Newly unemployed, men redefine breadwinning roles
Monte Myers is an office manager at his wife's company, Center for Wealth Management. He has become familiar with grocery store aisles of, especially on his extra day off, Thursdays. That's the day he does the grocery shopping _ after taking care of home repairs and laundry.
WORK TOGETHER, STAY TOGETHER
Here's some stay-sane advice for couples who work together, especially when the wife is the boss:
_Amp up communication: If the wife is the boss, "all of a sudden, she has power that she didn't have before," says Irene Swerdlow-Freed, a clinical psychologist. The husband might have emotional baggage to deal with because he would be unemployed if not for his wife, and it all needs to be talked about on a regular basis to avoid any resentment, she says.
_ Decide who will make final decisions: If the wife is the head of the company, the husband needs to be able to present his ideas and feel she is listening to him. At the same time, says Swerdlow-Freed, the couple needs to decide up front who will make the ultimate business decisions in various areas _ and make it clear to other employees _ so there are no misunderstandings.
_ Talk about household tasks: If it falls to the wife to run the business, she likely won't be able to also clean the house and do the laundry and take care of the kids and do the grocery shopping and, you get it. If the couple decides the husband will work less at the office, he may also need to take on more of the household chores. On the flip side, he could have more free time to pursue leisure interests.
_ Create a safe space and time: Have a specific place in the house and a certain time of day when you do not discuss business. Susan and Monte Myers, who work at her financial planning company, get a lot of their business discussions out of the way during their daily commute together. Relationship expert April Masini of www.askapril.com specifically says to stay away from business talk in the bedroom because "there's nothing like work to kill your sex life."
_ Don't be afraid to treat your spouse the way you would another co worker: If there are other employees, be aware of situations that could evoke accusations of favoritism. If you have business to discuss that you know could make emotions flare, writes Masini, get away to another setting, like a meeting room or coffee shop. Breaking out of typical work boundaries can help you cool down.
_ Have your own work spaces: "Have your own desk, your own phone line, your own filing system," says Swerdlow-Freed, who owns a practice with her husband, Daniel. "We have different ways of working. He's neater, and I tend to be sloppier."
_ Base assignments on who's better at certain things: Talk about each other's strengths and weaknesses; assign tasks accordingly.
_ When work problems arise, make a list: Swerdlow-Freed says she and her husband write down work conflicts as a list of items to talk about so they don't get distracted by a jumble of issues. The key is to resolve one problem before moving onto the next.
_ Remember you're married: When you're not working, go on dates together. Have fun. Keep acting like a married couple when you're not at the office.
© 2009, Detroit Free Press.
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