as you’re starting to unwind, your boss walks out of your kitchen and asks you what’s for dinner.

Sounds like some sort of backwards nightmare? For a lot of people, it would be; but if you happen to be married to your boss, then it’s just a typical evening.

Naturally, working with your spouse isn’t without its challenges, but there are benefits, too. To find out about each, we talked to several people who make their marriages work, both at home and in the office.

The benefits

1. “I work for/with my husband. When we land a new client or when something spectacular happens, we get to share that together, which is very cool. He also understands when I am sick or not feeling well, so calling in sick is no longer a worry. Plus, he allows me to be far more creative in my particular field than most other bosses would be. I also believe most times he does listen to my new ideas, and allows me to expand my knowledge base as an employee and a person for the betterment of the company.” — Michael Ann Rosa, search engine specialist, Rosart Multimedia, Inc., a website design and development company

2. “The most enjoyable part of working with my spouse is spending time together problem solving and being creative. It feels like you understand their thought process on a deeper level and builds a firm foundation of appreciation and respect.” – Daniela Hart, who works with (not for, as she isn’t afraid to remind him) her husband at their tie company, David Hart &Co.

3. “My wife and I are business partners, but she does have final say, as this business is in her field of expertise. The way we handle the situation is the way any functional business does — assigning roles and taking full responsibility for them. We come together all the time to debate and discuss various strategies and ideas, but we are both fully aware of who is responsible for what, and we trust each other to execute to the best of our abilities.” — Michael Coxen, who works with his wife at Paper and Home, a Las Vegas-based stationery company

4. “A lot of marriages end because people stop communicating.  We will have been married for 17 years on August 6, and have not grown apart. We have a vested interest in getting along because we have three kids and two joint ventures.” — Kelly Spradley, co-founder (with her husband) of Vignature, an image-based electronic signature company in Texas

5. “Working alongside my husband [at our company] is great because we’re always on the same page.  We have the same priorities and we want the same things in life, but at the same time we bring different strengths to our company. [My husband] is very pragmatic and I’m more of an ideas person (‘What if we….?’).  We both code and design our website ourselves, so we’re a total team. He does the backend coding that gives the site its functionality, and I design it and handle all the aesthetic and usability components. It’s nice to look at it and know that we both built it. I take it for granted, but it’s also nice to be on the same schedule — if one of us is working late, odds are the other is too.” – Amy Dannwolf, who works with her husband at Powder7 .com, a leading online ski shop

6. “All of the advantages outweigh all the minor things. Since I work for [my husband’s] company, I can make my own schedule, which comes in handy when I have to take my mother and grandmother to run their errands. We have a small son who is about to start school and by having a flex schedule I can drop him off, pick him up and take him to the office if I need to. I never have to call and explain to my boss why I am running late.” – Karen Guzman-Coppock, who assists her husband at Owner Finance Buyers, a real estate financing company in Texas

The challenges

1. “Sometimes my boss is a real jerk. I do not get to go home and vent about a bad day at work, which can feel very isolating. Or, we strongly disagree and it can be hard to leave that stress at work, and it can bleed over at home.” – Rosa

2. “Business can be all-consuming.  It doesn’t end when we leave the office. We have been known to talk about strategy in the bedroom, at dinner (with the kids), on dates and on vacations.” – Spradley

3. “We leave the office and go home, but the work never completely stops. We’ll check email until we fall asleep and as soon as we’re up in the morning. If we disagree over something we’re more likely to take that home with us than bring a disagreement from home to work. Most of our dinner time conversations are about work and what we can do better; the gears are always turning.” – Dannwolf

4. “My husband and I have worked together on and off throughout our marriage. I was 19 when I started working for a company that he was working at (we were already together). The main problem was that, when I was eventually moved into a management position, the other employees always felt that it was due to the fact that I was dating my husband. It really caused the employees that I managed to be mad at me and not have as much respect for me. Now that my husband has started his own business [and I work for him], it is hard because I always want to give my feedback and I don’t always agree with his or his partner’s ideas.” – Coppock

5. “Finding a balance between your professional and personal life can be difficult. It can be challenging to go on a date and not talk shop. Sometimes we drop everything we are doing and head to Coney Island to ride the Cyclone roller coaster. It’s hard to talk about anything when you are screaming your head off!” – Hart

The final word

1. “It’s definitely not for everyone, we’ve seen a lot of couples try it and few have succeeded. At the end of the day, you’re still married and ultimately that has to be viewed as the most important thing. Too often marriages crumble due to business stresses. You have to separate the two.” – Dannwolf

2. “Remember that you work ‘with’ and not ‘for’ your spouse. Treat each other with the utmost kindness and respect. But, if it’s just not working out be honest about it. Better to switch careers than switch spouses!”  – Hart

3. “Just like everything there are advantages as well as disadvantages. For me personally, there are more advantages … I love working with my husband. Yes, he might be a pain in the butt every once in a while but by working together we get more things accomplished. Overall it just fits our lifestyle.”– Coppock

4. “Open and honest communication is what makes our business, and our marriage, possible. I wouldn’t change this situation for anything because the communication we have simply can’t exist in the corporate world.”  – Coxen

Would you ever consider working with your spouse? Let us know in the comments section.

6 Comments
  1. I worked with my husband for 12 years and I loved it. He was the boss, but we had so much fun travelling and expanding the business. I was a much needed support in a family business where there was little respect. He was an amazing President, had great relationships with his employees and customers. I was sorry to see it end when he sold the business for financial reasons. I loved him and admired him for all of his talents and ethics. I’ve never had such a talented, brilliant person again as a boss.

  2. I can imagine how things at work can get stressful if the two of you are having personal problems at home, but I suppose this is part of the challenge: separating professional life from personal problems.

  3. I was my husbands office manager for 20 years. It worked out very well. We were so professional at the office that we had new employees work there for weeks before they found out we were married!
    I have a question now, though. My husband retired, and I still want to work. On my resume, how should I write about my experience? That I managed my husbands office? or that I was a part owner? Or, should I just present it as though I was an employee like any other. I don’t want to seem to be showing off, or put my future employer off, but I need to show my experience. Any ideas?

  4. It will be difficult to get over your love for your boss if you see him every day. Usually office loves are only crushes or extreme emotions because you work with him shoulder to shoulder.

  5. I have a great tip that I learned afterI was forced intoworking for my husband as his office manager. I went by my maiden name to vendors, patients, etc. You get far more respect especially from the vendors!
    It worked for me for 39 years!

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