Cost-cutting needs have produced the latest trend: spouse-run businesses. According to the Kauffman Foundation, 8% of new small businesses in the U.S. are co-owned by husbands and wives.


Both marriage and business co-ownership are relationships with potential for conflict. How can a couple successfully work together without compromising their marriage?

Here are some of the possible pitfalls of this arrangement, together with suggestions for managing the work/marriage relationship:

  • Avoid merging business with home life. Spending all your time with your business partner can tempt you to discuss the business at all times. That’s a surefire way to obliterate your marital bond. Instead, be careful not to allow the two worlds to overlap, and leave the business talk where it belongs- at the office.


  • Keep roles both within the business and without well defined. If both spouses throw themselves into the business with no regard for task distribution, both will burn out. It’s important to figure out which skills each spouse brings to the table, and to divide the work accordingly. The same is true for marriage


  • Healthy and effective communication is key. Spouses who used to have separate work lives suddenly see each others’ work styles up close. Learning to critique each others’ work performance can be intimidating. To minimize discomfort, both partners should agree on a system by which they can effectively and safely tell each other suggestions for improvement.

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