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How Couples Can Be In Business Together Without Breaking Up

ann | 12/8/2016, midnight
Your mate is your best friend, so why not go into business together? Some say it’s a terrible idea for ...

Your mate is your best friend, so why not go into business together? Some say it’s a terrible idea for couples to work together; others say it’s a brilliant idea. But if you do become an entrepreneurial couple, there are things to do to avoid strife and stress in your relationship and business.

“When I told friends and co-workers that my wife and I were starting a business together, reactions ranged from ‘that is great’ to ‘I could never go into business with my spouse,’” says Juan Pena, who launched Happy Couples Academy with his wife, Stephanie Maria. “One friend even took me out to lunch and warned me against the folly of working with my wife. I left that lunch wondering if I was dooming my marriage by starting this business with my wife.”

But that didn’t stop Juan and Stephanie. And it shouldn’t stop you and your mate either. Here are a few tips on how to work peacefully and effectively with your business partner and spouse.

Tips on working with your spouse in business

--Be on the same page: Make sure you have the same vision for the company and agree on the way to get it there--and how this all fits into your vision for your relationship. “Create a shared vision about the meaning of your business. One of the important ways that marriage is different than other relationships is the level of commitment married couples show towards supporting each other’s individual and shared dreams. Working on a business together with your spouse should be about more than making money–although that is an important part of it as well,” notes Juan. “A business should be part of the larger vision and shared dreams you have as a couple. How does your business support that larger vision and shared dreams you have as a couple? How does your business help you to express yourselves and actualize your potential as individuals and a couple? How does it allow you to serve others and manifest your values as individuals and a couple? What is the biggest mistake couples make in business together?”

--Lean on your mate: “Turn towards your spouse; not against or away. The building blocks of all relationships, including marriage and business, are the social and emotional bids we make towards each other. A bid can include small talk, questions, comments, a look, a gesture, pretty much any form of communication we initiate towards our spouse can be considered a ‘bid’. There are three possible outcomes for each bid we make. First, our spouse can ‘turn towards’ the bid which includes some form of supportive,encouraging, or empathetic response. Second, our spouse can ‘turn away’ the bid which includes ignoring or not noticing the bid. Lastly, our spouse can ‘turn against’ the bid which includes a non-supportive, discouraging, or non-empathetic response (e.g. criticism, contempt),” says Juan.

--Work in gratitude: “Cultivate the habit of fondness and gratitude for your spouse. The way our brains evolve makes them like velcro when it comes to brooding about potential threats and like teflon for when it comes to noticing regular occurring positive actions,” shares Juan. “In other words, we often take each other for granted and stop noticing the positive things we do for each other. We do a much better job at noticing the negative things that happen...The good news is that gratitude is a habit of the mind that we can consciously cultivate. For example, practice acknowledging and expressing gratitude for all the things your spouse does--even if it is part of their chores or work responsibilities. Let them know how much you appreciate their making that phone call or what a good job you think they did at a meeting.”