Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Spouses and Work

People have hilarious reactions when they find out that I work with my spouse.  Generally I hear some variant of, "Oh, I could NEVER do that!"

It occurred to me this weekend that not only do BJ and I work together (doing rocket science), my sister and her husband work for my mom and HER husband (doing the weddings), and my brother and his brand new wife work together, too (they're teachers at the same high school)!

I wonder what the odds of that are?

But it makes sense...  My mom's parents worked together (making fire nozzles).  BJ's grandparents worked together (building things, owning apartments).  I would guess that the farther back you go in a family, the more co-employed couples you would find.

Does anyone know how to find out how many married couples in the U.S. are co-employed, or how one would calculate the odds of three siblings all being co-employed at different occupations?  I mean, it would make sense if we all worked for the same family business, but that's not the case.

I wonder what it says about us, as individuals, that we've all sought out marriages and jobs where we CAN work with our spouse.  Maybe we're all just gluttons for punishment?  Hahaha...


Kim Curry said...

I think some of it depends on the power structure and the workplace environment.

It sounds to me like you and your siblings all work in small businesses, where the spouses are all partners rather than subordinates. I've seen it work when the married couple co-manage the business. Often there is some splitting of the roles, but it's negotiated much like a marriage.

Where I have seen problems has been with an imbalanced power structure, where one spouse is managing the other spouse. In a larger group, that definitely leaves open the notion of favoritism and unequal treatment.

Unfortunately, I was in that situation for a while at our campus jobs. I was a Captain in the cafeteria, and he was just one of the employees on my shift. It was not a good situation. There were behaviors that I could tolerate, and sometimes even appreciate, in a spouse that were not appropriate for a subordinate. And I don't even ean the physical relationship!

For example: At home, I could tolerate him taking his time, not responding immediately to a request. In the middle of managing the lunchtime rush, I could not.

Denna said...

The power structure is key. When you run a business together, you have to decide who does what jobs, and then learn to stay out of the other's areas of authority. The best part of working with your spouse is having the same work schedules (Jim and I would never see each other if he had a 9 to 5 job!) and being able to talk to each other about work--and the other spouse knows what you're talking about. They know all the other people involved as much as you do, and they understand the workplace dynamics and all.
I always liked Jim's comment when somebody asked him how it was working with his wife every day and he answered "Some days we're glad it's a big building!" :)
If two headstrong, firstborn Leos can work together anybody can do it!!

Amy Austin said...

I love what Jim says about it being a big building. That's so cute.

We do fine as long as we stick to our own responsibilities, but it took us a couple of years of butting heads before we figured out where to draw those boundaries. And BJ is the boss at work, which means I'm the boss at home. LOL

mwiesjahn said...

That is really interesting. Trey's parents worked together AND his grandparents worked together! It must have been in our blood to seek each other out!