How Our Online Business Brought My Wife And I Closer Together

When my wife and I decided to start our own online business together, many people advised us against the idea.

“You’ll fight all the time!”
“Business and marriage don’t mix!”
“Your business will drive you two apart”
“You and your wife need time to yourselves”

The above quotes were just a sampling of some of the many warnings we were given. But despite all of the contrary opinions, we saw our joint online business venture as a rare opportunity to create something special that we could share. We knew that we had an excellent chance of succeeding because our interests were intimately intertwined. Of all of the people to work with, why not work with someone whom you love and trust implicitly?

relationship

Photo By Nattu

Don’t get me wrong, we had more than our fair share of issues, but I think that ultimately, our online business improved our relationship. While I don’t advise that every couple start a business together, I sincerely believe that our online wedding linens business strengthened the bonds of our marriage in the following ways.

We Learned To Appreciate Each Other

If we never formed our business, I would still be unaware of some of my wife’s incredible abilities. I was pleasantly surprised by her many hidden talents just by observing her in different business situations. For example, during the course of running our online store, I discovered that my wife was damn good at dealing with customers. Even though a customer might be yelling, screaming, hootin’ and hollering, she would never lose her cool.

I can’t really describe exactly how she does it, but she just has this way of getting to the root of the customer’s issue and resolving it effortlessly and painlessly. I must say that I learned a lot about customer service simply by watching her in action.

I’ll also admit that seeing her in customer service situations made me even more attracted to her. If you ever speak to her on the phone or in person as a customer, she’ll come across as the sweetest person you’ve ever met in your life. In real life, she is really sweet too, but sometimes I wish she treated me more like a customer on a day to day basis:)

I also discovered that my wife was far more crafty and creative than I had ever imagined. Off the top of her head, she would come up with craft ideas and innovative ways to draw customers into the store.

I remember one lazy saturday afternoon when she just decided to create this craft.

hanky angel

Isn’t it cool? And it was made with the products that we sell in our store. When I saw her make this, I immediately had to give her a hug because I was so proud of having such a talented and creative wife.

We Discovered Our Strengths and Weaknesses

One of the reasons our online store works so well is that my wife and I complement each other. My strengths are with computers, programming and technical matters. My wife’s strengths lie in knowing what our customers want to buy and getting them in the door.

My greatest weakness is that I’m impatient and neurotic when it comes to the business. When things don’t go as planned, I have this tendency to lose focus and my brain goes into doom and gloom mode.

“Crap! We haven’t had any orders at all today. Is the website down? Is there a new competitor that we don’t know about?”

“Did someone say something bad about our store? Where are all the customers?”

“It’s been slow now for 3 straight days. Is this the end? Is this store ever going to succeed?”

“Crap, it’s been 5 days now of slow business. It’s game over man. Game over!”

You can imagine what my wife had to deal with on a day to day basis. But she never ever slapped me, not even once! It was her job to make sure that I didn’t lose my mental health on slow business days.

My responsibility was to keep my wife on track. One of her weaknesses was that she would often get bogged down with little details and not know how to make progress. It was my job to keep her focused on the big picture and have her concentrate on things that would carry the greatest impact on the top line.

We Learned How To Comfort Each Other

In the process of discovering each other’s strengths and weaknesses, we also learned how to comfort each other. Whenever I went on one of my neurotic rampages, my wife would pull up the excel spreadsheet and reassure me that the business was doing just fine. Sometimes she would even go to great lengths to create graphs and charts that put our numbers in a positive light. She had this way of making me feel as though everything was going to be okay.

By the same token, I was there for her whenever she wanted to vent her frustrations. My job was easy. All I had to do was sit there and listen without saying a word and she would naturally feel better. Sometimes I would give her a big suffocating hug. Just knowing that we were there for each other made everything more manageable.

We Learned How To Make Decisions Together

I full on admit that I’m extremely stubborn…but so is my wife. When you put 2 individuals together as stubborn as my wife and I, it can be extremely difficult to make any sort of decisions at all. Working together really forced us to find innovative ways to get things done.

Decisions were made by assigning decision making power to the individual with the most knowledge on the subject. While this strategy seemed fundamentally sound, in practice my wife and I always thought that we knew more than each other on practically every topic. We were basically at a standstill on most decisions. But for the sake of the business, we forced ourselves to compromise.

For example, we argued constantly on how to set some of our store policies. Do we accept returns? Should we increase shipping prices or offer free shipping to entice customers to buy? For these two particular issues, we ended up compromising by offering a very limited return policy and free shipping after a certain amount was purchased.

I learned when to back down and when to fight. For the issues that I was passionate about, I fought hard and my wife would eventually defer to me. When my wife was adamant about a particular issue, I would defer the decision to her. For issues that we couldn’t agree upon, we would compromise. Basically, we learned how to read each other’s signals and to prioritize what was worth arguing about. We learned how and when to pick our battles.

We Both Shared A Sense Of Accomplishment

Perhaps the best aspect of starting our business together was the shared sense of accomplishment. Starting a business with your wife is like having a child together. You have to go through great lengths and work extremely hard to nurture it, but in the end the rewards far outweigh the pain.

Even today, we often look back and marvel at what we’ve created in the past couple of years. It’s comforting to know that no matter what, we’ll always have this experience together and no one can take that away from us.

Should You Work With Your Spouse?

My general philosophy is that working together with your spouse will effectively magnify your relationship. If you and your spouse get along really well, working together will make your relationship stronger. However, if you tend to fight all of the time, then having a business together will only make things worse. Only you can truly know whether things will work out. But if you can make it work, it’s well worth the time.

Further Reading

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13 thoughts on “How Our Online Business Brought My Wife And I Closer Together”

  1. When I was unemployed part of last year, I helped out my partner with his business. I know that is dramatically different than running a business together though. Unfortunately it was very stressful due to the fact that I need a full-time job so money was an issue. His business was having a dry-spell so that compounded the stress level.

    We are in a different stage in our relationship now though and have come a long way since last year so I think we can handle that type of pressure much better now, even run a business together, but there would have to be some boundaries.

    Before reading this post, I thought it was impossible though couples have been doing this long before the industrial revolution.

  2. Do you guys “talk shop” all the time? My husband and I started a *very* small online thing while we both worked full time at our regular jobs. When I think back on that time I feel like all we talked about was the business.

    But other than that I really liked working with him. It was fun.

  3. Hi Ashley,

    Yes, we used to full on talk shop all of the time, but only for the first year or so until things started running more smoothly. We actually realized that we were doing this and made a conscious effort to stop, especially when we went out to dinner together. Now, all we talk about are baby matters:) What’s funny is that sometimes we don’t realize that we are talking to each other like babies:)

    Hi Carla,

    My wife and I had the luxury of starting our business when we didn’t really need the money. I full on understand how stressful things can be when you are depending on the income from your business. I’m not quite sure how things would have turned out for us had we been in your situation. I sincerely hope things work out for green and chic! How about a shameless plug? Loyal readers, I encourage everyone to check out Carla’s store at greenandchic.com!

  4. @ Steve – that is so very sweet of you! Thank you so much. :)

  5. I loved reading this Steve. My boyfriend and I sometimes think up business ideas and we are probably going to go ahead with one of them sooner or later. I loved how you kept each other going, I think that’s how it’s supposed to work. :)

    Way to go you two! :D

  6. loved reading this…and it is my first time here!

    off to book mark and send my hubby your way :)

  7. I agree with the above – I loved reading this! We work together, and have been for about 5 years now. I think it is important to compliment each other – my weaknesses are his strengths and vice versa. This leads to also understanding each other’s boundaries. I handle corporate operations while he handles on-site work. In the beginning, we used to fight because we tried to “meddle” with the other person’s work. But, we’ve found that we can support each other better, when we can have some amount of independence and control.

    We talk shop all day and all night. And that’s ok with us. We also talk all day and night about our children, bills, who’s cooking the bird for Thanksgiving, etc…I think it just works for us to incorporate the business fully into our lives. It’s such a big chunk of who we are. When we tried to *not* talk about the business, one night at dinner, we found ourselves very disoriented! We ended up buying this product called Table Topies – Couples Edition (I totally do not work for this company, by the way) and it really helped us remember why we love each other as a spouse.

    Looking forward to more posts!

  8. Hi Jean,

    Thanks for the kind comments! I always take the time to look at the websites of those who make comments and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that you are based in Gaithersburg, MD! I grew up in Potomac, MD which is only about 15 minutes away. In fact, I think I even recognize your building. Coincidences like this are one of the reasons I love blogging.

    It looks like you and your husband Randolph run a successful business out there.. Maybe I’ll pop on by next time I’m visiting my parents. Thanks again for the kind words

  9. Hi Nathalie,

    I’ve been reading your blog for the past month so it makes me extremely happy to see that you’ve decided to stop on by! No doubt about it. I love working with my wife and I hope things work out for your future business as well!

    Hi Mizfit,

    By all means, please stop back whenever you want. I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

  10. I’ve always been a believer in the idea that couples who do things together grow closer to each other. After all, how else do you really get to know the person you live with if not through shared projects and goals!

    Great post!

  11. So much of what you wrote “rang a bell”! I too work with my partner and get those comments all the time about fighting etc – 5 years later and we work extremely well together! Having separate responsibilities works really well… and then you can feed off each other when needed.

    It’s like you said – each has strengths + weaknesses – and by working together I know my man now understands me more!

  12. Hi Manz,

    Glad to hear that your business has worked out with your spouse! In my opinion, there’s no better person to work with. Happy holidays!

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