My husband and I have been married for longer than we have worked together. Many of our family members, friends, and clients (many of whom have become our friends) have asked us, “how do you work together and stay married?’; “doesn’t working together and being married cause a lot of power struggles and other problems?”: “don’t you take your work home with you when you are married to your business partner?”, etc. We decided to answer these questions, and more, with this series of our life observations, including what works for us, what doesn’t work, and some other thoughts we have about working and living our lives together. One of the main features of our working relationship is that we have differing areas of expertise. My husband/business partner is a business person, with a Master’s degree in business. He operates the “business part” of our lives, both in the office and at home. I am a psychologist, with a Ph.D., who has never taken a business class in my life. I operate the consulting part of our business and spend a lot of my personal time using psychology to help people. It has worked well for us to have no overlap in our areas of expertise; that way, there is no way of “stepping on toes” or otherwise having conflicts based on being different people with the same education and training. This series of writings will address our dual approach to the same issue, so that our unique perspectives will become more obvious over time.
What Melissa said does not mean it doesn’t work for life and work partners to have the same expertise. Certainly we know attorneys (some of them our clients) who are married and of couples in other professions with the same training who work together just fine. The point is, we have one less point of friction than if we truly overlapped. For those who share expertise, it seems to help when one of the couple takes primary responsibility for some tasks and the other for other tasks so that each becomes more expert and responsible for certain aspects of their work together. That said, we have both learned much about each others’ domain of expertise over the years. Melissa has learned to be concerned about cash flow and pricing. I’ve learned much from her about seeing through the eyes of the jurors or other fact finders at the heart of the cases we handle. Overall, we believe a blending of perspectives helps us in our business and our clients in their cases. The key is learning how to build on each person’s unique strengths.