Good Relationship Boundaries


The topic that has come up for me is having a relationship with someone who is also involved in a similar business. How do you navigate this territory? With gender relationships and roles becoming more loosely defined, is it good to define our business relationships along the same lines? Are you fighting over things that you think should be your business per se? Statistically speaking, in fact, marriages that are based on couples working together, blank percent say they fight over these issues. How do you create a partnership that is a loving partnership while at the same time you want to stay partners in business?

I grew up in a family business environment where my father was a second-generation, we are the third-generation involvement in the business. I’ve also gone out and established several businesses on my own. It’s gotten tricky for me in relationships because I am fairly traditional in terms of relationship roles. I think that it works best when there’s a separation of duties and there’s a separation of roles, which honor the traditional values of gentlemen and ladylike behavior. There’s a certain respect for our differences that goes along with that idea of courtship and marital partnership.

I do not have the same construct about my business life. I believe there needs to be equity and equality in the business arena, which can be separated and can be contractualized. Those contracts between a man and a woman in their respective businesses need to reflect the value that is brought to the businesses and reward that value the same as any business construct. What this does is it creates an attitude of abundant exchange in all areas. Your spouse has a defined set of duties, and you have a defined set of duties, but you weigh in constantly on what each other is doing. That weighing-in process used to be kept separate from your marital discussions. So, how do you do that?

Let me suggest that you do it in a business environment like a conference room, and you set a meeting to discuss these business matters. I also suggest you do the same thing with your children if you have a working relationship with them or if you need to talk to them about finances and how that works. How your finances work should be separate from yours. Teaching them how to balance a checkbook is becoming a lost art. We’ll get into that in another blog.

In setting up compensation in your business, if you are doing a job, that salary should follow the job. The job should be paid for commensurate with what that particular job makes in the world and other arenas. Whether you’re a man or a woman, whether you’re working for your wife or working for your husband makes no difference. In this way, though the emotional tone behind your conversations may be fraught with relationship difficulties, the business as an entity does not need to suffer based on that. Also, make strict rules about when you’re discussing business when you’re not at home. If you need to have a discussion about business, do it in a study or a place where you can actually conduct work. Have separate spaces for that.

Otherwise, you’re getting your business energy all over your life, and that leads to fuzzy boundaries in all areas. It actually leads to less productivity.

So, what are we reaching for here? Relationships at home and in business that are clearly defined. Have clear communication where you resolve your issues. People all live harmoniously together in a very productive and rewarding environment commensurate with the level of effort that is put into this business.

It would be great to say that love conquers all in the end, perhaps, but neither party needs to take advantage of the other’s heart. That’s what good boundaries allow us to have.

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