This Thursday is Jeff and I's One Year Anniversary and I thought it would be appropriate to write about our story so far in a way that can possibly help someone else. And the number one thing that God has been teaching us lately is how to work well together.
You see, Jeff and I have been working together (in the same department at work) for almost 3 years now, 8 months as friends, 6 months dating, 6 months engaged, and exactly a year now married and MAN.. have we learned a thing or two.
Working together is NOT easy and as grateful as I am for the opportunity, there are a few things that I have learned basically the hard way that can help with walking that oh-so-delicate line of spouse and co-worker. I promise it does get easier and it began to get easier for us the moment I started to put into action the tips I'm sharing with you below. It's a bit complex and detailed and some people might think I'm overdoing it all. But for those of you who work together, you know that any advice is welcome advice.
Browse the list and see what fits for you and your man. The most important thing is to never stop talking about what you want your marriage to look like, in and out of the office.
1. Acknowledge each other as married, but respect each other as co-workers
We tend to let our guards down with our man. But because guys are so task driven, they need us to put our best foot forward at work. This certainly doesn't mean that you can't be there for each other. You are best friends, confidants, the shoulder they lean on.. But make sure that your treating them with at least as much respect as you would another co-worker. It's easy for your other co-workers to get all the best parts of you and your spouse is left to only get the frustrated and worn-out bits. Remember to sometimes tuck your own feelings aside while at work and never be too afraid of showing favoritism that you overcompensate and treat your spouse harshly at work. They are supposed to be your favorite person, and everyone knows it!
2. Give each other some space and keep conversations at work about work
One of the first marriage books we were ever given was called His Brain Her Brain, and it went into detail about the differences between the male and female brain and how that relates to marriage. One thing that really helped me was the idea that women are natural multitaskers (especially in the brain) while most men need to focus on only one thing at a time. It's the same reason men and focus on their career and soar to new heights and a woman can manage an entire house-hold, the cooking, cleaning, children, schedules, finances, shopping, etc.. and carry on a totally different conversation at the same time.
So this means at work, I don't discuss what's for dinner, our gym schedule, upcoming trips, or any other sudden burst of inspiration I get without him initiating it first. And then I let him drive the conversation. Don't go visit his office whenever you feel like it. I try sending emails and calling on the phone first just like I would any other co-worker. That way he can focus on his work and not feel like all these details in our lives are simply distractions.
3. Spend Quality time together and leave work at work
No wife or husband wants to feel like they are just your co-worker outside of work. It's vital to our marriage that we learn to unplug from the duties and demands of the day and truly see the other person as our best friend, husband, lover, safe place and rest.
When Jeff and I were just dating, we went on a mini trip to Florida to see his parents, while back at work, we were in the middle of a seriously stressful situation. It was taking a toll on both of us, him more than anyone, and we decided that we needed to remove ourselves from that situation for a while, physically and mentally! The issue back at work all ended up better than we could have ever imagined on our own. Now we look back and laugh at how we actually used to worry about that. This tends to be harder for men to mentally unplug from problems. As wives, we should encourage (not nag) them to take off the worry and trust God with the results.
It's important to leave work at work. If your not really on a date, then give him a break and let him check his emails. Everything being on our phones makes unplugging a pretty difficult thing. But when it's official date-night time, make sure that work doesn't make it a party of 3.
4. Define and make clear the roles and responsibilities of each
When Jeff and I were sent on a video shoot to Michigan, we shot 9 interviews! (That's 9 interviews with 9 different people!) Oh and we did this in about 3 or so days. That's A LOT of work! When we got back, people would often ask us how we did it. I would say that we determined our roles and then stuck to them.
This particular story we were working on was Jeff's, so he was the producer and I filled in the rest. I let him give vision and I helped him figure out a way to make it happen. Another thing we decided was that he liked to be able to focus on lighting the interview set and making it look great. So I would talk to the people and keep them busy so he wouldn't have to feel responsible for that too.
No matter what field you're in, whether it's the every day tasks or a special project, determine what role each of you will fill and then also decided how you can help each other out in different situations. That way, you can get the job done and still like each other while you're doing it :)
5. Fill in each other's weaknesses and lend to each other your strengths
This is a truth in marriage that should be carried over into the work place. One thing about Jeff is that he can be rather blunt. While this is usually a great asset, when communicating with women it sometimes doesn't get you too far. Sometimes, he'll ask me to communicate something for him if he feels he wasn't able to get his point or heart across. Because I know him and I know his heart, I can properly communicate what it is he wants - similar to how we represent Christ to this earth.
I on the other hand, am not a very blunt person and have a hard time approaching people when I'm nervous. Jeff pushes me to be more forward and start conversations that I'm too afraid to start on my own. We also do a lot of writing, which can get really tedious. When we're writing articles, we often edit and proof read each other's articles before we submit them.
It's important to never point out their weaknesses as proof of their inability but instead, always approach it from your willingness to offer yourself and to help the other person when they need it. So instead of saying "You suck at this," you could say "I want you to succeed. Here's what I saw..."
6. Refuse to see the worst and choose to see the best
It's quite easy to allow all of the little imperfections that you see everyday affect how you see and treat your spouse at work. Just like you should do with your co-workers, CHOOSE to think, speak, and expect the best from your spouse until you have a chance to discuss it in private if something is wrong. I say "choose" because it is a choice. Our emotions may come and tell us things, but we ALWAYS have a choice as to how we will handle every situation with every person that we encounter.. including our spouse.
This is something that I am definitely still working on myself!
If Jeff says something to me that sounds harsh, or gives me a look like he's annoyed at me, or seems to ignore me in front of other people, I can CHOOSE to think, speak, and assume his intentions were good until I can ask him about it later. Maybe he was frustrated at a project, maybe he didn't see me, maybe he though that face was sexy... When I do this, 90% of what I thought was an issue is gone before I have a chance to talk to him about it. This will seriously save you SO much stress.
Some positive thoughts for the road...
Before we get too overwhelmed with all of the potential bad that can come from working together, it's important to reflect on all of the good that comes from working with your husband.
You are able to be a team at work, which brings you closer together.
You are working together towards a common goal and can dream in a deeper way than most.
You always have someone at work with you who can fill in your weaknesses and be there for you in a way no other co-worker can. They are always for you.
You have a constant reminder of what your vision is and why you are working so hard to begin with!
So whether your working in a joint office, or just working on the story of your marriage, I pray that these tips will encourage you, give you insight, and perhaps just a bit more tools in your marriage belt when it comes to working alongside that handsome man of yours.
Build your life well,