I get this question a lot...how in the world do you work with your spouse and stay married?? Well, Mark and I have a very unique situation. We literally spend almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week together. We work on RuffleButts together, we take care of Aubrey together, we renovate/build houses together, and we obviously live together. Most days I think he is the most amazing person I have ever met, a few other days, I want to kill him! So, where do we find that balance to make our marriage work? I'm not really sure. Our situation is unique, but if you are, for some crazy reason considering this path, then this is my attempt to share a few suggestions:
1. Be prepared for work to enter all areas (and times) of your daily life.
Discussions about websites or marketing plans over dinner are inevitable and even the occasional strategy debate at the grocery store will occur. Find a fair way to say "I don't really want to talk about work right now" that is acceptable to both parties, that will at least give you a time-out when absolutely needed.
2. Don't follow the typical gender roles.
There is no room for typical roles in this co-working world. All things with life and home must be shared with equal responsibility...or at least have a discussion where roles are mutually agreed. In our relationship, Mark does a majority of the laundry. This may not be typical, but neither is our relationship. And I probably do not tell him enough, but this is MAJORLY appreciated and not taken for granted.
3. Put the marriage before everything else on the list.
I must admit, this is probably the most difficult one for us. Although Mark is always my #1, it is tough to make him feel that way when I have a hungry child, a phone ringing, and a production deadline in front of me. If a business role is impeding on the marriage, schedule a "meeting" and find a different way to do it. Although work is work, sometimes the emotional "you make me feel like this when you do this" kind of conversation needs to happen.
4. Make rules.
This is another one that is on our "to-do" list, but I think is super important. Have a meeting, lay down the rules. Who does what, who has authority on certain decisions, and what are the playing rules? Schedule an actual meeting to lay these out, put them on paper to be clear, and fight fairly when something goes awry.
5. Relationship rules do not apply at work.
Maintain a professional attitude while at work. Your spouse is there for you when you are having a bad day. They even let you take it out on them a bit when necessary, but don't let this cross into work-time. And especially don't allow employees to witness unprofessional or unpleasant talk or attitude toward one another. You have to set the expectations of respect that will be emulated whether you like it or not.
6. This one should go without saying, but find some separation and schedule family-time.
Schedule dates. Take an occasional vacation with absolutely no work-talk. Realistically, there will be some work-talk during any down time, but try to set expectations and find a balance.
I am extremely blessed to have found my husband. He does it all...he is handy with pretty much anything; he manages the construction of our new house; helps tremendously at home (honestly does more than I do when it comes to chores); he is amazingly talented with his role in RuffleButts, and he is a loving father. We don't have a typical life or even close to typical roles. I seriously don't think there is another person that would be crazy enough to do this all with me, or the other way around!
Wow, where to begin! Blogs are kind of funny in the fact that they are just slightly like a reality show...as a reader, you almost feel as if you know the person. You have watched them through the ups and downs, successes and failures, wins and losses. The RuffleBlog has been a bit like this for me. I often just write away, thinking to myself that no one really reads these rambles, but on occasion I realize that I tell you guys more than I tell my closest friends...somehow it is just easier to type away.
So, for the most part you already know how thankful I am, not just in the simple sense, but truly grateful for the life God has given me. I am human, so yes, sometimes I forget to treasure each and every moment, but it is days like today, when I am surrounded by family, that I get to take it all in. Here are just a few on my list:
1) My family - since Mark and I work together and spend, literally, almost 24 hours a day in the same space, I guess you could say that our relationship is a bit out of the ordinary. As you can imagine with that scenario, sure there are moments I want to send him some place far away for the day, or even the week, but for the most part, I can't believe how lucky I am that we found each other. We had a crazy start (long story), but to have found someone who supports by stubbornness and entrepreneurial workaholic mind, that was one in a million! The fact that we get to share our journey, in life, with family, and in business, is such an enormous blessing. On top of that, we have family and friends that fill our life full of love. And of course Aubrey...I honestly did not know that you could feel this way about another human being. She is the light of my life and just a little miracle.
2) RuffleButts - I could go on and on here. First, I feel so blessed that God gave me my "this way" sign so early in life. I feel so incredibly blessed to do what I do, every single day. I love my job, my work-family, my customers, I just love RuffleButts! I know that I am in my right place, and that is such an incredible feeling of peace. I am grateful that RuffleButts has found enough success to spread the joy to others. I am grateful that God has given me the strength to endure the craziness that comes with starting and running a business. And I am so grateful for the support that we have received along the way. Our customers are beyond awesome!
3) Health - I do not take this for granted. As Layla Grace is still in our prayers every day, I am eternally grateful for the health of me and my family. I know this is a gift, and I do not forget this.
I hope you all had a fabulously special Thanksgiving day!