Couples who work together at cafés, boutiques, small or big shops, or even in boardrooms act like a well-oiled machine. They don’t seem to be talking too much, both are usually doing different activities but they seem to be running the whole show.
Entrepreneurial couples might be running a social foundation together or they could be running one of the thousands of startups that we see cropping up across the nation. Couples who work together face unique challenges but they iron out the creases and keep moving ahead.
What Percentage Of Married Couples Work Together?
Many corporate organisations have rules against married couples working in the same organisation but newspaper offices, websites, schools, NGOs, IT firms employ married couples. These organisations believe that employing couples could increase productivity and bring positivity to the workplace.
A study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, that explored how work-related support between spouses affects work-family balance, family satisfaction, and job satisfaction, whether or not couples are work-linked.
The researchers, from Utah State University, Baylor University, and other schools, defined this type of support as having a spouse who understands the nuances of one’s job; is familiar with one’s work colleagues; is equipped to help solve work-related problems; and is able to see one’s spouse at some point during the workday.
They also explored how the effects of this work-related support differed between couples who are work-linked and those who are not.
The researchers recruited 639 men and women, around one-fifth of whom had the same occupation as their spouse, worked at the same organization, or both. Not surprisingly, work-related support from spouses contributed to work-family balance and was linked to higher family satisfaction and job satisfaction.
However, these benefits were twice as great for couples who shared the same occupation or workplace than for those who did not. Work-related support also had a more beneficial effect on perceived relationship tension among work-linked spouses, compared to non-work-linked couples.
Rihanaa Ray a journalist employed with an esteemed newspaper said, “We have 8 couples working in our organisations. For most the romance started here and then they tied the knot. We all work in different departments but hang out for coffee and at lunch. I am one of those couples and our personal relationship has no impact on our professional relationship.”
5 Must-Follow Tips For Couples Who Work Together
Despite all the positives we also see people advising against couples working together. The main argument is that the familiarity breeds contempt in a relationship. The work starts to take precedence over the relationship and it is harmful in the long run. Also, you tend to take work conflicts and conversations home.
There isn’t a clear winner when it comes to this debate though, and more and more couples are taking on work together. There are no doubts that couples who work together face challenges but they can turn things in their favour if they follow these 5 tips.
1. Use the extra time you get together
On an average, if you take a regular 8 hours of work every day, people spend about one-third of their lives at work. If you run your own business, this time is going to be much more. If you and your partner work together, however, you don’t miss out that one third.
You may not work the same hours or do the same tasks in the office, but working together provides you with a lot of extra time together that most couples don’t get. So use that time to go out for lunch together, hang out with colleagues or after work you can hit the bar to unwind together.
2. Conquer the careers goals together
Like Claire and Francis Underwood in House of Cards (the off-camera criminal behaviour aside), if you and your partner want to conquer something together, working together might just be the best idea for you two. Couples tend to lose sight of each other’s career goals, or often don’t understand each other’s career goals when they are so far removed from each other’s careers.
Working together makes this lack of knowledge disappear. You both know what you want your company or the company that you work for to do, and where you want it to reach. This helps you in avoiding a lot of unnecessary conflict at home.
Suzy and Kevin are IT professionals who worked in the same company. “We looked for job opportunities abroad and got placements in the same company and moved together. We have actually pursued our career goals together as a couple.”
Related Reading: Should Couples Have Goals? Yes, Couple Goals Could Really Help
3. Be a couple on a mission
For couples who are on a social mission together, and are trying to run an NGO or an organisation of that sort together, working together is a given.
Their passion for a certain cause and their want for change makes them work together to get things done. Take for example Padma Shri winners Dr Rani Bang and her husband Dr Abhay Bang. The Bangs’ work in public health in the Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra has reduced the infant mortality rates in the area.
They have been working together in the field for decades and those who’ve observed them at work have said that they’re possessed by their mission, they work as a unit and you can’t say who did more, because when it comes to work, their contributions are as a unit.
4. Make your work your legacy
Many couples who have built businesses together talk about how they felt parental towards the business. For them, if they already had kids, the business was one of the children. Some didn’t have kids but felt fulfilled by the business.
For these couples, the efforts that they put in building an empire, the care with which they curate every aspect of it, and the way they felt protective about it’s present and future match the feelings of being a parent.
Humans reproduce not just for the species’ survival, but also the survival of their legacy. For these couples, the business, or the work, the research, the movement is going to be their legacy, and thus they work at it and attach as much importance to it as they would to bringing up a child. Couples working together and living together take immense proud in the legacy they would leave behind.
Joan and Dave started their own restaurant which is a restaurant chain across continents now. “We travel the world to handle business and we are immensely proud of what we have created. Actually it’s our work that defines us now,” says Joan.
5. Be an ally at the workplace
The workplace is an odd construct if you look it sociologically. It’s a group of people who spend almost one third of their lives together, to make money, to find purpose, to crunch numbers, to make a living. Who, in most cases, don’t really know each other for any other reason but because they find themselves getting their pay cheques from the same place.
However, because group dynamics and peer behaviour work in different ways, we also find a sense of hostility and competition in the workplace. For couples, having each other running a business means that they instantly have a natural partner at work.
Someone who knows their behaviour better than anyone in the office. Someone who will not only work with them more intuitively but who will understand their style without having to go through the ‘getting to know each other’ period.
Couples who work together face unique challenges. Sometimes being together 24X7 can lead to tensions at home. Humans aren’t particularly good at compartmentalising their life and work does spill into private life most of the time.