Working with your Spouse

9 Tips to Successfully Working With Your Spouse Part I

Chezaray and I have known each other for 30+ years and have been working together for all but the first 4 years of our relationship. We hear this phrase all the time…” I could NEVER work with my spouse!”

The truth is, even the happiest of couples do not always agree on everything, which can be particularly true when it comes to working with your spouse.

How you handle running a business with your spouse can determine whether it is a wonderful way to make your marriage stronger or a fast track to divorce.

The following tips can help create a more harmonious working relationship with your spouse—and may even help create a stronger marriage, too.


In the beginning, one of the problems Chezaray and I faced was that, outside of the photography, we found ourselves doing the same things.

Being more than just a tad competitive, we would catch ourselves climbing all over each other to be “better,” or “right.”

We soon realized that we had, and have, complementary strengths. He better tolerates finances; I am not a fan. I love customer service and I am a more natural, ‘Chatty Cathy’ on the phone.

So, we quit competing and started respecting each other’s strengths.

Treat your spouse as you would any other co-worker. This saves a lot of unnecessary fighting and tension once you get home, according to certified financial coach Christine Luken

Luken says, “Respect your spouse’s authority in their area of expertise and do not correct or argue with your spouse in front of others in the workplace,” Luken said. “It makes everyone uncomfortable and follows you home as an argument or fight.”


It is true that opposites attract. Use this to your advantage! Deciding roles and delegating responsibilities based on your individual abilities and interests ensures you are complementing each other’s talents and bridging any potential gaps.

For example, Chezaray and I both work on our website, but I leave most of the technical setup him since he is more skilled in that area. I focus more on content creation because that is where I thrive.

Understand and Leverage Each Other’s Strengths and Weaknesses

One advantage of starting a business with your spouse or partner is how well you know each. Being in a relationship is vastly different than being business partners, and you should be prepared for new strengths and weaknesses to emerge.

This should be an ongoing conversation.

Talk candidly about each of your strengths and weaknesses in an open and compassionate way, so that you can strategize and divide work accordingly.

Appreciate Your Partner’s Business Style

A contributing factor to creating conflict can be the difference in how partners make business decisions.

One may be more guided by facts rather than by the emotional components that often need to be factored into family-owned business decisions.

One of you may be good at problem-solving. The other may be less likely to compromise or concede to different solutions.

Despite your disagreement, take the extra step to listen and understand your partner’s viewpoint and concerns.


In your personal lives, you may have a very casual division of labor (one makes dinner and the other helps with homework), but it is critical that you do not let that stretch into your business life.

Having specific roles and responsibilities is key and you must ensure your team members know who the ultimate decision-maker is to keep productivity flowing.

Division of labor

As owners and spouses, you must be steadfast when you divide the duties and then hold each other accountable.

Working so closely you may easily step on each other’s toes.

To avoid this, make sure it is clear what each person’s responsibilities are, and make sure you don’t overlap each other.

If you both do the same work, you can accomplish a similar system by assigning specific tasks or clients to each person.

Chezaray and I set up two divisions of our company — I handle the customer service and marketing while he oversees the parameters of the actual photography and he handles the bookkeeping.

We come together and collaborate on the creative and logistical aspects of client concepts.

It is a wonderful system that gives each of us our own domain and yet keeps us working together.

Stop Hovering

Look, no one likes a nag.

If you trust your partner enough to go into business together, then you should trust that he or she will get the job done.

Constantly asking for updates, giving advice, and second-guessing will only cause resentment and slow your progress.

Assigning specific roles within your business will allow each person to ‘own’ their duties. Each person has a responsibility, and you stop duplicating efforts.

The key is to know your role and stick with it. You have a business to run, and it takes 100% attention from each person on their responsibilities to make it successful.

Leave the second-guessing and nagging to amateurs.


Sometimes when couples work too closely, they find it difficult to maintain a sense of identity and individuality.

I recently read about a couple that works together and one of the ways they maintain their individuality is by driving to work separately.

This gives each of them time alone and some separation from the other. Make sure you get enough alone time, even if it is just to be alone with your thoughts.

Everyone needs a little space.

It can be tough working out of your spare bedroom or your living room as we once did.

Our living room was large enough to accommodate Chezaray’s photo studio, which meant home life and work life merged as one, 24/7.

Thank goodness, that has changed. Today, we have free standing studio and separate home offices, which means we have a little space from each other.

Now when we are working from home, instead of walking into the other room to talk about a project or communicate about a client, we e-mail each other.

This helps maintain that feeling of autonomy, minimizes communication breakdowns and confusion, and gives us a paper trail that we use to track projects.

And for those of you who work exclusively from home, get out of the house sometimes!

Find a place that offers Wi-Fi and space to lay out your things.

My favorite coffee shop is perfect for this little getaway and it gives me a break from the daily routine.

When I am done with work, I will call Chezaray and we’ll make it a mid-week date night with a nice dinner at one of our favorite spots.

People ask how we can stand to be together all day and still live together. The answer is simple: ‘Allow space.’


In Part II of this series, I’ll be talking about 5 essential ways to handle a successful working relationship with your spouse.

When working with your spouse, remember that your professional success is tied to the same principles of personal success: You need to be true partners in order to thrive and prosper.

  • What are some of the ways you have built a stronger working relationship with your spouse?
  • What are some things you would have changed if you knew what you know now about working with your spouse?

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Cheers, Veronica B. 💕