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husband and wife business partners-making it work — PhotoMint

How to Work with Your Spouse & Not Kill Each Other (Part 1)

This is the start of a 6 part series on husband and wife photography teams. In this series I will highlight many of the struggles Geoff & I faced as husband and wife business partners and how we overcame them. Look for the series posts on Fridays.

Working with your spouse will have its ups and downs. It’s great to have a partnership that extends to all areas of your life. On the other hand, it can become impossible to ever get away from the office if you work from home with your spouse.

It took Geoff and me a couple of years to get into a good work groove with each other. The problem was that he had come from a very team player or partnership environment where each decision was a shared responsibility. My background as an Executive Director meant I was the top dog; all responsibilities, all decisions rested with me. To say I struggled with shared decision making, well that would be putting it nicely. I fought it hard. For the first couple of years actually.

It’s been about 9 years now, and it’s safe to say we have worked out the kinks. Working with your spouse is a special kind of situation, and one that is pretty common among wedding photographers. It seems to happen naturally.

The thing is, even though it often comes together naturally, it often doesn’t feel natural in the heat of an argument. Here is some real world advice that will help make things go smoothly.

Don’t Worry if You Talk Shop All the Time

This was something that bothered me at first. It seemed that Geoff and I talked about wedding photography business 24/7. We’d try to get away from it, declare a date night free of business talk, and we simply couldn’t stay away. It turns out that we love what we do and when we aren’t working on our business, we are thinking about it. When I finally gave up the concept that there needed to be boundaries or separation, it was much easier to enjoy our time together outside the office. Frankly, we were both so absorbed in projects we were working on, that there was simply nothing else on our minds. And we were so busy, so focused on the building the business together, that there wasn’t much else going on in our personal lives. When we tried to have conversations about topics outside work, it often felt forced and challenging to come up with topics.

If you are at a point in your life where you are eating/sleeping/breathing your business, don’t add further pressure on yourselves to have interesting discussions about outside topics. It isn't necessary.

If you have outside interests, social activities, family and other things going on in your life, go ahead and create boundaries for shop talk time. But if there’s nothing else to talk about, don’t stress, go ahead and talk about business and what you are accomplishing together. Enjoy the life and the business you are building together. Remember that you don’t need to be concerned if something is working well for you. Embrace it.

Do you have a spouse who is also a business partner? Or a spouse that helps you out with your business? Share your experiences in the comments below or check out part 2 in our series on a wedding photography partnership.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Nadin Dunnigan October 21, 2011 at 10:37 am

Dear Lara, I just recently found out about your website through Facebook and I really enjoy your blog posts! Working with your spouse can be stressful to start with, but it’s something we are working on too. It’s interesting to hear that you cannot stop talking about it. I thought there was something wrong with us. I was looking forward to a weekend of meaningful conversation about life and the universe, but instead we were discussing our next marketing campaign! I have just recently stopped fighting this, as you say, it’s because we love our jobs! Fantastic blog and keep on writing.
Nadin x


Lara White October 21, 2011 at 11:27 am

So glad to hear you are enjoying it. The article today about working with your spouse is a very personal one, so it was hard to put that out there, yet I felt certain it could be helpful to others going through the same issues. Once I started writing, well I just couldn’t seem to stop. I broke the piece into a 6 part series. You know, sometimes I still imagine sitting about with a glass of wine having those lovely conversations about the universe and the meaning of life. But when you are working crazy hours and putting every ounce of yourself into your business, that’s all that is in your head. You can’t really carry much of a conversation on current politics if you aren’t both staying up on that topic. But marketing is always fun to talk about anyways!


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