We have for the last few years been working together as a career running Ever After Acres. I (Lisa) am the official owner of the company, but Ben and I work together as equal partners. We thought we would share our thoughts on what it is like to spend not only your free time with your spouse but your work time as well. We will hop back and forth between my thoughts and Ben's as we examine this lifestyle we have embraced.
Ben: In my previous employment I was either anxiously awaiting my shift to end so I could go home and see Lisa or using my position to include her in my work. I think a lot of it though has to do with personality, just as would be with any fellow co-worker. Truth is you may be able to love and like your partner in living life together but working together is a different game all together. I know many people who have and would say they could never work with their partner. At one time I would have thought that was really horrible but I think it actually is just being really insightful of your own relationship.
Lisa: Our personalities are very different when it comes to overall family life as well as work. But for us, the two complement each other. I am not very organized...my memories come up on Facebook for 10 years ago saying "This is the year I get organized".....then 9 years ago "This is me, trying to get organized again" and so forth....all the way to when I finally decided I am not an organized person, so I let Ben do that for our family life AND our business. I can follow an organized plan, I just have a hard time setting one, I have too much I want/feel we should do and I am not good at prioritizing them so they actually get done. Ben is very good at this and it is helpful that he is part of the business.
Lisa: Different people need different amounts of time alone. I do not require a lot of time alone. Finding time for myself is easy, I pick up a book (lately I have been reading books on my phone....not ideal but I can read a paragraph or page in between other things...and it works well for me) I can just about drown everything else out while reading, this gives me time away, without actually going away. One thing I do not do well is outings with friends. Usually by the evening (when most outings would take place) I am tired and since I am not a fan of driving...I usually choose to stay home. When we lived in town, I would just invite people over, but that is not as easy as it once was, cause some people are not willing to travel either. I enjoy spending time with my family, and I always enjoy hanging out with friends, when it happens, I just find it hard to make it a priority.
Ben: Finding time for yourself and family becomes a challenge when almost all aspects of your life you are together. I think it's important to include get aways with friends, evenings alone and regularly finding ways to just get some of your own personal time. In our house with 5 kids, 2 dogs, and 2 cats my personal time is in the bath when I shut out the rest of the world. This becomes especially important when working with your partner. Family time is not as hard because with our kids it's impossible to get away without spending time together.
Lisa: This one can be difficult at times. For example: this blog....when I had some blogging/entrepreneur friends suggest we start a blog, I had a million ideas of how it would look and the "method" we would use to get our thoughts out to the masses. I told Ben and within a day he had the first one or two ready to go....not at all in the direction my head thought we should go. I am pretty easy going, it did not bother me that it went a different way, it just means that I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the direction he is hoping it will go. (Truth: He actually started this blog post cause I said I am having a hard time thinking of ideas to get started! lol) There are other areas where we disagree about business decisions....but it is still nice to have two of us (sometimes we actually get the whole family involved in decisions) making these decisions, since sometimes making decisions hurts my head....cause we can make them together.
Ben: Running our own business we have to make some pretty important decisions that could help or hurt our business. Truth is, we don't always agree but this is where listening becomes really important. I find we need to listen closely to what the other person is saying. We also feel taking on the world alone is silly and so when a decision needs made we don't leave it up to just us, we run it by people we trust in our lives that will tell us their thoughts.
Lisa: For many years we had the "traditional" style of household roles. Ben went to work, I stayed home and did all the housework, kids, grocery shopping....everything that went along with being at home. For 13 of those years, I actually worked as well, but mine was from home (for the local newspaper) so I had to balance everything, but since I was home and could work whenever (no set hours) we made it work. But now that we are both home full time, we have found ways for both of us to not feel overwhelmed with any of it. He actually does the homeschooling and 90% of the meal planning/meal making. I do all the laundry (except for the 22 year olds....she can fend for herself! lol) and I still clean both bathrooms....but it works for us, cause I would rather do those than deal with cooking anyway! I would say overall, right now, he takes on more of his "fair" share of household duties, because on top of running the business, I am also taking a very intensive aromatherapy course...which takes up a lot of my brain power. hahaha I still do 99% of the vacuuming....but only cause it soothes me :P
Ben: When I was out everyday working away from home she took care of significantly more of the household routine than I did as a result of sheer time at home. I can honestly say in our earlier years she did so more as a result of me being a jerk. Now though we make sure to both give our full effort and some of our roles have completely shifted from before. A few examples of this change would be that I now cook almost all our family's meals as well as take care of the homeschooling. Don't be surprised to drive by and see Lisa taking the garbage down to the road or both of us mowing the lawn together. Our roles are fluid and change as needed.
Lisa: Our business is part of our life....I cannot see being able to keep it separate. We are considered a Lifestyle Business (and some may agree or disagree that this is a good idea), but it is what we have chosen and overall we love it. I don't see anything wrong with talking business on dates, if it is something that interests us both and makes us happy to have time to discuss it without interruptions (trust me with 5 kids and 2 dogs and 2 cats....there are plenty of opportunities for interruptions during business meetings that take place at the house! hahaha) I see no reason we should not. I think we do a great job making sure our business is part of our life, vs our life is part of the business....what I mean by that is we try and put business into our every day life, vs trying to squeeze some everyday life into our business. Everyone has to decide what works best for their family (and business) but for us, we enjoy showing people our chaos, our struggles and victories....and to me that means the two are interconnected, life and business.
Ben: Keep your business separate from your personal life. This is perhaps an area that we are not really great at and could improve. We have had date nights we talked mostly business and if we aren't careful a week or month can go by and our focus has been almost completely on the business. Making sure you have time for just being together as friends and lovers is super important.