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Does working with your spouse work for you?
Kanchana Banerjee
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April 17, 2008

Reena (29) and Shekhar Gupta (32) run a placement agency in Mumbai. Both gave up their respective jobs to start their own venture. Today nearly 5 years later, Reena is considering moving out of the business partnership and working elsewhere. Thankfully she isn't contemplating moving out of her marriage.

"If I don't move out of the office I don't think our marriage will survive. We eat, talk, sleep and dream our work. Both of us are always talking about office and the issues at the workplace. Work has pervaded all aspects of our life and there isn't any thing else. It is driving me mad," she says.

Welcome to the life of couples who don't just live together but also work together. It is not uncommon to see couples starting a business together or working together in the same office as often office romances culminate into matrimony.

So is it a good idea to have your significant other in the same office space? Opinion is as diverse as it can be. Some say it is a boon, given the fact the working hours are long and commuting time even longer. They are of the opinion that it is good if your better half is your colleague as you get to spend more time. But the other side of the argument is just as vociferous.

There are certain professions where it helps if the partners are together at work, like in the medical profession, media, advertising, film making and etc. In professions like these where work hours are long and not defined, it helps if your spouse is also your colleague as then he/ she would understand the pressure and the demands of the job.

Ronnie and Suman (28) work for a TV serial making company in Mumbai. They met at work, fell in love and tied the knot. Both of them say in unison, "If we didn't work together we would have never seen each other. We work for the same production house and it is great fun to be together. Even if it gets really late in the night we don't need to worry about a partner waiting at home. So it works well for us."

Abhijit (30) and Rita (25) work at a BPO in Hyderabad. They aren't married yet and are living together and they work together. Rita says, "Cupid struck in one of the late night shifts. And we do plan to get married soon and we don't have any qualms about working together. Our work hours are long and tedious. It helps if we are together."

While this might be fine with younger couples, the way ahead isn't always as rosy. Is there something as too much time together and no breathing space?

Counsellors are of the opinion that for a relationship to mature and grow it is vital that partners spend time together and also apart. Does this sound contradictory? That to be together one needs to be apart? It is a fact nonetheless.

One of the most common traps that couples fall into is being together 24X7. One person, no matter how loving, supportive or understanding, can't possibly meet all your needs. Since time immemorial men have needed their group to bond. Earlier they went hunting together; today they watch cricket, wrestling matches or hang out at the bar.

And women had their gathering group; which today is the girly gang going for shopping sprees. So if you are one of those who firmly state that you don't want to work with your significant other, there isn't any kink in the relationship.

If you are sharing the office space with your significant other, there are certain things you need to keep in mind:

Have your own circle of friends
Don't be stuck to each other like conjoined twins at work. Give your partner and yourself a breather. Spend time chatting with your own circle of friends and allow your partner to do the same. You'll have a lot more to talk about with each other at the end of the day.

Keep your fights at home
Every relationship has its share of fights and quirks. Do everyone a favour and keep them at home. Don't wash your dirty linen at the office. Believe me nobody wants to know about your skirmishes. You'll end up looking very silly and unprofessional if you fight at work.

Leave your office at the door
When the day is over, leave your office at the office. Don't carry it back home. This is easier said than done but you need to work at it. A relationship needs time and effort. You have to work at making your relationship grow. And it wouldn't do either of you any good if you keep discussing work all the time.

Reena and Shekhar realised that work was getting in way of their marriage. Shekhar says, "When Reena mentioned that she didn't want to work with me I felt betrayed but then I realised that she had a valid point. We were always talking work and there wasn't anything else between us. Now that she works in another company things are better."

So if you feel that you can't stop work from interfering with your relationship don't start working together.

Often couples, who start a venture, work together as both share a common dream and it also makes better money sense. When you have a good talent at home why hire someone from outside? But both need to understand and evaluate each others capabilities before taking the plunge together.

A successful marriage doesn't mean a successful business relationship. You have to work doubly hard to ensure that your one doesn't get in way of the other.

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