Making Money With Your Honey: Is It A Good Idea To Work With Your Man?
I tuned in for a recent episode of “Chrissy and Mr. Jones” and wasn’t too surprised to see that the show picked up where “Love and Hip Hop” left off with Chrissy once again demanding that Jim make their business partnership official on paper for his clothing line “Protocol.” It’s no surprise that for this round of reality, Chrissy continued with her self-designated role as creative consultant as she did on “Love and Hip-Hop” offering ideas and playing Jim’s design consultant. But Jim is hesitant to add Chrissy to the Protocol payroll and rightfully so. Just because you get along well personally doesn’t mean you share the same business sense. Your romantic partner may not transition well into your business partner.
It can be difficult to separate business from the bedroom when your partner is also your colleague. Before you start signing any legal letter head and making it official, you may need to ask yourself several questions:
1. Do you share similar work styles?
Are you a morning person while he works into the wee hours of night? Do you send very detailed e-mails and follow up on meetings while he never confirms anything until mere minutes before? In some instances opposites attract and if you both are comfortable with picking up each other’s slack this could be an ideal situation. It really depends on your roles within the business. Maybe he’s the ideas and networking person, while you’re better with the paperwork and other concrete details. What matters most is clear communication to avoid conflict.
2. Are you comfortable with not being in charge?
Power plays in business are one of the biggest reasons why relationships between couples who work together unravel. When Vera Wang and husband and longtime business partner Arthur Becker split, rumors flew that after coming from a position as a CEO for a tech firm he wanted out after beginning to feel like he was simply “Mr. Wang.” When partners don’t feel as equals in a business or one works as a subordinate, it’s a tricky situation to navigate. Partners may not feel comfortable taking orders or the partner in the higher position may be softer on someone they are romantically involved with which can breed tension among other workers.
It can also be a disadvantage from a financial point of view. In her article “Tips for Married Workers Whom Work Together,” Jennifer Wagner stated that when she and her husband worked for the same company their employer knew exactly how much income they brought in as a household. Because her husband was the breadwinner, Wagner was often unfairly looked over for promotions and bonuses because their employer assumed she was taken care of.
3. Are you latching onto to your partner’s dream because you aren’t sure of your own?
There’s a part of me that feels that Chrissy just seemed so unsure of her place in life besides being Jim’s old lady. It was almost as if she was trying to attach herself to his projects in order to define her own goals. So often I’ve seen women with no sense of self try to use their partner’s goals to help “inspire” where they see themselves professionally as well. In the long run you won’t be happy living someone else’s dream. There are too many goals waiting to be pursued for you to feel you have to ride your partner’s coat tails to the top.
4. Do you or your partner work each other’s nerves when together for too long?
One of the great things about working at separate jobs is all of the great gossip you get to exchange on the commute home or all of the interesting stories you can share from your vastly different professions. A bulk of my conversations with my partner occur when I come home on an inspirational high from all of the young lives I’m helping to change or he’s excited from all of the different products and services his company is offering or his customer’s different homes. If you’re working together, especially in the same department all of those conversations will be a lot less colorful. You have to also consider that you’ll be seeing each other more often than usual and too much face time for some couples can equal a worked nerve.
5. Can you separate your personal issues from your professional responsibilities?
Whether you want to rip his clothes off or rip his head off you shouldn’t be making your personal affairs a work activity. If you find it difficult to to get the job done when there are unresolved relationship issues lingering from your life at home, you may need to seek other employment. Handling personal issues at work is unprofessional as well as distracting to you as well as those who have to work with you.
6. Will working together harm your employment in any way?
If you’re a fan of “The Office” you may be familiar with the staff’s hilarious dealings with Toby, the HR rep who was asked to create a “love contract” every time someone grabbed for a stapler at the same time. Whether you’re casually seeing someone or meet the man you’re going to marry at work, it’s important to educate yourself on your organization’s policies when it comes to dating; in fact some companies seriously look down on office romances. The tricky thing about on the clock courtships is that they easily get messy. Messy meaning in the event of a break up you still have to work closely with someone who makes you want to throw a stapler at every time you see them. Things can get especially awkward when dating someone who supervises you in any way or is in charge of your performance review or promotion. When it comes to dating a colleague, make sure there is no way that the romance for better or for worse could have your money looking funny.
7. Are you legally protected in case your love doesn’t last as long as your contract?
It’s too easy to skim over the details when going into business with a boyfriend or girlfriend since you may be blinded by the best case scenario and fail to plan for the worst. Unfortunately if the worst happens and by the time you finally read through the fine print to take what you’re entitled to you could discover that your ideas and intellectual property aren’t protected or you won’t be compensated fairly. Don’t allow love to keep you from protecting yourself legally; be clear about how you will be compensated and how much ownership you have within the venture or product you co-create.
8. Will a layoff affect the whole family?
One of the big cons involved when you and your partner work for the same company is that when a massive layoff occurs or the business goes under both of you could end up unemployed with no benefits. In fact, my own parents used to work at the same organization and decided that it would be best to work for different companies once they had children. This way in the event that one person is laid off, the other can still provide insurance and a steady income.
Would you ever go into business with someone you were dating?
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog Bullets and Blessings .
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