The Downside to Working With Your Spouse

If you’re new here, you need the basic knowledge that I work with/for my husband. He started a company 7+ years ago and I started full-time about 2.5 years ago.

And now you’re all caught up.

When I made the decision to leave my former job and join K, we had so many people doubt us. More than half of our friends and family has something negative or apprehensive to say. I don’t blame them- working with your spouse can be r.o.u.g.h.

Honestly, 88% of the time I love it. It’s a situation that works for us. We try to talk about work things at work and home things at home, but sometimes the worlds mesh. But I like that, too. (Not always, of course.) Also, our job duties rarely overlap so we’re kind of in our own little worlds all day with the option to pop in and visit one another or go to lunch together. Yeah, K is my boss, but he’s mostly hands off unless I’m totally lost or floundering. (Is “hands off” a cheeky phrase to use when talking about your husband as your boss? Lol.)

We like our jobs and love the company, but I’m a realist and I don’t edit out the sh*t moments so today I’m here to be 100% up front with you and rant about share the downsides to working with your spouse.

I’m not complaining; I’m being honest. And these things apply to us because K owns the company. I know it’d be different if we were both employees.

1. The guilt is real when it comes to taking time off. There are minimal people who work in the office so inevitably, when one of us is gone, the others have to pick up the slack. I know the self care mantra and the “you have sick days available-use them!” mindset is healthy, but it doesn’t exist without guilt when you’re sitting at home and your spouse is possibly picking up your slack. (At least for me.)

I have already had a break down over maternity leave. I want it, and I know it’s important, but we’re going to be going through a huge transition around that time and it KILLS me that I’ll be at home “doing nothing.” (I know I’m not doing nothing and K has told me time and time again how important my role at home will be during those weeks.) I just hate that I’m not helping the company. AND I want K to enjoy some paternity leave too with our little one. Honestly, this is something we’re still figuring out.

2. Do you ever get frustrated with your boss? Or, if you’re a supervisor, do you ever get annoyed with an employee? When that individual is your romantic partner it can make for a stressful dinner later that night.

We rarely get completely pissed at one another, but that’s because of good communication, quick forgiveness, and the willingness to compartmentalize OR just let things go. We don’t let things go very easily, so if we have a work problem we try to solve it before the end of the work day.

Sometimes a post-work detour to Target to cool down is just what the doctor ordered.

3. It’s very strange to carry the exact same stress as your spouse. We both carry similar personal stress, household stress, family stress, financial stress, AND work stress. It’s tough to vent or talk it out when you’re both already feeling the pressure.

4. That’s not to say we don’t have individual stress. It kills me that I can’t help when K is so stressed out and upset over a situation that is beyond my control/department. And at the same time, when someone pisses me off at work I know it frustrates him that he can’t step in and solve the problem because it’s not a situation that calls for the boss to get involved. There are plenty of nights we both lay awake thinking about job stress that neither one of us can help the other with.

5. Obviously we’re together a lot. We work and live and sleep and vacation next to one another. Two things have come from this. First of all, neither one of us feels guilty when we go do something on our own. He does a guys lunch with some of the men in my family on Saturdays. I love my alone time on weekends. I go to dinner with friends or visit my brother in Columbus and K stays home to decompress or get some work done. We’re both fine with independent actives in our free time. But secondly, we also recognize that time we’re together has to be allotted for the activity. Working together isn’t “quality time” together. It’s work. We still enjoy date nights and breakfast on the weekends and lounging on the couch together.


I know I’m fortunate to work with K. I know some couples spend a few hours together at night and that’s it or they work opposite shifts. Honestly, once we have a kid I think it’ll be nice to have some time where it’s just “us” again at work. But today I’m just airing all the little issues that still arise in our unique situation.

And of course I didn’t cover them all. My relationship with K is obviously different than every other employee here. And I’m sure our marital relationship has been changed and affected by our working situation. But digging into all that is too much for this post. Lol

I’m not even sure this was interesting, but it’s a peek at my life and some food for thought if you’ve ever imagined yourself working closely with a romantic partner. (I know a few of y’all DO work with your spouse.) Is working with your husband or wife (or girl/boyfriend) something you’d ever want to do?

24 thoughts on “The Downside to Working With Your Spouse

  1. i work with my husband; we’re on the same team and have even worked on the same projects (like now)…we’ve been working on the same team for over 10hrs now. it’s not as bad as others might think; at least for our situation — i pretty much ignore him if we’re in the same office but now that i work from home, it’s like we don’t work together. also, when we’re on projects together, i tell him to stay out of my way and i’ll only reach out to him if there’s an issue (he’s a program manager) LOL

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    • I know it’s people projecting their own relationship dynamics on us, but man there are some negative ideas out there about working with your spouse. It’s not bad for us either, especially when we operate in our own little worlds (which is 80% of the time). We come together for travel and trade shows and all the stuff that leads up to those, but most of my day-to-day tasks are all on me and I complete them on my own without anyone looking over my shoulder or managing me. Which I enjoy. Lol

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  2. I totally understand how this would be frustrating. at the same time, Danny and I talk almost daily about opening up a company (he already has one) where we can work entirely together. haha

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    • I would never discourage anyone from working with their spouse! I had reservations, too, when we started and we both agreed that if the situation negatively impacted our marriage I’d got find a different job (since he owns the company, lol). We didn’t anticipate that happening, but we were realistic about it. I really love the time we get to spend together at home and work. The job itself is s.t.r.e.s.s.f.u.l. but I have a different appreciation for his work ethic when we’re sharing in that stress.

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  3. My brother and his wife work together too – the same situation as you too. Brother owns the business and his wife is the office manager. She didn’t start working there immediately but I think she’s been working there for 10+ years. Honestly, I was a little concerned but it seems to be working for them. It’s one of those individual things, I think. Some couples work really well together and work hard to keep family and work lives separate from each other. I also think that couples who also encourage one another to do things by themselves – as you and K do – and embrace individuality versus fear it, always do better whether they work together or not.

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    • I agree. Not all couples can do it. It’s a personality thing and a work flow thing. And it probably depends on the industry, as well. We’re in a family friendly industry so even on business trip some of our colleagues will have their husband, wife, or family along. We can wear the coworkers hat or the married couple hat. And 8 years ago we would NOT have worked well together. Our temper and attitude and maturity has changed over time.
      I agree completely about being independent and doing things individually when you’re a part of a pair. Keeping your own identity and interests and values is so important- and having a partner that respects this unique things about you is key.

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    • Thank you! Not everyone does and there’s nothing wrong with that 🙂 8 years ago we would NOT have worked well together. And even over the past year we’ve made changes that have helped up function as coworkers and husband & wife.
      I have the same vacation restrictions as other people. In our company you get 5 days after your first year, 10 days once you hit 2 years. (I think you get 3 weeks once you hit year 5? No one is there yet. Lol.) We also get 5 sick/personal days a year. I believe I DID get vacation my first year so I got some privilege there. But I was also hired in as an emergency and quit my job of three years so I kind of bartered for that with him. We also have comp. days after we travel but I rarely use them.
      I keep track of everyone’s days, including K’s, but I don’t hold him to any of that. He’s the boss and I know his mind works 24/7 so no one really monitors his days. Plus, he probably takes the least amount of sick and vacation days of everyone here. I have to force him to use them when he’s overly worked or I need a vacation. Lol

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        • You’re not wrong… And even though we control that, it’s an industry standard and necessary to stay afloat & productive in the market we work in right now. We are pretty lenient with personal days and their hours and giving them a few early dismissals a year, though.

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          • In Switzerland and Germany the legal minimum number of days leave that your employer HAS to give you for a 5-day working week is 20. Companies in Germany have the option of giving up to 10 extra at their discretion (I am lucky enough to work for a company that gives the full 30), but they can’t give less. I’m not sure if Switzerland has any rules on how many days you can give on top of the 20, but Jan gets 25 (at his first job in Switzerland he got the legal minimum, so 20).

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    • It’s a personality thing and a situation thing. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with couples who can’t see themselves doing it 🙂 And the first few months (heck, the first year) was a learning process for us. We didn’t struggle in our marriage, but we had difficulties at work falling into that correct flow. With over 2 years down, I think we’ve got it figured out a little better 🙂 Although once there’s a kid at home I know it’s allll going to get turned on its head again. LOL

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  4. I don’t think I would like Jan to be my boss. He can be really patient and understanding when explaining stuff to other people but with me not always so much. Lol. Honestly I think it’s a very individual thing and it can be amazing but it wouldn’t be for us.

    I used to work for a company where the boss came from an entirely different field and had founded a translation company because his wife was a translator. It was them, me and one other employee. The boss and his wife would go out for lunch (with their Jack Russell puppy) and be away for 2 hours, and the wife was part time so she’d come back for an hour then leave for the day. I hated that job! The boss had no clue about translation and told me off once for leaving on time. I was so glad when they let me go because they couldn’t afford my wages.

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    • K and I let opposite things go so it works well. I think if we got frustrated by the same people or the same situations it’d be a disaster. Also, when he’s in a foul mood and people know it they’ll come to me as a buffer or to get a question answered. Haha. I think they like that if there’s an issue I can either take it to K or advise them on how to handle it before they jump in.
      The work situation sounds AWFUL. We try very, very hard not to abuse the fact that he’s in charge and we’re married. He expects me to show up on time, solve my own problems, apply for vacation like everyone else. Admittedly my lunches are probably a little longer some days, but most of the time I’m here early, I leave late, and I eat my lunch at my desk while working. Lol

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      • That work situation was definitely a an issue with those people and not a general problem with working for a company where the boss’s wife is also an employee. I imagine most people go out of their way to be fair. That boss was just a terrible person to work for in general.

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  5. There is no way that Chris and I could work together. We have worked on a few side projects together that got hairy at times haha. Now his day job is completely different than mine (he is in IT), so if we ever did work for the same company….I doubt we would hardly ever interact. It would be nice to get to spend extra time together though and see the hard work together on projects and stuff.

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    • Sometimes we work better together at work than we do at home. HA. It’s a small company (10 employees, only 3 in the offices) so we’re very often doing our own thing. That said, we do come together on projects a few times a month. When there’s other people involved it almost keeps us on better behavior. We can’t bicker or get frustrated and there’s a required level of respect to keep things professional.

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    • Oh man… I could NOT work with friends. I don’t know why it works for K and I but it does, thankfully. There are plenty of other people here who drive me much more crazy than he does 😉

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  6. This was SUPER interesting to read and I’m glad you shared it. I actually met Chuck at work. He was my boss for a period of time and we worked really well together. It did get tough when we started dating and became more serious. I changed positions and no longer reported to him, but it made for long days and a bit of tension when we saw each other day in and day out. We work for the same company now, and actually rarely see one another at work. I like that he is right here in this building when I need him, like for chocolate he stashes at his desk 😉 lol or in the case of an emergency (first time I needed him was 6 weeks ago and literally ran to his desk in the midst of everything). I found it such a good point about the stress factor- you both sharing the same stress. It must be so tough, but I’m sure so valuable and interesting at other times to share in the business. I’m so happy you shared this and gave us all an insight in to your work life!

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    • When I graduated hs we both helped out with the marching band part time and K was technically my boss in that setting. It did NOT work out well during that time in our life. We fought constantly and I was an (understandably) emotional and self conscious 18 year old. And he was more arrogant without the tact. Hahaha. He’s gotten better at leading and I’m much more confident in the roles I fill.
      He still irritates me at times 😉 I was SUPER mad about something yesterday and stormed into his office cursing and he told me to calm down. Obviously not what I wanted to hear. Haha. It took a while but I shook it off eventually and was fine after fuming in my own office.

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  7. Amazing! That’s awesome that you guys do work together and you make it work and are able to compartmentalize feelings and emotions from the house/job. I know I would not be able to work with my man, I’d probably end up in jail. HA

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    • Hahaha. It’s taken some practice and time and “faking it until we make it” mentality. And not every day is good. Lol. I really like working so closely with him, though, and we both really love our jobs and the company. So that helps 🙂

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