Married to the Boss

Tips for a healthy marriage and work relationship

By Rachel Glover

[5 minute read]

 

When God brought Liam and I together he had a cheeky grin on his face. Another of his masterpieces was beginning to be created – two incredibly different people were to become one. Not just one as any married couple, but one in work too.

Liam and I have been married now for 26 years. Five of those years were spent working for someone else. For the other 21 years I found myself married to the boss. Now I’m not going to say those 21 years have been a walk in the park but I can say that we make a pretty good team! Over the years we’ve discovered how we best work together and how it’s necessary sometimes to leave each other alone!

I’d love to share a few things that I’ve learnt along the way as God has painted his piece called “Liam & Rachel – work, rest & play.” And you might find there’s a few helpful tips even if you’re not married.

 

Discover the Complement

Since we know God created us all uniquely there’s a high chance that you and your spouse are different. Different in personality, work preference and ability. Finding out how your unique contributions best complement each other is gold. If your spouse is innovative, big picture and dynamic perhaps you bring an eye for detail or the ability to finish the tasks that are initiated. If he or she is analytical, results driven and introverted perhaps you add value by dreaming about new ways to do things or sharing how the team feels. Finding how you each fit in the work place and affirming each other in that contribution will enhance not only your working relationship but your marriage overall.

Communicate in Truth and Grace

Clear communication can make or break any relationship. In marriage this is especially the case. When your marriage encompasses work, rest and play it is important to speak in truth and in grace in all settings. Honouring your boss is biblical (so is honouring your spouse!) so the way you respond to requests is significant. Clearly saying yes, no or later will build strength to your working relationship and consequently your team. Even though your boss is also your spouse it is appropriate to respond to requests as if he or she were not married to you. It is inevitable that you will be asked to do something outside of your usual work hours when you are married to the boss. Setting up guidelines in advance will help you to respond appropriately on those occasions. Sometimes it will be right to say yes, however, saying yes to work in non-work times should be the exception to the rule. (I’ll talk more about this later.)

Prioritise Marriage over Work

In the majority of cases you married your spouse before commencing work together. If this was not the case for you, it is still likely that you will be married longer than you will be work mates. Therefore, it is essential that you prioritise your relationship regardless of your employment. Date days or nights, trips away (without the kids if you have any), exploring common interests, times to laugh and cry all add richness to your relationship. When not at work, don’t talk about work. Share about your hopes and dreams. Live and breathe as a married couple.

Set Time and Place Boundaries

When you are privileged to work with (or for) your spouse it is essential to set boundaries around work times and places. Even God had a day of rest so working seven days a week is not ok. Inside those other days, determine together your work hours / days then stick to them. Having hard lines of starting and stopping work is healthy however achieving this inside a marriage is extra healthy (and possibly extra challenging). Where you work is also important. If you work from home, having an office or place from which you primarily work will help to keep work and home life separate. If you work away, don’t bring it home. Allow the time you are present at home to be your family time. Guard boundaries carefully in order to guard your relationship with your spouse.

Diarise Appointments

Your spouse is the closest person to you. Be careful not to abuse your relationship in the work place. Rather than interrupting your spouse whenever it suits you, diarise appointments. At the same time, request your spouse make appointments with you so that your work flow isn’t interrupted unnecessarily. Respecting each other’s time will bring life to your relationship and will also help your work to be more efficient.

Build Relationships with Team

You might be married to the boss, but you are also a valuable part of the team. Make every effort to build relationships with other workers. It is important that they identify with you as one of the team and not just the partner of the boss. Get to know them, find out how you best work together and bring your best in the job. The sum of your parts will definitely be greater than your individual efforts when you all contribute to the team and respect each other.

 

Working with your spouse can be incredibly rewarding or contribute to a slow fade in your marriage (depending on your intentional investment). Not all partners can (and should) work together. In some circumstances it simply doesn’t work. In others, it is a privilege to do so. I hope that some of my discoveries will help you to work, rest and play well together!