My wife and I are running our own company. Those who have never worked alongside their spouse are waiting for the next sentence, while those who have already pretty much know the story from here.
We are hopefully careful about who we choose for our life partner. If we believe in the value of the old concept of lifetime partnership and mainstream monogamy, we better be. Still, regardless of how much in love you are with your better half or how well you understand each other, nothing can prepare you for the fusion of your work and private life. The fact you and your partner are in sync when it comes to major life issues and are sensitive to each other's needs means exactly nothing in the workplace.
In my experience, couples who are best suited to work together are those that have a complimentary set of skills and characteristics, rather than matching ones. It helps if you can divide the work and responsibilities clearly and follow the arrangement.
All of those general things aside, working together and having your marriage survive each other's constant company, work related arguments over family dinners, and sleepless nights is no easy feat, especially if you are running your own business. We are currently trying to get a second company in six years off the ground together. It's difficult. There is plenty of stress, especially with a seasonal business like ours. Hours are long, days are short, and we can't escape work problems at any point during the day. Is it taking a toll on our life? Oh yes, it bloody is. We are missing a lot because of our decision to be our own bosses and this will not change very soon. It might get a bit better if the company survives and grows. If it fails and we end up in a financial bind and without work... well, we'll worry about that if it happens. There are many moments when it feels like all the frustrations are going to irreparably damage our relationship to the point where we will no longer be able to experience one another without having to look at our marriage through the prism of our business.
So, why would anyone do it? What makes perfectly rational people get involved in such a crazy scheme?
I’m not completely certain I can explain it, but in my case it has to do with the need to be involved professionally in something you believe in. It also has to do with the faith in the one you share your life with. Every beginning is difficult and rocky, but if you can make it work, the rewards are great as well. You get to share some of everyday highs and lows with the one you love and you get to spend more time with that person than majority of “normal” couples.
Also, you get to truly understand and appreciate the struggle you are both going through. Many business owners have a very hard time dealing with the fact their spouses or love interests simply have no way of knowing how overwhelming work related stress can be. I don’t have that problem. I know my wife understands what it’s like looking up at the ceiling at 3am, too worried to sleep even though you are dead tired. She’s right there next to me, looking up at the same ceiling. If you make it work. You get to celebrate together, knowing you made it work. Together.
We are blessed to be friends with many couples like us. Those that toil away together to the point of wanting to kill each other, only to pull themselves up and fight through all the drama until they succeed. It’s a powerful thing and one that requires special people – hard working, sometimes a bit crazy, but always passionate and full of life.
Bozidar Jukic, AKA The Restless Native, is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page.