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Couples who work together: Myths and realities

3 min read

This article is taken from a webinar (in French only) hosted by psychologist and speaker Pierrette Desrosiers, which explores the opportunities and challenges that couples who work together may face. It is part of a series of modules focused on managing the human aspects of the family farm business. 

In agriculture, it is common to see couples working together. From exchanging ideas to reality, these partners must juggle many considerations to balance the development of their business with their development as a couple and as individuals.  

Couples who are in business together may adopt the classic structure of a financial and decision-making partnership where both spouses are involved in the business. It may also mean that one person is paid or volunteers, donates time or participates in decision-making. 

In either case, the spouses must keep in mind that the individuals, the couple/family and the business are all intertwined and affect each other. Understanding this complex dynamic from the outset will give them a better grasp of the issues they will face. 

Demystify limiting beliefs 

There are many myths surrounding spouses who work together. Some believe that to be successful, you must be totally compatible and always agree. In reality, diversity of opinion can enrich a relationship. The relationship will be much stronger if it is based on constant work, communication and compromise by both partners.  

Others believe that total independence and strict division of responsibilities will protect them from conflict. In fact, spouses who are in business together must be able to rely on each other for support and guidance. There can be healthy competition, without damaging the relationship or the business. Roles and responsibilities must be established that give each partner space, autonomy and appreciation.  

The idea of an ideal work-life balance is another widely held notion. But the day-to-day demands of running a business as a couple sometimes interfere with time for personal and family life. It's important to learn how to manage priorities and make choices.  

Conditions for success 

Along the way, conflicts may arise over issues such as communication, money, work, outside relationships, household chores, the children's education, intimacy, time together and independence. It's important to identify potential sources of disagreement and develop win-win solutions. 

Good communication is essential. You may be convinced that your spouse should know what you're thinking, but it's important to check your perceptions by communicating openly and clearly. Try to understand your partner's point of view before expressing your own, by being curious about them. This empathetic approach also makes it possible to appreciate your spouse's individual character traits. 

To be successful as a couple in business, you also need to know yourself and manage your emotions in order to respond more appropriately to challenges. Teamwork, leadership and management skills are also essential. Identifying your "why" (your underlying motivation for going into business), defining your individual, couple, family and business values and developing an action plan and budget should be part of your toolbox.  

Each couple has its own recipe  

In short, there are many models of entrepreneurial couples and more than one recipe for success. Each couple needs to identify its own formula based on the interests, skills and expectations of both partners to make the best choices for them. Going into business with your spouse can be challenging, but it can also be a source of personal and professional growth.

Going into business with your spouse can be challenging, but it can also be a source of personal and professional growth. By using the right tools and recognizing the myths and realities, couples who work together can build incredible strength and take the business to heights that would not have been possible without the input of both partners.

Article by: Melanie Lagacé

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