Working Together In Business

By Shelley Galasso Bonanno, MA, LLP

When a couple decides to pursue a business venture together, their shared passion, common interests and goals, and commitment to each other can be a wonderful asset. But being partners in business can pose a unique set of challenges for couples, and the trials and tribulations of running a business can be particularly challenging when your business partner is also your life partner.

Partners who are in business together spend far more time together than average couples, often blurring borders between work and home life. Clearly defined boundaries are essential for the relationship to continue successfully. In the work zone, making sure business roles complement each other and do not collide with one another is often key. Studies suggest successful collaborations draw on each partner’s strengths while also recognizing and adjusting for individual weaknesses without being uncomfortable about that vulnerability.

Partnerships provide a built-in companion with whom to experience not only the thrilling highs but also the challenging lows. While such experiences can lead to division in a relationship, they also offer unlimited chances to strengthen relationship bonds by offering the opportunity to work together on a shared goal.

To maximize success in both your business and your personal relationship, don’t let work tensions build to a breaking point. Invest in the relationship, just as you invest time and energy into your business. Cultivate your individual interests and take time to pursue individual goals outside of work. Perhaps most importantly, separate work and home life and define clear boundaries around personal time. While talking about work comes naturally outside of business hours, disconnecting from business issues and business talk at the end of the workday can help nurture feelings of increased balance in the relationship, and a sense that there is more to your relationship than just work.

Successful partners, particularly those who are in business with one another, must learn to manage their time wisely. Make a concerted effort to nurture your relationship outside of business obligations. Enjoy the things that give meaning to your relationship, unrelated to work. Setting aside a designated date night on a regular basis where you don’t discuss work and enjoy a shared hobby or interest takes time and energy but provides unlimited emotional benefits. And remember, as with most things, balance is always key. Investing in your relationship is just as essential, and perhaps more emotionally valuable, as investing in your business.

A lifelong resident of Macomb County, Shelley Galasso Bonanno is a practicing limited licensed psychologist who completed her master’s degree at Wayne State University in 1987 with a specialization in marriage and family therapy. She has a breadth of experience in working with adults, children, families, and couples. In addition to working in private practice, Ms. Bonanno performs consultative services for State and forensic agencies. She performs custody and parenting time evaluations and is a court approved mediator. Her writings have appeared in various online and print publications. An advocate for mental health, you can follow Ms. Bonanno on Twitter @ shelleybonanno.

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