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The Great Balancing Act

3 Tips for Working With Your Spouse

April 2, 2024
Servant Teamsmanship
Katie Claxton

Navigating teamwork and marriage with grace

Healthy teaming can be difficult and takes a lot of work and intentionality. In fact, there are entire businesses (like ours!) that have been created specifically to help organizations build healthy teams.

Here at WinShape Teams, we believe your marriage is the most important team you can be part of. Like healthy teaming, maintaining a healthy marriage also takes work. This is one of the many reasons that WinShape Marriage was founded—to create experiences that help husbands and wives grow closer to each other and to the Lord.

What happens when these two worlds collide? Working with your spouse can add an extra layer of complexity when trying to team well and maintain a healthy marriage.

I had the opportunity to speak with four different couples who have successfully balanced working alongside their spouse each day. Three common themes emerged across all four conversations. Read on for these three keys to their success and the advice they would give other couples walking in their shoes.

Meet the couples behind this blog

Jon and Julie Estes

Jon and Julie have been married since 1997 and own Woodlands Camp in North Georgia. They currently serve as Camp Director and CEO (Jon) and Healthcare Specialist (Julie).

working with your spouse - jon and julie estes

Matt and Crystal Stockdale

Matt and Crystal have been married since 2009. Six years ago, they opened Chick-fil-A Ear of Corn in Rochester, Minnesota. They currently serve as Operator (Matt) and Operating Partner (Crystal).

working with your spouse - matt and crystal stockdale

Stephen and Gabby Galloway

Stephen and Gabby have been married since 2018. They both currently work at the WinShape Foundation, Stephen as an IT Help Desk Analyst, and Gabby as an Operations Associate for WinShape Teams.

working with your spouse - stephen and gabby galloway

James and Naomi Fowler

James and Naomi have been married since 2022. They also both currently work at the WinShape Foundation. James currently serves as a Software Developer, and Naomi serves as a Programming Instructor for WinShape Teams.

working with your spouse - james and naomi fowler

3 Tips for Working with Your Spouse

 

1. Be intentional with your communication and connection.

 

I know what you’re thinking. Communication is key in any relationship! While this is true, it still needs to be said. It’s easy to fall comfortably into a routine and let communication fall by the wayside.

Being intentional with your communication and scheduling regular check-in times for you and your spouse is a simple way to ensure that both of you are frequently touching base and staying on the same page.

Jon and Julie Estes have found a routine that works well for them. Before bed each night, they compare schedules for the coming day. Not only does this keep them connected and in the loop on what’s going on in the other’s day, but it also gives them insight into how best to support and pray for their spouse.

Not sure where to start? Take the first step by setting up a weekly check-in meeting with your spouse and ask these 5 questions from the More Than Roommates podcast.

  1. What is God teaching you?
  2. How can I serve you better this upcoming week?
  3. How can I pray for you in the week ahead?
  4. How can we make sure we make time for each other?
  5. What’s on our calendar in the next week?
working with your spouse - communication and connection

Beyond these nightly check-ins, the Estes also hold three annual “family councils” at pivotal points in their calendar year to touch base on bigger-picture details about what’s going on at work and at home and to plan for what’s ahead. Jon and Julie also take a couple’s cruise each September after the summer camping season comes to a close.

“We love cruising because we have to disconnect from our phones,” said Jon. “During that time, we have ‘cruise conversations,’ which is a safe space to talk about the state of our union, including work, personal, and family-related topics.”

Scheduling these times of connection in advance also helps spouses avoid blindsiding one another with potentially difficult conversations or topics of discussion. Crystal Stockdale added, “Conflicts would arise because Matt and I were talking about work over the dinner table as opposed to when both of us were in the mindset to do so. We now have scheduled statuses for work, and we also schedule date nights and an annual trip for just us.”

working with your spouse - healthy boundaries

2. Establish and respect healthy boundaries.

 

Setting boundaries at work is a healthy practice for anyone to implement, but when you work with your spouse, work and home life can quickly bleed into one another. It’s important to create healthy boundaries to protect not only your work but also the sanctity of your marriage.

The Estes find it helpful to create safe or sacred spaces. Julie advised, “Have ‘no work talk’ times. Keep certain places and times sacred—maybe that’s your bedroom, a date night, or the dinner table.” Jon added that they try to keep work at work and reserve time at home exclusively for their family. They also find it helpful to keep their bed and dinner table tech-free.

Creating these “sacred spaces” isn’t only for keeping work and home life separate. It’s critical for both spouses to have a safe place or time to be able to openly and honestly share their hearts without defense, frustration, or anger.

Early in their marriage, the Estes established weekly check-ins at the end of each camp week to discuss how the week went and if any adjustments needed to be made.

“It was life-giving to me to know that I could tell him how I was feeling and that we could work together to figure out how to make things better,” said Julie. “Even if there weren’t any actual changes that could be made right then, it meant a lot to me to know that I had the freedom to voice how I was doing and that he heard me.”

James and Naomi Fowler find themselves having to establish boundaries in a different way. “Our work community and personal community sometimes overlap, and one of the challenges we face is figuring out what work-related knowledge to share and what to keep private,” said Naomi. “There are times when one of us has knowledge about someone or something confidential that’s going on at work, and while it’s tempting to share that information with each other, it’s important that our coworkers can trust us and that we won’t place the other person in a difficult spot. Having this boundary has been helpful for us in our blended community.”

 

working with your spouse - counseling and coaching

3. Don’t be afraid to seek counseling and coaching.

 

When spouses work together and run a home and a family together, it can be healthy to turn to an outside source for counseling, coaching, or advice to offer a fresh perspective. Crystal Stockdale encourages other spouses in her and Matt’s situation to be vulnerable and ask for help.

“A year and a half ago, we were at a low point in our marriage. The responsibility of running a business and a home at the same time was not working well. We both had large responsibilities and were not carving out enough time for scheduled statuses and scheduled dates,” Crystal said. “At that time, we sought coaching from a Marriage Counselor. This is the best thing we could have done, and we wish we had done it before we actually ‘needed’ the help. The coaching was faith-based, and our coach gave us some tangible steps and focuses each day and week to keep us grounded in what’s most important.”

Gabby and Stephen Galloway agree. “Since we work together, our community at large overlaps quite a bit, and we both get to experience having the same people impact our lives,” said Gabby. “It’s nice to be able to seek advice from someone who knows us both AND is familiar with our organization and day-to-day work environment. Sometimes, we are actually able to provide that fresh perspective to each other since we work in different areas of our organization.”

Navigating the delicate balance between teamwork and maintaining a healthy marriage can be daunting, especially for couples who work together. However, as we’ve learned from these four couples, with the right practices and perspectives in place, it provides an opportunity to deepen an already beautiful relationship between spouses.

working with your spouse - winshape marriage

Grow together in your career AND your marriage

We at WinShape Teams are always happy to help you and your team grow professionally, but we are only one of five ministries that make up the WinShape Foundation.

Be sure to check out the experiences and resources our sister ministry, WinShape Marriage, has to offer. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend to connect with your spouse or for a more intensive experience to dive deeper into your relationship, WinShape Marriage has a variety of different retreat formats and topics to best fit your marriage.