My husband and I are, in most ways, polar opposites.
I am organized, with a color-coordinated planner and zero unread emails in my inbox, while he writes down only work items that cannot be neglected and has literally thousands of unread emails in his inbox.
If he is alone with the children for an entire day, he will take them outside for hours, build forts and LEGO catapults, read a million books and discuss science and math, but he will let the dishes pile up in the sink until they are overflowing.
We are different people, and that is (for the most part) not a problem.
However, my husband and I have a unique circumstance that many partners do not share – we work and run a business together.
The fact that we have very different personalities is the exact reason we work so well together in business. He is extroverted, likes to be out meeting people, drumming up business and arguing with his voice (we are attorneys, and he is the “outside guy” taking depositions and conducting trials). I am introverted and much prefer to stay inside doing what I do best, researching and writing (and so I have found happiness being the “inside gal”).
As a general rule, things run smoothly, and we can work in unison and harmony, which has helped us achieve success over the past ten years of running our business with and alongside one another.
However, I am somewhat of a control freak when it comes to the quality of my work product. This personality trait has enabled me to become successful, but it has also burdened me with undue anxiety and responsibility. (I was the kid doing all of the work in the group project – you know how that story goes).
A typical work disagreement with my husband goes something like this:
Me: “Did you file the document in the [insert name here] case?”
Him: “No, but I will.”
Me: “It’s due Friday.”
Him: “Today is Tuesday.”
Me: “Do you have it written down?”
Him: “Please stop micromanaging me.”
Prior to our having children, this struggle was not as pronounced.
I have always been “Type-A,” but having children vaulted me into the next stratosphere of micromanagement. Having a husband who is extremely laid back has lent itself to my micromanaging him in not only our personal life but also our work life. I often joke that I have three children – one girl, one boy, and one man-child.
But, all jokes aside, this kind of behavior in a relationship breeds resentment on both ends. I have had to control my urges to pester him, and rather trust in his own responsibility and judgment, which he has proven time and time again to have in spades.
A partnership can be tricky. My husband and I are balancing our relationship as not only a husband/father and wife/mother but also as partners in a growing business. For all of these relationships to thrive, we have to learn to respect that we are different. One of the reasons I married him is because he is different – he balances my anxiety with his relaxation. In that same vein, I have to respect that he works differently than I do. If we harbor resentment toward one another, then our business will suffer, and in turn, so will our marriage.
My husband is not my child.
While he might do things that drive me bananas, my insistence on parenting him serves to only alienate him. Yes, every individual has room for improvement. Yes, many subjects require conversations, which are often awkward and hard. But I have learned over these past ten years of not only being married to my husband but also being his business partner, that some battles are not worth fighting. These battles, the ones over minutiae, are the types of battles that can cause irreparable rips in the fabric of our relationships.
I am learning to trust that my husband is a responsible adult, and yes, he would survive if not for me. We are a team in life and in business. I am not his parent. In acknowledging and internalizing this very valuable lesson, I have found that our relationship, both in a personal and professional capacity, has been given the space to thrive.