Our marriage and SOHOSTORY have no clear separation. We are a husband-wife team just starting out and anyone who owns a small business can tell you that the first couple of years are the hardest and longest hours you will ever work. Marriage is hard enough but working with your spouse is even harder! This definitely rang true for us the past 6 weeks, which is one of the big reasons why we have not updated this blog in a while.
We have heard advice, horror stories, and the “don’t do it lecture” from married couples before and we are finding that some were right and some were wrong. I’ve personally learned that every couple and situations are different and doing things our way is not the wrong way. Here are some ways we've learned to do marriage well while (despite) owning a business together.
DISCLAIMER: I am in no way claiming myself to be an expert on marriage - I've only been married 2 years; I just know that this is what works for us right now.
Be ok with marriage and business being intertwined.
I have a really hard time with this for a couple of reasons: 1. We don’t have normal business hours. 2. I’ve read many articles that say to have clear hours and to set aside time when you don’t talk about business at all. That’s difficult for us at this stage in our business. And 3. We're together a lot so the line between "spouse" and "business partner" is very blurry.
I've come to realize that it's really all about priorities, priorities, priorities. We may not have clear cut hours and we may talk about work a lot, but this is for sure: God is first no matter what, marriage comes next, then family, and last is business.
You would think that being together all the time would make communication easier but it definitely does not. I always fall into the trap of, "We've been together all day. I don't need to tell my husband how I'm feeling - he should know." Actually, maybe that's a trap I lay for my husband that he falls into... Whichever it is, one thing's for sure: COMMUNICATION IS IMPORTANT.
Here are some great tips to keep an open line of communication on one of our favorite blogs, Today's Letters.
Set aside “me” time.
Hoyoung and I are terrible at this. Some weeks, we are literally together 24/7, maybe spending a total of 3 hours apart every ten days. We need to spend more time apart from each other so we try to schedule days to purposely spend away from each other. For us, this can get difficult sometimes because we also share one car between the two of us.
I know what you're thinking, I know it sounds crazy, but having one car actually gives us more freedom. There is such freedom in owning less, not being weighed down by your things. And although it can get annoying, it's been very doable for us to schedule time apart from each other because we are aware of each other's schedules via our shared Google calendar. Sharing a cloud-based calendar with your spouse is also another excellent add on to communication.
Date each other.
I know this sounds terribly cliche, dating your spouse, but we have learned that it really is important. Hoyoung and I are also pretty bad at this. Date nights sometimes start off with dinner but then we end it with grocery shopping or running errands. We don’t think there’s anything wrong with that - we both enjoy doing that together. Really, it’s about enjoying each other no matter what you’re doing.
Something we've found really refreshing for us is to get out of town for just one night. We recently took a weekend trip down to Waco and College Station and had a great time - it was simple, we packed light, did not have a busy itinerary, and we got to enjoy each other's company.
And, of course, we took some photos with our iPhones along the way in the cloudy weather in Waco, TX ...
...and back home, taking photos on the side of the OSR, in the rain.
Don't do it alone.
Having community around you is so important. Isolation just leads to trouble. We intentionally surround ourselves people that spur us on, encourage us, keep us accountable, and we return the favor.
We were so grateful to be able to spend some time with the Dave and Kelley Laws when we were in College Station. They are such a wonderful, warm, sweet couple and I am so excited to call them friends! They took some great photos of us. These are a couple of my favorite.
And Hoyoung took a couple of them.
Check out this lovely couple and their work at pineandpearl.com!
Marriage is tough and sometimes it seems like there are more bad days than there are good. It's messy but it's beautiful and I love it.