All of us have strengths and weaknesses; this is a fact of life regardless of whether we work with our spouse. It is crucial, in any long term relationship, to identify each spouse’s/business partner’s strengths and weaknesses early in the relationship, then capitalize on the strengths and minimize the weaknesses in ways that ultimately define the relationship. My spouse/business partner and I have a unified approach to handling work and personal details, but we also use a “divide and conquer” method when handling tasks that need to be performed. For example, one of us (me) likes to interview potential household workers, then act as the primary contact person for people who share a common interest, such as the landscaper, the housekeeper, and the painter/handyman. The other of us (my spouse/partner) possesses business acumen that I lack, such that it works well for him to handle work and household finances and computer related issues (which are never ending). In addition, if one spouse is more extroverted than the other (in our relationship, although my spouse/partner and I are both introverts, he is slightly less so than I), then anything that requires an outgoing personality will be accomplished more smoothly than if the introvert handles it. Knowing what you are good at doing and what the other person is good at doing will go a long way to maintaining a harmonious relationship at home and at the office.
Some of the separation of duties are obvious and easy to identify early on in a work situation or at a personal level. And, this point is true when working with friends, spouse, or even lesser known acquaintances in any partnership arrangement. Seeking to determine who should have the primary responsibility for various tasks required to make work or life happen is important. It not only draws on the education, training, or skills of the partners, but also temperament, like the patience required for some tasks. I do not enjoy calling “customer service” departments to handle issues over the phone. But, Melissa has absolutely no patience for this. Sometimes assigning responsibility for a task requires some sort of formalization. For example, in our trial consulting business, she is the majority partner. She is the one clients rely upon for her expertise in the psychology of human decision making. As such, we incorporated the business with her as majority shareholder (and, for some purposes, have qualified as a minority business entity as a result). But, back to the point, this meant that she is the primary card holder for various accounts, like credit cards. So, because handling financial issues falls to me, we had to formalize this responsibility by sending letters to have me listed as the authorized account manager in order for me to be able to perform this function. (As a humorous aside, as a result of doing this, one credit card company has subsequently been sending solicitations for additional cards to “Oktohandle Fauss” after being told it was okay for me to handle that account.)
So, find the separation of powers, recognize the lines of demarcation, and coordinate, don’t duplicate, your efforts. Crossing the lines will remind you why you drew them in the first place.
P.S., She’s right, the computer and technical issues never go away. But, that’s the topic of other posts.