Working with your Spouse with Brandon Hooley

Jun 05, 2019

"I could never work with my spouse!" We hear it time and time again.

Working with your spouse can be challenging, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. 

9 cities, 5 states, 2 countries, 6 kids, countless pets and 7 businesses. Brandon and I have been through a lot during our 15 years of marriage. In April of 2017 Brandon left his nine year corporate career with Mercedes Benz Financial Services. It's been a a long journey filled with intense highs and devastating lows. But how boring would life be if it was easy all the time?!

  • (02:59) We've learned a lot from one another and even about ourselves as individuals through this process. Anyone can work with their spouse with proper communication and boundaries in place. 
  • (03:57) We started up lots of different businesses through the years and this one, Bailey's Blossoms, really caught on and flourished. As this continued to transpire, it just made sense. We were given this great opportunity that you had built and that I could come on board and really assist and help with. This was a dream that we wanted to accomplish together. So yeah, there were sacrifices, but I think we've both made sacrifices in our marriage and that's really what makes it work. The biggest thing is that we're not keeping a score card as to whose turn it is or who's doing the bulk of the work or who deserves what. And that has really created a sense of cohesiveness between us where we communicate in a way that we're not bartering for position with one another.
  • (05:39) It really comes down to mutual respect. We respect one another and what we're able to do from a business perspective as well as what we bring to the table and the strengths we each hold in business but also as husband and wife and as father and mother.
  • (06:02) When you did leave your corporate career, one of my biggest fears was that would you lose a sense of identity in this journey, this journey that I had started that you were now adopting. I talk a lot about leading a life full of passion and I've always want to make sure that you have a degree of passion as well and that you didn't lose your individuality. I think that as mothers and as parents, we can give so much to our kids that we start to kind of muddy and fuzzy the lines of who we are as individuals and sometimes in working in tandem, although we do it really well, there is always going to be the possibility that you could lose a degree of yourself through that partnership. So keeping ourselves in unison together, but also keeping ourselves aware enough as individuals that we don't lose sight of who we are is really important.
  • (07:38) It took a little bit of time as I was feeling my way around and finding my purpose. It doesn't happen overnight by any means, but I think it's having patience with one another and also, knowing that you wanted me to be passionate about this as well goes a long way.
  • (07:58) We need to be keenly aware of what our needs are, but we also need to be very service oriented and have our sights set on the other person. If I'm constantly inward focused, then you would never feel fulfilled or never feel loved or appreciated. So that constant awareness both as an individual but also as a couple goes a long ways. Also the willingness to step in fill in each other's gaps.
  • (08:51) It's really natural for us to examine our own roles and determine where we think our time is most valuable. Understanding that we're equally yolked is vital. We have different strengths and can work to play off of our strengths while allowing one another to fill in on our weaknesses. That helps us balance one another, but we have to strip ourselves of a lot of pride in order to do that.
  • (10:57) Boundaries are huge. When you work from home, and especially when you work from home together, everything has the potential to become work. You can't ever really "clock in" and "clock out". You're always at your office when your office is at home. It's easy to put the kids to bed and spend the evening in the hot tub or just hanging out in the bedroom talking about an employee issue or a team member who's struggling with something and that can bring really draining. You're out on a date together and all you're talking about is work. You're talking about work at home in the kitchen and at the dinner table. You never really allow yourself to be off duty because it's become your life and has the potential to become your relationship if you aren't careful. That's when those boundaries are incredibly vital and important. Just to be able to keep your relationship fresh and allow yourself to turn things off during those opportune moments.
  • (12:53) Sundays we put work away. We really try to not talk work at all on Sundays. That's one thing that's been beneficial. It's a clear defining boundary for us.
  • (13:24) I've heard it said that food is a great unifier and it really is. Whether it's a thanksgiving meal with the whole family or even just a family meal or just the two of us. When we all eat together it really becomes a unifier, which I appreciate.
  • (13:47) I had a little bit of difficulty with this whole Facebook live thing. It was something just really natural for you and you're a great with it but I've forced myself into it for sure. At first it was a little bit intimidating but now I actually enjoy it. It's going to turn out to be a great journal for our children one day, to look back at mom and dad and all the things they did together and what they were going through. 
A willingness to try new things, even things that don't interest you but are of interest to your spouse will strengthen your relationship. It's a give and a take where both parties have to be willing to step outside their own desires and serve. 
  • (14:42) We share an office space here in our home where our desks are adjacent to one another. We recently had an open and honest conversation about a real pain point with that. If I'm working on a creative project and you're working on something analytical and you turn to me and asked me a question there's a hard adjustment for me to pull myself out of creativity mode and shift over to analytical mode and I would get super frustrated. So we had a great conversation about how easy it is to unintentionally take advantage of the opportunity we have to be able to be so close in proximity to one another. Oftentimes when you're with a spouse and working together in such close knit circumstances you can begin to treat each other with a degree of casualness that you would never treat other team members with. We discussed how we needed to create boundaries grounded in respect. To be willing to say, you know what, it's not appropriate or respectful of me to undervalue what you're currently working on, to interrupt you mid process just because I can, just because I'm comfortable and just because you're here. The reality is if you were anybody else, I would have scheduled a meeting. I would have set aside some specific time to have that conversation. What we realized we were doing was we were making one another very ineffective and inefficient by constantly interrupting one another's work flow. It was creating tension and frustration. We needed boundaries to provide one another with the same respect that we gave to everybody else within our organization.
  • (19:05) Our work flows and our processes are so different from one another. Trying to communicate through that, to really understand what it is that makes us tick, what it is that makes us work really well, what our "genius zones" are. To be able to respect one another's boundaries so we can get in those "genius zones" even if we don't fully understand them. And oftentimes we don't. 
  • (19:41) Oftentimes what you're giving to your spouse is what you wish you could receive, not necessarily what they want to receive. We need to constantly do checks and balances. Am I treating you the way that you want to be treated or am I treating you the way that I want you to treat me? We have to constantly keep that line of communication open and be honest with one another when those moments arise.
  • (21:02) As you work together and jointly become one in that purpose, bringing two sets of experiences, skills, mindsets.. all of it. As you become one in that, that's when success happens. It's not easy. There've been plenty of times where we've had some pretty strong beliefs one way or another and we've had to work through those things.
  • (22:07) Respect and trust and communication. Those three components really help to facilitate a healthy relationship regardless of the struggles and the challenges that are bound to come your way. We've been through quite a hefty past year where stress has bounded. Lots of changes, lots of pivots, lots of big obstacles that we never could have foreseen, and yet we've had many conversations where we stepped back and said, man, this has been a really tough go, and yet we're still strong together. We're still making it together. Keeping that in perspective and knowing that there's always something to celebrate even in the struggle and in the hard times.
  • (24:07) I remember late nights at two or three in the morning. Multiple times trying to get things to go you're just dog tired. But you look back on those times, even those stressful times with a degree of fondness because you grew together in those moments. We've had a lot of growth in the past two years. We have learned to communicate to a degree that we never had before. We really have learned and grown a lot together within the past two years since we've been working together. And through that process we've also grown as individuals. It's been a great, crazy, stressful, chaotic, and wonderful time.
  • (26:15) When you're taken out of your comfort zone, that's when you grow together the best. When you're out of the comfort zone together, you work through it together. Not only does it create memories, but it creates bonds as you do. 
  • (26:41) When you are communicating, you have to do it with no filter. And that doesn't mean yelling and screaming and being crazy. That means respectfully saying everything that's on your mind, holding nothing back. Every time I've ever tried to drop a hint so that Brandon can pick it up and just figure it out, because "if he loves me, he'll figure it out", it has been a disaster. It's not fair.
It's not fair to expect that the people in our lives, especially the people we love the most, are going to figure out the unsaid things that we are not willing to say. We need to be willing to communicate 100% openly, honestly and respectfully. As you do that, that's when those real relationships are forged.
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