Working with Your Spouse.. How Do You Do It!?

Several weekends ago, I took some time to tune into a wonderful event called The Amazing Life Together. It was a series of webinars put on by several different couples where they answer questions about love, marriage, and their lives together. They spoke honestly about marriage and how it has its ups and downs and that as a couple you can be equated as a rubber band, together you will flex apart but then you snap together again. One of my favorite couples who happen to be some of the most amazing photographers I’ve come across joined into the conversation. Justin & Mary are destination photographers who not only have the amazing ability to capture who people truly are and their love for each other, but they also empower others by speaking about their journey towards becoming photographers and having a successful business doing what they love.

I had the opportunity to hear them speak several years ago in San Francisco as part of their “Spread the Love Tour” and I can say that it changed me, it spoke directly to my heart. It put Justin & Mary on my radar as people to follow, people to look up to, and people who have the ability to speak to the heart and empower others. And the best part about it all was that although they are known nation wide and by millions of people, they are still very genuine people. Before the event, Mary took the time to speak to those of us who had showed up a bit early. She got to know a little bit about us, where we were from, etc. And even after the tour, she invited those who had attended to dinner with them.

Since then, I have yet to be able to attend another event to hear them speak, but I am always following what they are up to which was how I stumbled across their webinar. In that webinar, Justin and Mary talk about what it is like being married as well as working day in and day out with each other. How they can identify when they are overworked and what they do during those times when they are feeling angst. And as I watched, I was taking mental notes. Here you have a couple who literally spends all day together building their business who also live together. A couple who has built this powerful relationship  and bond at the same time. They have made it work and in the end become a better couple because of it. And I got to thinking, not only does this relate directly to myself and my farmer, but it could also help some farm wives or even self employed business owners out there too!  So I wanted to share some of my “mental notes” and I will touch on some of the key points they bring up about living and working together.

1. Making time for yourself is important

Justin brings up a great point in that they aren’t like many other couples in that when they sit down for supper, they can’t talk about their days because well, they were both there. So a lot of times they find that they don’t have much to talk about when they have been working intensely together. He says the way they have found a way around this is by taking some time for themselves. Maybe Mary goes shopping with the girls and Justin goes to the batting cages with the guys and those few hours spent apart reinvigorates their relationship. It’s like a reset and for them it sparks all kinds of new conversations. And I find this to be true about my farmer and I. It’s important to recognize those things you like to do by yourself or maybe with your friends. For me, it can be something as simple as being creative whether it be in a photography sense, art sense, or even culinary sense. Some time for me to spend in the kitchen with the music blaring, dancing, singing into the spoon. Or for me to have some quite time enjoying nature myself, capturing things with my camera and creating those beautiful images that reflect my quiet moments by myself.

2. Making time for each other outside of work

Mary brings up the fact that in the past two years, they have set a rule that as soon as 7 pm rolls around, computers shut off, phones get put down, social media and emails stop, and that time is spent together outside of business. She said also during this time her and Justin don’t talk about work (which she says is hard but they work on it) but instead try and focus on each other and themselves as a couple. They cook, they drink wine, they watch movies, they take a walk. She also says that sometimes when they are feeling really at each others throats, they will stop what they are doing and up and do something fun. Go get ice cream, go see a movie, have a date night. Something to break up the angst they are feeling, let loose, and have fun together as a couple. Taking that time to unwind and have fun together resets their focus on each other and often times can give you a fresh perspective on your work as well. It’s easy for us to get lost in focusing on business and our careers and yes those things do matter. But what also matters is our relationships and especially your marriage so it’s important to make time for that as well.

3. When working, physical separation is necessary and good 

Justin and Mary have talked before about how they work in separate offices and I think this is a very smart idea. So although they may be working TOGETHER they aren’t physically side by side. Justin brings up the point in the video that they both work very differently, so having a separate space is good. It allows each of them to have their own place to work however they feel comfortable. I think that when you are going a million miles a minute that physical separation is key. If you are bumping into each other throughout the day, it can draw on your nerves. So allowing yourself your own space is more beneficial than trying to work side by side. Also a physical separation of your working space versus your living space is important. It draws that psychological barrier where you can shut the door at the end of the day and set your focuses things other than work.

4. When you are talking about business, don’t pull the husband or wife card

When you are working and married, it’s easy to drag domestic issues into your business life. Don’t. If you need to have an honest talk with your spouse about something in your business, leave the husband and wife cards at home. Focus on business and the two of you, but don’t drag not taking out the trash into the equation. And if you need to, start out the conversation by saying, I’d like to have a business discussion. That way you both are on the same page, this is about business and nothing personal should be brought into the conversation. This also is a great way to give each other feedback and realize that when you spouse is giving your feedback or maybe even a critique, he/she is in no way attacking you personally. But instead they are trying to make you a better business person because of it. In all parts of our life, taking criticism is tough, but taking it from the ones you love the most is the hardest. And if you are the one giving all the feedback all the time, check yourself. Be sure that you are both praising as well as giving feedback to your spouse.

5. Understanding each other’s love languages

Basically understand how your significant other feels the most loved. His love language may be your blessing on him taking some time with the boys or you allowing him some time to tinker in his shop. Whatever it is that you can do for him that lets him know, I am in your corner, I am there for you, I am supporting you, and I love you. Your love language may be romantic things. Surprise flowers, the little things he does for you to show you he’s thinking about you. Or maybe both of you need verbal confirmation and that other person to say, just so you know, I love you and I respect you. Whatever it may be, figure it out, find it out and make it a point to strive towards doing those things for the other person, especially when you are going like crazy and your stress level is high.

6. Compartmentalizing work versus home and family time is important

Designating certain spaces for work, shutting things off that are work related, designating time to work and time to enjoy family or each other is very important, focusing your evening discussions on anything BUT work. When you are able to shut off your brain on work, it give you the ability to focus on each other and your key elements in your relationship. There will be plenty of time to hash out those important business ideas, but give yourself some time to mentally rest, physically rest, and enjoy life no matter how busy you may be. Mary says in the video, rest is essential not a luxury and I think a lot of people forget that. When you are starting to feel like everything is getting dramatic very quickly or a small thing is looking like the end of the world, take some time to be at home, be grounded, rest, and relax. It can recenter you, refocus you, and reset you.

7. Recognizing seasons of hard work 

It’s understandable in any profession that you will have that one season of business, one time of the year where these things may get neglected and that is okay as long as your relationship isn’t suffering because of it. But at the same time, recognizing when those seasons are and when they aren’t is important because it gives you time to plan many of the things discussed above. Maybe a mini-vacation or getaway when you can and spending some time when you aren’t working like crazy to have those meaningful discussions about your relationship and to reflect on what happened in those busy times together. It’s okay to enjoy the rewards of the hard work you put in. Justin and Mary are calling this year their Year of Living. After so many years literally with their nose to the grindstone, they have finally carved out some time for themselves and enjoying just living rather than working all the time. They reflect on those years of nonstop hard work with regret for not making time to just live, but also they recognize the opportunities that came out of that hard work. It’s important to realize that both are important and where to draw that line for you and your spouse.

So there you are, my mental notes that I hope to employ as my farmer and I say “I do” and become husband and wife working alongside each other for many years to come. I recommend checking out Justin & Mary. They do write and put out a lot of photography stuff but at the same time they do write a lot about life, relationships, and maintaining that balance between life and work.

I hope that some of your farm wives or even working couples were able to take some things away from this. And if something wasn’t covered here, tell me, how do you make it work together as a married couple and as a working couple…?

Photo May 12, 7 36 02 PM

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3 Comments

  1. June 26, 2013 / 3:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing Jenny! I think these are great tips for all couples out there, and especially for those that work closely together. Last year My Farmer and I came up with “fun” but yet very practical rules for being a good husband and wife during busy times on the farm – I think you might like them: Rules of a Farm Wife (http://shar.es/xRras) and Rules of a Farmer (http://shar.es/xRrfB).

    • June 26, 2013 / 5:32 pm

      Val- these are GREAT! Thank you for sharing the links!