We work together, eat together, drive together, cry together, play cards at lunch together, and eat dairy-free ice cream together. That's a lot of togetherness.
When we first started out working together it was a little rough. We hadn't quite figured out how to balance our togetherness. There's a great quote that sums up what the first months of starting Willow looked like, and it goes like this, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." - Charles Dickens. I'm fairly sure Charles wasn't talking about how to work with your spouse, but it makes sense to me.
Although the first few months of business were rough, Emily and I have finally found our stride and have perfected working together. We are never upset at one another, our work flow is seamless, and our marriage is basically the videography version of Chip and Joanna Gaines.
Ha. Ha. Ha.
If you couldn't tell, that was sarcasm. BUT. We really are getting loads better at finding the balance at being a husband and wife working duo. In two separate sections below I'm going to share thoughts on why working with your spouse can be challenging, and more importantly, why working with your spouse is the best thing in the whole wide world
Patience, Balance, and lots of Grace
Patience. This is something I wish I had 100lbs more of every day. Working with your spouse, to us, means you're not just working with a co-worker - you're working with your best friend and love of your life. So when you get frustrated over a small work detail, you can't send a passive aggressive email to them like you would to Steve in accounting (sorry Steve). Why? Because you eat, breath, and sleep with this person and keeping harmony in your marriage is more important than winning a work argument.
I had to learn this fact early on. For the past 2-3 years I've worked in marketing agencies and the cultures I worked in were pretty straightforward with giving feedback and criticism. However, early on when I tried using the same tone and critique style with Emily during peer reviews for one of her films, she was hurt on how I gave her feedback. To me, I was just being honest and straightforward, but to her I was be rash and hard on her. What I forgot was that I was treating her like a co-worker and not my wife. Patience is key in any relationship, and especially one that also owns a business.
Balance. We hardly ever talk about work over lunch or past 5:00 p.m. In the beginning I wanted to brainstorm, discuss, and work through business ideas at all hours of the day, but I realized that having balance in our marriage is much more important than making sure my revolutionary marketing idea HAD to be shared right then and there (that's what iPhone notes are for). So now, for Emily's sanity, we schedule times where we can delve into new ideas and think of tangible ways to carry them out, rather than spewing out every idea that comes to my mind. Classic extrovert, am I right?
Grace. We mess up all the time. Like, all the time. I am constantly leaving my work stuff around the house, forgetting to post on Instagram, the list goes on. Emily doesn't forget things. Ha, just kidding she does I just can't think of anything right now. It's tough to figure out a work life balance when your work is literally mingled with your life. Feelings get hurt, fuses run short, but having grace for one another at the end of the day is key to running a successful business AND a healthy marriage.
Why I Love Working With My Wife
Y'all, I could write seven blogs on why I love working with my wife so much, and really why working with your spouse is such a huge blessing. Here's a few reasons just to start: you have a constant supporter, you never have to eat lunch alone, celebrating the wins are that much bigger, and taking the losses are not as bad because you have someone to lean on.
Whenever Emily and I go through a tough season we are constantly coming together to lean on Jesus for comfort. Being able to come together like that is unlike any relationship I've ever experienced. Knowing that we both have constant support to fight our battles is the most comforting feeling in the world, and in business it looks the exact same. If we have a down month we can come together and trust the Lord that everything will be ok. When we're not feeling great about our work we have one another to remind one another of grace. That kind of mutual support is so important in a spouse-run business.
Someone recently asked Emily and I for marriage advice. While Emily was thinking of something thoughtful I spat out the first (and honest) thing that came to my head, "Don't get married and immediately start a business." This was a half truth. It was complete madness trying to figure out starting a business while also starting a marriage, but I wouldn't change our decision for the world. We have learned so much during our time with Willow and have been pushed to our absolute limits in areas of life I didn't even know existed, but we did it. We're here. We're running a business and we're not drowning. So if you're married and want to start a business with your spouse, do it. It's changed our lives forever.