How my girlfriend and I work together without killing each other


By Josh Bovington

It’s been said time and time again that mixing home life and work life is a bad idea.  A lot of people believe that the two should never be mixed, and that work should be left at the door when you come home.  While there’s a lot that can be said to support this, I’d like to offer the other side of this argument.  I’ve been working with my girlfriend Gemma for over two years now and I can safely say that whilst it has its downsides, it’s been a great experience.  Sure there are times when we have arguments, or make little digs at each other, but at the end of the day we are always able to come back home and continue as we normally do.  Hopefully this article can help shed some light on the reasons why working with your partner is a really great thing.

Gemma and I first started working together at a café.  I had been there already for a few months and when an opening came up for a new worker, I was quick to suggest her.  At first I did have my hesitations.  What if we argue all the time? What if we get sick of each other? What if it destroys our relationship?  Nevertheless, we decided to proceed and sure enough, she got the job.  The first few weeks went well – too well almost.  Gemma took to the job so well that she was doing better than me! I had imagined that I would be the one showing her what to do, and very quickly, she was telling me things I didn’t even know about!  Things were great though, until the café hit peak times in the summer and the light-hearted nature of work disappeared.  The days got longer and busier, and now instead of laughing about the good moments we had at work when we got home, we would end up moaning about the endless bad things that had happened.  This made matters worse when working together, as all the negativity we had at work came home with us and then followed us back to work.  It seemed as if there was no escaping from work as it had taken over our lives.  This often led to arguments between us and giving up on working together seemed like an easier option.

After thinking for a while, however, we realised that the only reason we felt down was because we were letting work control our lives.  So we decided that instead of complaining to each other about customers, or nagging each other about mistakes we might have made in the day, we would just move on from it and try not to discuss work at all when we got home.  We had to treat work and home life completely separately.  You may ask that if this is the case, why work together at all?  Well, I would say that in many ways, working together has brought us a lot closer.  I’ve been able to see how hard-working Gemma is, and how she deals with problems.  I’ve seen how quickly she can learn new things, and the way she deals with customers and other people always makes me proud.  She knows how to keep a cool head with difficult customers, something which I’ve not been so good at! And when something bad has happened at work, we are able to comfort and support each other immediately.  If we weren’t working together, the problems we have at work may escalate and get worse.  Being together means we can tackle them head on together.  The café we worked in interestingly also had not one but TWO other couples working there, who also worked well as a team.  Quite often the three couples would all be in a section together.  One couple on the counter, one in the kitchen and one washing dishes, and apart from the odd disagreement, it was remarkable how well everyone got along.

Eventually we decided we needed to move on from the café, and saw the opportunity to start our own business together selling vintage books in London.  Now working together in a café with other people was one thing, but starting our own business, with just the two of us, in CENTRAL LONDON, was another thing completely.  We decided to give it a go though, and have been doing so, relatively trouble-free, for nearly a year now.  Obviously it’s a massive undertaking so there have been many tough moments, but finding a solution to the problems together is really the ultimate goal.  I know a lot of people couldn’t think of anything worse than working with their other half, particularly running a business, but when I think about it, there really is no-one else that I would want to run a business with.  Your partner should be the one person in life you trust more than anyone else, your best friend, and someone to rely on.  All these qualities are incredibly important when running a business, and as a whole, are very important when working with anyone full stop.  So when you have this amount of chemistry with somebody, it seems crazy to think that it wouldn’t be successful.

I would definitely recommend working with your partner if you ever have the opportunity.  The main advice I would give to people is remember to leave the negativity of work at work and enjoy your home life together.  This is advice that I often forget to follow myself if I’m honest, but it is important nonetheless.  This isn’t to say work is all negative, as there are so many good elements of work that I do bring home with me, and Gemma and I often talk and laugh of the funny times we have had at work and the moments when we have been proud of how each other worked throughout the day.  It has definitely been a test at times working together, but some tests can be a really positive experience, and overall, I think working together has strengthened our relationship even more.

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