Over the past few weeks quite a few couples have expressed their difficulties to me about working together in business. They either work in the same company or they run a family business and work together as business partners. The issues that many of them have raised with me are; talking about work far past the time they have left the office, allowing their relationship to be based around work, treating each other as coworkers or manager/subordinates rather than husband and wife and many other issues that all revolve around the same issue...boundaries.
King David tells us “Your Kingdom is Kingdom for ever and ever, and Your reign will reign from generation to generation.” (Psalms 145) Like always, we must look at the Hebrew to truly understand the meaning of this verse. The word “forever” is “Olamim” which also means “worlds.” Taking this into consideration we can interpret this verse in another way. “Your Kingdom is Kingdom over all of the worlds, and Your reign will reign from generation to generation.”
What does this interpretation teach us?
G-d rules over Place (Worlds/Olamim) and Time (Generations). We too must learn to rule over our place and time. In order to rule over something, boundaries need to be created, otherwise, it rules over us. Let me give you an example of each.
Place - Water is a very positive thing in our life, it even gives life. But if the same water lacks boundaries and is not kept in its place it has the potential to become very destructive and even dangerous.
Time - Lets say I baked cake to surprise my wife (it would be a surprise if I managed to bake a cake). If I put the cake in the oven and do not take into consideration the need to create boundaries around time, I could continue baking the cake for ever, because baking a cake for my wife gives her pleasure. But even those of us that are not bakers know, that the time we bake that cake is essential to its success. In fact taking the cake out of the oven is as important as putting it in.
So here are my practical tips based on the above verse that King David wrote;
Create boundaries of SPACE and TIME on your business relationship.
Even though you live under the same roof, respect work hours like you are strangers at work. Would the IT guy at work call you at 23:00 interrupting your family time or personal time to tell you they had solved the email issue you had at the office? If they did, I hope you wouldnt answer ! This works in the opposite regard as well. Be careful not to mix too much ‘family’ into the work day, just because you sit in the same office doesn’t mean you need to discuss whats for dinner.
Create boundaries to your work space. If you have an office in your home, work there and not in the lounge room or even worse your bedroom. I know that is difficult as we have access to our emails and messages wherever we are, but take control, rule the technology don’t let it rule you!
Most importantly the peace in your home takes precedence! If working together in a business is detrimental to your relationship and you can not find ways to improve it, remember what your priorities are! It says in the Talmud, that it is as ‘difficult’ for G-d to bring two people together as it was to split the sea. This opinion is very difficult to understand on a theological level, but lets look at what it teaches us on an emotional level. G-d INVESTS in our marriage, that is his priority. There are no quotes in the Talmud that I know of that speak about G-d investing as much in business as he does in our marriage!