Partners in Business and Marriage

By Nina Kaufman, Esq.

What if your partner is also your . . . partner?

The Memphis Daily News on Correale Builders & Realtors in Germantown, Tennessee.  Not an unusual business, but for the fact that the business owners are both married to the job . . . and married to each other.  As the Correales admitted:

. . . [W]orking side by side certainly has its moments. But they both said their similar backgrounds – they’re Italian and come from big families – plays a part in helping them manage those working moments.

“When we have a disagreement,” Angela said, “We just agree to disagree and we kind of forget it and we move on. That’s kind of the way we operate.”

What are some of the danger zones that marital/business combo partners should be aware of?

  • Letting employees come between you.  Joan Lloyd shares the problem of a business owner whose husband has given a female employee so much latitude, that the employee basically runs the show.  The company is suffering greatly.
  • Not having a written partnership agreement.  It’s tempting to say it’s not necessary because of the intimate relationship you share.  But that’s precisely the reason that you need one even more: you have a significant personal relationship to preserve.  In addition, should your personal relationship not work out, you want to be crystal clear about what happens to the business.
  • Taking the other partner for granted.  It’s so tempting, because they’re always there.  However, that attitude will breed resentment and contempt, harming both your business and your personal relationship.
  • Carving out “just you” time.  Normally, pillow talk between couples is a way for them to share information about the time they’ve spent apart.  But if you’ve spent the entire day working together, you’ll need a break.  Set parameters on when it’s okay (and not) to talk about work when at home.
  • Carving out time for “just you”.  Get away from your partner on occasion.  Having separate interests is very healthy.  They can provide the refreshing break you need to rejuvenate your enthusiasm in the company.
  • Bringing your personal lives into the company.  Public displays of affection, personal conversations or other signs of intimacy — like arguments over who doesn’t clean up around the house — can embarrass or alienate employees or customers.  What happens at home, stays at home.

Want to learn more about Kaufman Business Law? This is the video to watch.