Road Stories on how Married Couples go into Business Together Lesson #2

When I was in my corporate job, April and I had always joked about how dangerous working together would be. We enjoyed talking about the similarities between our jobs, particularly in how we were both helping people understand what makes their customers and business tick, but also felt good about being able to go back to our own worlds the next day. Partners, but masters of our own spheres.

Then working together finally started to make too much sense to ignore. I had already made the transition out of a corporate role and to the consultant side, and why have two competing consulting careers when you can join forces and make it even greater?

I read the blogs out there and listened to other couples that worked together. It was good to know I was not alone – here are a couple of articles that talk about this condition, which could be listed in the DSM-5.

I’m going with this advice, though:  “Get used to the fact that whoever is joining the other person’s company is initially lower on the totem pole. However, once you get to the other side it’s better than what you were doing before and you would never go back. Once you find your stride and each has their own role and authority, it’s great!”

What they don’t tell you as much is what it’s like for a man to go to work for his wife. I now believe this is God’s sense of humor as payback to men for not having to bear children.  

I responded to a question from my wife-boss the other night. Right after I joined the company, her logistics expert was scheduled to go on a three-week absence to the Philippines. So guess who needed to learn her role pronto, to patch us through an upcoming project, which fell during that timeframe. After another long day of absorbing a massive amount of details and then getting bombarded with ten more items on my to-do list (that I really don’t know when will get done, but they are captured, by golly), I was less than passionate and a bit numb.

She asked, “are you feeling resentful about something?” I said, “no, I just feel a little emasculated, is all.”

All those ideas of grandeur about my involvement in the business had been reduced to a reality of me being her administrative support. Can I get you some coffee? Yes, all your research materials will be printed out and put in piles and be ready for you. Yes, I will ensure that there is a bag of markers and post-its with at least four different colors of each in your car tomorrow morning. These are all important tasks, don’t get me wrong. April’s clients are spoiled by the level of detail that she brings to projects. It’s just that they weren’t what I had in mind when I signed on…

There are great things in store for us, and I know it will evolve into separate management roles to do these new and exciting things. The transition period, though, is a bitch.

April’s perspective: Trust me - there’s nothing I want more than for Lloyd to start leading the business! But… we have competing priorities: he has to learn how we do the business, AND yes, we have to strategically craft the right role for him, but most importantly, we have stuff to get done! What better way to learn than by doing? Get on it, stop complaining, we have a business to run!

Lesson #2: Bring an apron, guys, if you want to join your wife’s business. Hide your man card in a safe spot in the garage.