Do your love and work lives intersect?
Do career or entrepreneurship aspirations complicate your marriage?
Juggling working from home with your partner?

In helping committed couples, my husband and I address the effect of work on relationships — from colleagues as friends and then dating, to coworkers getting married or business ventures that strain the most committed of couples.

What are some challenges faced by couples who have worked together?
Can you relate to any of these situations that others have recently shared with me?

Scheduling in general was mentioned by a number of people, including “lunch breaks” or “never getting time apart” for couples who are co-workers.

“We were almost always assigned to the same shifts. So if we needed to get something done there was no chance to do it on a day/time where only one of us was working,” one former co-worker told me. And while saving money driving to and from work together, “having one vehicle. If it needed repairs…” — you get the picture.

Style or personality differences may be more apparent. A radio broadcaster who does a show with her spouse, said: “I work with mine — and I’d say meshing our VERY different work styles or work personalities — I’m type A and like to plan, and he’s NOT.”

Another couple telecommuting during the pandemic experienced something similar. “Both working from home, with one room separating us, he is very loud on the phone and Zoom calls. Trying to coordinate schedules has not been easy. I am type A and he is so not!”

Beyond what transpires between a couple is how they are viewed by their colleagues. “Issues with the other team members feeling like you will share secrets with your significant other; not being able to address an issue with one about the other (if one is a manager/boss); having a monopoly if they are in positions of power; gossip; arguing like you do at home; not being able to put boundaries in place at work” were all listed by the long-time manager of a professional practice.

Boundaries between home and work also were mentioned by others. Another former co-worker commented that a downfall is to “Talk about work too much.” On the flip side is “not really feeling like you can talk about your day ([because your spouse] saw everything as well).”

If the talk between spouses who jointly run a business is negative instead of positive, it can create a challenging work environment. “I’ve seen this one, If there’s a disagreement about something that can follow you into work, and result in the… disagreement… continuing at work, that strains the relationship with your other employees. [My wife] and I got a first-hand view of this until we went and sat outside — ended up waiting for a half hour for the two to sort themselves out.”

One extended family member who owns a business with her spouse wrote, ”We have left the house angry at times but no matter what we NEVER bring that negative energy to the clinic, so it’s been good for us. Fake it till you make it; when you are forced to be kind things dissolve quickly and you are no longer angry about something so trivial.”

The challenging effects of work-life balance, while recognized as a global issue, still have the deepest impact in the home and require effective management. This is true of the North American surge in entrepreneurship, start-ups, family businesses, and gig economy that may have work, home, and love intersecting. And, when it does, it may lead to a well-choreographed dance or a life-threatening collision.

Additionally, the pandemic has moved bread-winners out of their offices and into their homes, working remotely — often alongside their life partners — for those of us lucky enough to have jobs that allow us to telecommute.

Some challenges are common among committed couples who are also co-workers, while others are unique to certain settings, such as feeling alone or overlooked being the spouse of an entrepreneur running a startup, because of working behind the scenes on odd jobs in the operation instead of a passion project.

While challenges abound — as they did for my husband and me — knowing there are others who can relate to, be supportive of, and guide you in your ‘couples as co-workers’ situation can help make a difference. Thanks to all who shared their input and experiences.
Peace + Love,

Need some clarity with work-life balance? Trying to keep workplace issues from breaking up your marriage? Interested in how our coaching and programs can help you be better partners in business and love? Contact us.

Brenda Dow, Marriage Educator and Relationship Coach |