How To Work With Your Spouse: Expectation Vs Reality

Expectation  VS Reality Photo Credit: HRM Photography

Well... Here you have it. The honest truth... 

This blog has been a long time coming. It's one of the questions I get asked the most often & honestly I avoided this topic for SOOOO long... 

Why have I been casually avoiding it? 

Well... Because, the way that we work together and navigate our business is always changing and evolving as our business grows so it's constantly a learning curve for us too. I don't know how to navigate future Rebecca or future Chad because they'll both be very different people in a year from now. I felt that I needed all the right answers & to have it all figured out before I wrote a blog about this... but I couldn't have been more wrong... 

The truth is, you'll never have the perfect answers & nothing is ever fully figured out in life- you just learn as you go & help as many people along the way as you can! 

It's a fact. People do change, sometimes for the better & sometimes for the worst... But being on a self development journey together has made the biggest difference in keeping us on the same page. If you haven't read my blog on "This Is What's Holding You Back"- you must! It's been the biggest key to my personal growth & success as an individual & I truly believe individual development is key to coming together as a couple. 

Think about it- if I'm already well aware of my own personal flaws & weaknesses (and working to improve them) then there's no arguments to be had about them. I'm aware and open-minded in my approach on dealing with them. Chad will tell me if I'm being too much of a perfectionist & it can't even offend me because I already know that it's my weakness. So the conversation pretty much ends right there. If I didn't have the self-awareness to work on my own issues, it might offend me and make me angry that Chad's telling me that. Of course, the way in which it's communicated matters also. If the feedback is said in a kind & constructive way, you'll generally get a much better response than if you provide the feedback in a rude or sarcastic way. It all starts with the individuals in a relationship- if you're working to be a better person yourself & the other person is also on a self development journey of their own, chances are you'll have a pretty exceptional relationship together!

Just to be perfectly straight with you- I'm in NO WAY an expert on relationships, marriage or how to build a business together! I just know what's been working for us, what hasn't worked for us & that might look very different in the future as we grow & evolve. I'm also not naive to the fact that social media has a way of making things look 'happy & perfect' all of the time... 

HA- Highlight reel am I right?

I'm just here to share what's been working for us (so far) in hopes that you might find something helpful! 

1. Make Sure You Have A Healthy Relationship To Start
Please, for the love of God do not get into business with your partner if you do not have a healthy relationship with them! 

Oh my goodness you guys!!!

Relationships & businesses are hard enough on their own to navigate, let alone if you're having personal issues or not getting along with your partner. Not only are you setting your business up to fail but also your relationship... 

I'm just going to be straight up with you, Chad & I did not start out having a great relationship when we met 10 years ago. We both come from 'interesting' families (to put it nicely) that caused a lot of conflict between us & if you combine that with being young, we both brought our own issues & insecurities to the table. Had we tried to start Chick Boss Cake in the first couple years of our relationship... It would have failed miserably- FOR SURE! And what a loss that would have been... I can't even image a world with no Chick Boss Cake, can you? I certainly wouldn't be the same! 

Luckily, we loved each other enough to set some serious boundaries with family & work on our individual issues in order to cultivate a healthy relationship. 

Sometimes it's hard to know what a 'healthy' relationship looks like but it's fundamentally very simple- just be nice to each other & be respectful. That's honestly all there is to it. There will be disagreements & you will feel angry, hurt or let down but it's how you handle those emotions that really reflect how healthy the relationship is. Do you yell, scream & call each other names? Not healthy. Do you take some time to collect your thoughts & feelings and have an adult conversation? Healthy. 

I've been in some rough relationships so I definitely know what it's like to be on the unhealthy side of things, and let me tell you- I cannot imagine running a business AND being in an unhealthy relationship! You only have so much energy & if it's being spent constantly fighting... You'll have nothing left to give your business.  

If you're thinking of getting into business with your spouse, make sure you work through any unresolved issues together (or with a therapist) prior to even thinking about it!

2. Align Your Goals
Make sure your goals both align. 

Please, for the sake of your happiness, sanity & wellbeing don't have different goals! 

If one of you has a goal of spending lots of quality time together with the family and the other person has a goal of making lots of money & taking over the world...It'll never work. First of all, those are both very different goals & you'll constantly be battling for time & attention to focus on them. This will leave both of you unfulfilled & resentful toward each other.

You both need to be working towards the same goals. Be on the same team- It's way easier (and more fun) cheering each
other on if you're goals both align!

3. Define Your Roles & Job Duties
Write them out specifically on paper, get clear & very specific on what each person will (and will not) be responsible for. Having defined roles and job duties will not only help you both focus on your own tasks, but it will set your business up for success by making sure all areas of work are covered & you won't be stepping on each other's toes. 

I recommend playing to your strengths both in business & in your relationship. People love doing what they're best at & feel more confident and overall happier. Figuring out your individual strengths and defining the roles around them is best. Chad's an extroverted people person- he loves working with customers, staff & all the busy-ness of daily operations & I'm a creative introverted person who thrives in quiet environments where I can laser focus on my own job duties. Of course we still help each other out in different areas when needed, but overall we've defined our roles & we stick to them most of the time! 

I'd also like to add that trusting & allowing each other to complete those job duties on their own without constant nagging will be of your best interest.

4. Know Each Other's Love Language 

Ok... If you haven't done so please both go & take the "Love Languages" test after you're done reading this! Even if you're not in business with your spouse this will really take your relationship game to the next level...

Basically, it's an online test that determines how you prefer to be shown love. These are the 5 categories:

-Words of affirmation
-Quality time
-Receiving gifts
-Acts of service
-Physical touch

The test will walk you through a questionnaire and determine based on your answers, what makes you feel the most loved. The issue is, when you don't know each other's 'love language' you go based on what makes you feel loved which most of the time, will be different than how your partner needs to feel loved.

It works! Do it. I'll link it below!

5. Just Be FREAKIN' Nice To Each Other
"Please & Thank You" go a long way! 

I know this sounds soooo basic, but honestly if you can't just be nice to each other you probably just shouldn't be together at all. Who wants to spend their life with someone whose not nice to them? If someone tells you it upsets them when you leave dishes in the sink & you seriously don't respect them enough to care that it upsets them (regardless of how dumb YOU think dishes in the sink are), I'm sorry but... That's an issue. It's not up to you to decide what should or shouldn't upset your partner.  

If you're currently in a relationship where you either find it difficult to be nice to your partner or they have a hard time being nice to you... It's just not right. 

Being single is always better than being in a bad relationship. There's always someone else out there willing to treat you with the love & respect you deserve. So, don't be settling for anything less than you deserve girlfriend (and if you need a reminder of how amazing you are- hit me up, it's what I do best)! 

6. Don't Argue About Petty Nonsense
This goes hand in hand with being nice to each other but it deserves it's own point because if you do this, you'll never be able to run a business together! 

As I mentioned earlier, business is HARD on it's own. 

When you waste precious time arguing about petty nonsense or fighting over small things in your relationship, you're wasting time & energy that would be better spent elsewhere. I'm not saying to ignore your husband's lack of cleanliness or (unnecessary) need for not putting the toilet seat down...I'm just saying to let him know nicely that it's important to you (not in a bitchy/sarcastic way either) & I'd hope that he cares enough to do a few simple things that will ease your frustration. That's literally it. You both communicate the issues and work on respecting them. You don't have to both 'agree' that something is 'important' in order to do it (or not do it) you just have to have a level of respect for your partner & care about their feelings.

7. You Don't "Need Work Life Balance" You Need Clear Communication
Chad & I have tried the whole 'work life balance' approach and it doesn't really mesh well when trying to grow a business.

The thing is...There will always be times your business is going to interfere with life & times where life will interfere with business. The better approach is to communicate with your partner if you feel like you need a date night or if you'd rather get caught up on business. Being flexible with how you decide to spend your time will allow you to focus on the area that needs your attention at that specific time. 

Think about if you had a sick family member who was dying in the hospital (I know, it's sad- I'm  sorry) but you wouldn't be like "Oh sorry, I have to get back to work because you know 'work/life balance' and I've already spent my allotted amount of time towards the life part so... I gotta get back to work". You would spend whatever time you felt you needed to with that person! 

The same goes for when your business needs attention, if it's the busy season for your business and that's when you make the majority of your revenue- it needs to be all hands on deck! Having a flexible approach to life & business and scrapping the whole 'work/life balance' thing is important. There's no such thing as work/life balance when you own a business because it requires endless amounts of attention. Imagine you used the same approach to raising children like "I need to have X amount of time with my friends and X amount of time with my children"- It just doesn't work like that. There will be times when your business needs you more and times when your family needs you more & adjusting your priorities accordingly is essential! It's as simple as that! 

The better you're able to adjust and not feel guilty about where you're spending your time & energy the happier and more aligned in your life you will be!

In conclusion... 

Running a business with your partner can be as hard or as easy as you both decide to make it. 

I totally don't think it's for everyone but for me, it's been the pivotal factor in our success. We play to each other's strengths & don't nag on each other's weaknesses. I certainly don't know what the future holds, but this is what's been currently working for us. 

As human beings, we are constantly evolving, growing & changing as we get older... You either grow together or you grow apart & it's neither right nor wrong but it's simply a fact that takes constant work & adjustments to make it work together. 

Take the 5 love languages quiz here:

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