Tuesday, October 6, 2015

What I Have Learned Working With My Husband


Do you know anyone that works with their spouse? The thought of that makes my blood run cold. I'm getting night sweats and am on the precipice of blacking out from terror. Let me be the first to put it out there (okay, well Andrew probably would say it quicker than even me) that we would so not do well if we had to work together in a traditional sense.

I'm very list oriented in all areas of life- to do lists, monthly goals, financial plans- I want to know what the end result is and what is the most efficient way to get there. Andrew focuses on improving processes and making things consistently better. Andrew's strength is that he wants to get to the root of a problem and solve that, while I sometimes feel like I'm running on a treadmill going faster and faster just to check off all my to do list items. I'm loud and he can be quiet. I have an endless to-do list (for myself and most people in my periphery life), while Andrew chugs along knowing exactly what he needs to do without writing it down. Both of us have our pitfalls and both of secretly despise/want to be like the other at times, but we just aren't. We aren't now and we won't be in the future. We thrive where the other may falter and and know that it works both ways. We are perfectly okay with knowing working together would not add to our happiness at home. PERFECTLY OK.

Contract Drafting

Andrew opened his own business that he manages part time about 6 months ago, which is one of the things I'm most proud of him for. I think it is brave to really put himself out there and work to create something from where there was nothing. It proves to me his never ending work ethic and determination at solving complex problems. Andrew spends his days working as a contract lawyer for a large company and was all too well aware of the pitfalls that happen when people don't really read their contracts. You know the people that sit and read the iTunes contract updates... he is one of them.

 Whether it is a landlord/tenant relationship, private contractor looking to improve their legal rights,  or someone trying to undo a wrong that happened at work or at play, the company Andrew started red lines, edits, and writes contracts and legal documents to make one feel more comfortable that their legal rights are being met- aka knowing what they just signed and WHY they signed it. Better than that, he makes it affordable. If it is a big enough issue for someone to know that they need a lawyer then it needs to be done quickly. I'm so very proud of him.

So that is all fine and nice- until I did something stupid. It started out innocently enough just editing some copy here and there for advertising, but I couldn't just stop there. I got interested in the inner workings. My MBA came out as I tried to tweak this (the business side- not legal obviously) and trim down that to make the whole process flow easier. And then it got a little worse. I just knew that things would be a bit more efficient if we did this this way or we offered this instead of that. And then I realized that I was talking in WEs instead of HEs. Ooops.

So we had a couple uncomfortable talks where we each had our ideas and walked away a little (okay a lot) angry before realizing that this wasn't fun. Not fun at all. I didn't need (or honestly want) to be a part of something if it was going to make us both feel this way, so we decided that I was going to step back from  ContractDrafter.Com anymore. Great, more time where I had sole ownership over the remote control. But that didn't quite happen. There was one more thing that I needed to finish and suddenly things actually seemed better. We decided to give it another go and I (while knocking on wood) am pretty pleased with where things stand.

What changed? A couple things did and they made a HUGE difference. The first was that we set up meeting times. The meetings and only the meeting were where we discussed business stuff and after the meeting was done we walked away with our very different to do lists. Each person knew what they were supposed to do and when they were supposed to do it by. Funny how that helps. Instead of me feeling like I was over reaching  or not adding enough value, we set up real goals (S.M.A.R.T. goals... sorry again that ugly MBA rearing its head) that needed to be done and we did them. Novel idea... don't laugh. We may be slow on the uptake, but are loving the difference.

 The other thing that changed was our expectations of communications from each other. I like to throw a ton of stuff at a wall and see what sticks. Post it notes are my best friend and a typical note pad for me has writing going 4 different ways with lots of scratch outs and multiple colors of ink. Ya know, I like to make things maddening if I ever need to go back and read my note. Andrew likes to work methodically. Both of us like to feel involved and part of the process. So instead of me emailing him 100 genius ideas (debatable... at the very best) and him feeling overwhelmed at my nonsense, we set up tracking mechanisms. We track client proposals, client payments, overall work load, and our marketing efforts. This way I can see if we are up to the brim on how many clients we can manage and see if I should slow marketing efforts or if it is the opposite and we need to push, push, push all advertising mediums. On the other hand, Andrew can feel supported that all the business side of the company is running strategically and can focus on providing the best legal counsel possible.

The last thing I have learned is the never ending lesson to disagree/fight/express opinions fairly. There are still things I do that he probably drives him crazy and 100% likewise. We know exactly what we COULD say to make each other mad or, even more true, how we COULD say it, but it isn't worth it. It feels great to be working on another project together and building something from nothing, but it isn't nearly as important as still laughing freely at the end of the day. Whether it is starting our new life here, fixing up our home together, or trying to see where this business venture will take us, working together isn't as scary as I thought it would be.

So what have I learned from working with my husband...
1) We both like to repeat mantras like 'this is not a unicylce' on repeat until we forget what they were originally supposed to mean
2) Meetings can be a really good thing and are one way to stay organized
3) Communication is key
4) Communication is hard
5) Like it can be really hard
6) Fighting fair should always end with an office treat. It is even better when that office is your kitchen and you have it consistently stocked with Popsicles. Unrelated- can I business expense my Popsicle grocery trip next time?

-S

13 comments:

  1. Communication, communication and communication! The key to everything! And I think it helps to only talk about work during designated hours (vs in bed, at dinner etc). Congrats to you and your hubby! Trish - tales from trish

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  2. I think communication is the most important thing in any relationship but especially with your partner and spouse!! I have always dreamed of working with Gary!! I think it's so great you guys have been working through working together! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  3. I'm glad you were able to admit that it wasn't working before it got really terrible. its great that you admitted what needed to change and were both willing to work on it. Also, his business idea sounds really neat and helpful to a lot of people!

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  4. Communication is definitely key! I don't think I could work with my husband even though we chat all day while we're both at our separate jobs.<3, Pamela Sequins & Sea Breezes

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  5. my best friend works with her husband (and my husband as well, actually) and i don't know how she does it. i love my husband (duh) but we are so different especially at work i know we'd clash lol, for a lot of the reasons you mentioned lol. communication is definitely key, but it can be really hard, especially when you love the person who is doing things wrong / not the way you want them done lol

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  6. i work with my husband. we're legit on the same team, under the same director and he is about 7 or 8 pods down from mine. the key to me not getting sick of him: i legit ignore him and pretend that he's not there. i know that sounds mean but if we were always in each other's faces, i would probably end up killing him. we go in separately, go on breaks with other people etc. the only time i go and talk to him is if i need something, if i want coffee/breakfast and i'm almost at the office or if i was too lazy to pack lunch and i don't feel like going out to get it. i swear, i'm not a horrible wife even though it sounds like it LOL

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  7. I don't now if I could work with my husband...I like the idea in theory, but we have different work and communication styles so I can see us having a similar breakdown! I'm glad that you guys were able to figure out what wasn't working and get on the same page. What a great team!

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  8. What a great post!!! I could never work with my significant other, we are both too opinionated and will get super angry super quick. We just agree to disagree. I think that popsicles are a great option, I prefer about 20 pounds of sour patch kids. Thanks for sharing
    bakingrunner.blogspot.com

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  9. I applaud you! I could never work with Pete... although to be honest I don't think I could ever live AND work with anyone!!! lol

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  10. AMEN To all of this!!!!!!!!! love this post!
    XO Ellen from Ask Away
    www.askawayblog.com

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  11. You guys are so awesome!! Seriously communication is such a key trait! Especially when running a business and making decisions together. It sounds like you guys are figuring our goals and roles really well together :) I run a little business and Jason helps a lot but if we don't communicate something to each other, it could mess up a product a ton! I'm glad you guys are doing so well! in this!
    xo, Candace | Lovely Little Rants

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  12. I so love this post! I'm slightly in a similar situation. Errol started his own business a few years ago and up until recently it was all his until he started to realize that it was becoming too much for him to handle on his own while working a 50 hour week. That's where I stepped in. I handle all his customer communications and other office type duties. I get paid for cause ya know, I love him and all but I don't work for free.
    But could we really work work together? Hell no! We are very different and too similar that it most likely wouldn't work. I love lists and process improvement and thinking outside the box. I also like to somewhat have a plan. He just instinctively formulates a plan and it's a go. But we both want to be in charge. We're both leaders and assertive and stubborn.
    I do like the meeting idea and I might implement a once a month check in meeting. I like the idea of that.

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  13. I love that you guys work together. I'm sure it can get a little tricky at times but working towards one goal really unites a couple. And not only should you expense your grocery bills, but your internet bill and dining table too? haha

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