Working at the same firm with your spouse!
August 6, 2010 9:31 AM   Subscribe

Ms. Fuzzy Dog and I are happily married, now Ms. Fuzzy Dog is on the short list for a position at the firm I work for. If she is hired, what are some best practices for not letting work dominate our life? More details after the break.

Ms. Fuzzy Dog and I are very happily married. I work for a small environmental firm, last week she was approached by the big cheese and invited to apply for a position that has less than 1% overlap with what I do - Big Cheese asked me what I thought be for asking her to apply - Big Cheese is good like that.

It's very clear that Ms. Fuzzy Dog is on the short list and knowing Big Cheese as I do, the decision is made, Ms. Fuzzy Dog is the person for the job.

We lived and traveled full time on a small sailboat for 3 years, so the togetherness factor of this opportunity is not an issue. We are BLISSFULLY happy right now and don't want that to evaporate.

Ms. Fuzzy Dog has been consulting for the past 5 years. I had been consulting for over a decade before being headhunted by this firm last fall, so we know how different the switch from freelancing to working on a dedicated team is.

Assuming that Ms. Fuzzy dog gets the job, what are some good, proven strategies to keep us from being all work all the time? If you have worked with your spouse, what do you wish you knew before you started?

Thanks mefi!
posted by Fuzzy Dog to Work & Money (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't have any real tips except to say that it might not be a huge deal. My husband and I work for the same company, on teams that have a fair amount of overlap, and are currently engaged in a project together where I am essentially his technical support (he's a Network Engineer, I'm a Network Security Engineer).

It works for us because we both love what we do and the company we work for is not very demanding in the off hours. We spend a lot of off-hour time talking about work, but its just conversation that we both enjoy. It doesn't run our lives because we have a lot of other interests (that we also do together pretty much all the time), so we have a lot of things, in general, that we talk about -- and work is just one of them.

Although, we have always talked about work a lot. Even before we started working together, and now its actually nicer. When either of us has a gripe or complaint, the other can completely understand and sympathize.

Just stick to whatever your work routines currently are and I think you'll be fine. If you lived and traveled on a sailboat for 3 years, then you already know how to get along in some cramped situations. This is going to be a cake walk in comparison ;)
posted by CorporateHippy at 9:54 AM on August 6, 2010


I knew a couple who worked for the same company but similarly had very little overlap. They would often lunch together but other than that it was as if they worked in the same field, but might as well have not worked in the same company -- except they commuted the hour+ back and forth daily.

They didn't have any issues of which I was aware but they did have one rule -- you can bitch and moan about work for 1.5 hours after we leave the office, but after that, it's done.

I don't like talking about work -- when it's going well or not. I like to leave it there. And I really don't like hearing complaints when there's nothing I can do about it (which, when I can listen, is all I can do) So I've implemented this same "you can only talk about work for x amount of time after we're together" in my relationship too, and we don't work in the same office/field at all.

I think it depends on what you do and how much you like it. But it sounds like in your instance it's the best of this kind of situations. I'd LOVE to work near but not with my S.O., and hopefully your sailboat story is an indication that you have a similar kind of relationship. Good luck -- though seriously it sounds like you don't need it... which is so great to be able to say in a relationship question around here :)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:23 AM on August 6, 2010


My coworker and her husband have worked for the same company for 15 years or more, with no overlap in their jobs, and seem to be a happy couple. Even though he works 2 floors down, they rarely see each other or eat lunch together. They don't even talk on the phone unless it's to coordinate a kid issue. I think it must help to keep your own routines during the day.
posted by cabingirl at 11:10 AM on August 6, 2010


My (now) husband and I had a rule like the one MCMikeNamara mentions. We could talk about work (good stuff, complaints, plans, whatever) for half an hour or so after we left the office, but after that, zip it.

Other than occasional work creeping into life before we made the rule, for us it was no big deal, and we worked directly with each other. We were already really good about togetherness and communication, and neither of us ever viewed work as a place to go to get a break from the each other, so that probably helped.
posted by mostlymartha at 11:38 AM on August 6, 2010


I work in the same company as my husband. He was there first and I came on in a supportive role in another department. We do talk about work a lot, but working there helps me understand his responsibilities, issues, and co-workers better. I think that's a bonus. We're each more engaged when listening to the other talk about the day at work. Sometimes we need to force ourselves to get on to anther topic, but that's an issue we have that you may not.
You might want to talk about expectations of working in the same place ahead of time. For instance, how do you spend your lunch time? Will one of you have expectations that lunch will be together or at least occasionally you'll have a lunch date? Will you need to talk about how you will interact in the office? (Will you show affection, talk about personal issues at work, expect the other to always stop to say hi on their way by, etc.?)
I had never seen my husband at work, so discussing these things ahead of time might have helped (me). So now I know! And it's all good.
posted by LilBit at 11:58 AM on August 6, 2010


Great suggestions all around! Thanks mefi!
posted by Fuzzy Dog at 3:34 PM on August 6, 2010


While I can't speak from a personal viewpoint, my parents have been working together for nearly 20 years now. They have a great working dynamic, and some things that I have seen them do that helps them cope with working life together, in the same office space, are:

- Leaving disputes about the office, at the office. Sure, they may talk shop after office hours, but any disagreements don't get brought back
- Learning to give and take. They may fiercely believe in the strength of their positions, but there is usually some mutual giving of ground
- Listening. When one of them bitches about work, the other listens. And I really mean listen.

I guess working together for so long has made them closer, and their bond stronger. In my 20 years of existence, I can count on one hand the number of serious arguments they have had, at least in my presence. Sure, they might have disagreements, but these don't normally affect their relationship with each other.

Not from them, but someone once told me, when you've won her heart, you don't need to win the argument.

Some of this may not be applicable to you (e.g. you're working in the same office but don't have overlapping responsibilities) but nonetheless I hope this helps.
posted by titantoppler at 9:28 PM on August 7, 2010


OP Follow Up: Mrs. FuzzyDog took the job, we established some ground rules for the office and home. What to talk about, when, how much. We also established a "secret code" to remain loving and supportive in the office. I smirk when I use a secret keyword phrase that is innocuous to my coworkers, but mean something totally different to Mrs. FD. Thanks again for all the ideas.
posted by Fuzzy Dog at 12:15 PM on September 23, 2010


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