The Pros and Cons of Working With Your Significant Other

Career Advice / August 17, 2017

What’s it like to work with your significant other or spouse? What if you meet on the job and become involved? Should your boyfriend/girlfriend help you get a job where he/she works? What if your spouse is the boss?

There are plenty of pros as well as cons to consider. The outcome may depend on whether you’re working in the same department, on the same shift, or whether you’re in the same company and will see each other, but aren’t doing the same job. The same considerations also apply to owning or managing a hotel or restaurant together.

The Pros:

Some of the benefits of working together involve the combining of work life and home life. Work has become less of a place to go and more of the way of life for a lot of people. Work is part of who we are and is often defined by our goals and values. When you have a partner who has the same interests and is committed to moving in the same direction, it can help relieve stress and increase the quality of support you can give to each other.

Studies have shown that there is a lesser chance of burnout as well when you work with your significant other/spouse. You don’t need to try so hard to integrate your work and home life, and you have more energy and resources to invest in both areas.

You understand each other’s priorities. When one partner has to take time off or leave early for a family commitment, there is more flexibility. For example, if you own a restaurant together, one spouse may need to take time off to attend a child’s event and the other may stay later to compensate. In this situation, both partners have the same goals and are willing to share the responsibilities of the job.

You know the same people and the politics at work and can give each other more meaningful advice. When your partner has a bad experience with someone at work, you can be more sympathetic and offer more insight than if you didn’t know the players.

You can commute to work together, cutting your costs in half and you’ll have some company along the way. Depending on where you live and how far you travel to work, that can mean a big savings and give you each a break from driving every day.

You can celebrate all your successes together. When you work together every day, each success can be shared as though it were your own – especially when you own/run a hotel or restaurant together. You’re working toward the same goals and reaching them is a combined effort to reach those goals.

You get to spend more time together. In the craziness of working full-time along with all the other commitments in life, it can be hard to spend time together during the week and when you get home, you’re tired. You can use your lunch breaks and downtime to reconnect and relax a bit during the day.

The Cons:

Problems at home can spill over to work. Whether you’ve had a small disagreement or a major fight, the closer you work together the more your personal relationship may interfere with your work quality. Your co-workers may find it awkward to tiptoe around you or feel trapped in the middle of your conflict.

If one of you is the boss, is there a power struggle? It’s a good idea to define your areas of responsibility and play to each of your strengths. You are certainly going to disagree about things and there needs to be a clear line of authority in different areas of your restaurant or hotel management.

Will you bring work problems home? When you leave work, can you avoid constantly talking about it? Will you be able to just be husband and wife or you and your significant other? You need to carve out some downtime when you don’t discuss work to enjoy your home and children.

The financial risk can be significant when you work together at the same place. If the business fails, you’ll both be out of work. Also, during slow times, you may both have reduced hours and you need to plan by saving for a rainy day.

Taking criticism from your spouse or partner isn’t easy. If one of you is the boss, it can be more difficult than taking feedback from someone you don’t have a personal connection with. Your significant other knows your weaknesses and can really deliver a blow that hurts. It’s important to keep it professional.

Competing with your significant other may be a bone of contention when you both want the same job or promotion. It can be awkward and create hurt feelings if your relationship isn’t strong enough to withstand that type of pressure. It may mean deciding ahead of time who should apply for the “dream job” and not create competition for the same position.

Breaking up or getting divorced is another danger zone. Will you be able to continue to work together or will it be too painful? Who should make the move to another job? The dynamics of your work relationships will change and if your spouse is the boss, it could be unworkable. A break-up is a very real concern when you work together and have the same friends and associates.