Not too many years ago, I would have resisted the idea of working with my husband Warren in any capacity. We’re both bull-headed. He’s a morning person, and I’m a night owl. He likes to lead, where I prefer to recruit. On a bad day, those tendencies turn us into a dictator and a manipulator.
Sounds like a healthy working environment, right?
We never thought about the idea of working together until we started traveling the world in 2010. As we continued on our own paths of self-discovery, our relationship got some heavy analysis as well. And with no “regular” life to distract us – no jobs, no home, and no regular friends, we got up close and personal with every issue in our relationship.
We drew heavily on our business backgrounds when it came to negotiating solutions to our personal problems, going so far as to create an annual love contract for our marriage. It’s not an official document, more like a verbal agreement to review the previous year’s experience. We evaluate trends and encourage positive ones while investigating negative ones. It’s a relationship renegotiation, and we do it every year on our anniversary.
We say the tough things that are too easily glossed over in the every day – those things that can easily break down a relationship over time. Just like a business discussion over a contract renewal, we focus on the overall service we do in support of our relationship and not one bad experience.
And like any business contract, we give each other the right to renew or cancel at the end of the term. This allows us to verbally recommit to each other every single year instead of taking our relationship for granted. It’s powerful, and it reminds us every year that we’re choosing to be in this relationship, not just going through the motions because we said “I do” 10 years ago.
The strangest thing about all these business-like changes in our personal life is that we ended up going into business together. The dictator and the manipulator are now full partners in a media company called Married with Luggage, publishing books, a weekly podcast, and courses to help people over 40 create change in all areas of their lives.
We have separate roles in the company, and we’ve learned to give each other space as well as constructive criticism. We are comfortable separating our egos from our work product and sheltering our relationship from the ups and downs of business. All are essential in the growth of our company and ourselves, and it took us a lot of practice to get to this point.
We’re astounded at how well we work together. It shouldn’t be a surprise, though. Once you create a strong partnership in love, it’s a lot easier to do it in business.
Betsy Talbot and her husband Warren are the authors of Married with Luggage: What We Learned about Love by Traveling the World. Through their popular books, engaging weekly podcast, and revealing Sunday emails, they share the unconventional wisdom they’ve learned about living, working, and traveling together since 2010. Find out more about modern love and partnership at Married with Luggage.