I came across another article yesterday that read, and I’m paraphrasing here, ‘Big Important Family Lawyer-Dude Says Divorce Rates Will Rise Due to Coronavirus Lockdowns’.
I have to tell you guys that I feel like Jason and I have been preparing our marriage for this lockdown since he started working for Sage two years ago.
You know, when I first started this business the question I’d be asked most often was, “How’d you get into that anyway?” — Now the question I hear most often is, “So, what’s it like working with your husband?”, which has forced me to think a lot about what it’s like to work with my husband.
When people ask about my working relationship with Jason they’ll often contextualize the question with a follow-up comment like, “I could never do it” or “We’d fight all the time!” or “We can’t even build Ikea furniture together!”
Side note… Jason and I also cannot build Ikea furniture together. In fact, as I’m typing this we’re having an argument about how to properly install the door sweep on our new walk-in cooler (neither of us knows the answer but we’re arguing about it anyway… This is our life). That fact aside, working with Jason is mostly good. But while there are some major pros to working with your spouse there are also a few (annoying) cons. Most notably:
- I feel fully supported in my business which is a massive stress relief;
- It’s nice to talk about work with my S.O. and have him understand what I’m talking about; and
- I no longer have to miss my husband, he’s always around.
- Being with your S.O. all the time results in more arguments;
- I have to discuss business decisions with someone… I used to just do what I wanted; and
- I no longer have to miss my husband, he’s always around
First off, Jason and I are very different humans. Most notably, he’s a planner and likes to have every detail of every life occurrence locked in with no room for error – he hates it when plans change.
I, on the other hand, am used to and comfortable with a certain level of chaos… (none of which I create myself by waiting until we’ve planned the perfect execution for an upcoming event before I say the words ‘“but what if we –”).
Second, Jason assumes that some of my irritation can be fixed with snacks when, in reality, I have a very important point that he’s trying to invalidate by making it seem like the real issue here is the fact that I’m hungry and yes I’d like that granola bar, thank you!
Now what were we talking about?
Right, how I always keep my cool and Jay freaks out over nothing. Knowing these things about one another helped us flatten our learning curve a bit (see what I did there?). We’ve had to tweak and adjust over time but we’ve found that there have been three major factors which have helped us find our groove more quickly:
- We had to agree to become comfortable with arguing: This was especially hard for Jay because he can’t stand conflict. I, on the other hand, grew up in a house with four other girls and a brother who was the baby… conflict was just a natural part of daily life. My sisters and I did not hold back so when we were mad about something we said it. Communication might have been loud in our house but it was constant. Jay and I have learned that it’s best not to mince words with each other, we don’t have time for it. We say what we need to say, we discuss, we resolve, we move on.
- We have clear and distinct roles at home & work: We know what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are and we’ve assigned ourselves roles within the company (and at home) that play to those strengths. For example, I’m the kind of woman who finishes a project, gets excited about another idea and dives fully into the next idea before I clean up the last one. Which is just a roundabout way of saying that I’m a messy human. Jason is impeccably tidy and he can’t stand messes. He’s also had jobs in inventory management and warehousing… so naturally, he runs the warehouse. He also builds things, paints things, and fixes things. My job is to work with the clients, take care of the marketing, and sort out all of the behind-the-scenes running of the business. Lots of creative jobs where I can experiment and play.
- We have a mediator (and sometimes two or three of them): We are SO LUCKY to have a team who will often filter information between Jay and I. This limits the amount of contact we have with each other. In fact, we have one employee who’s entire job description is to bridge the gap between my job and Jason’s job… we call her our Ashley– I mean our Production Manager. If every home had an Ashley there’d be no talk of divorce rates rising, let me tell you. The Production Manager sits between the Creative Director role (me) and the Warehouse Manager role (Jason). So for example, I create the proposals for a client and Jason needs a packing list from said proposal in order to get ready for the event. Ashley is the person who goes through the proposal, asks me questions about the design, adds/removes items from the packing list and then prints the list for the warehouse. If Jay has questions he goes to see Ashley.
These three things have definitely helped to ease some tensions but we’re not delusional… conflict is a part of our daily lives: we have two (almost-teenage) daughters who are starting to deal with their own… things, we have Jason’s parents who live with us and whose schedules we have to take into account when planning our days, we have an hour-long drive to and from the office every day which provides so many opportunities for ‘“but what if we –” conversations… (Jason’s favourite), and we both have busy schedules and commitments outside of work which means that our weeks require meticulous planning and coordination (my favourite).
So to these “Big Important Family Lawyer-Dude-Types” and to all the couples struggling through this new dynamic I say this: spending an insane amount of time with your S.O. is going to result in more arguments… there’s no way around it; especially when you’re also trying to navigate a pandemic together (it’s worse than an Ikea build because we have no idea what it’s supposed to look like afterwards). But you can get through it! If you haven’t already done so, put some of my tricks to work:
First, accept that you’re going to argue WAY MORE than before… expect it… and then learn to get over things quickly cause ain’t nobody got time to be ticked off all day.
Second, define your roles. Seriously. Figure out who’s making the meals, who’s doing laundry, who does the dishes, who gets to choose the TV show… I kid you not… the more tasks you guys separate the better. You don’t have to take turns doing tasks either… you can legit just split tasks up based on skills… one of you always makes dinner the other always cleans the dishes. You can mix it up now and then but I’m telling you this will be life-changing.
Finally, if you can’t get your hands on an Ashley (please don’t go out and kidnap an Ashley… especially my Ashley, I need her) then put clear boundaries in place. Create space in your home, in your calendar, and even create some mental space that is for you and you alone. Block off work time where you’re not allowed to bug each other, set aside time to go for a run (or do something else alone) so that you’re not on top of each other 24/7, agree that you won’t discuss certain topics (like work) after dinner to be able to focus on family time.
These things will help but sometimes all of your systems break down and that’s ok too. When all else fails… try getting a snack.