This situation can be murkier territory when the one you love is also the one with whom you have to make business decisions. Very easily and very quickly each of these relationships can clash and take precedence at inopportune times, to the detriment of everyone and both relationships.
Some ideas to keep in mind when managing dual relationships:
• The business and personal relationships go with you everywhere, but they shouldn't both be front and center. Find ways to make the relationship that matters the most at the moment the one you are engaged in.
Keep business out of the bedroom and start each day with your personal relationship. Make sure the personal relationship isn't on hold. Address issues here first, or at least make sure there is an understanding that something needs to be dealt with in the near future. When multiple issues are on the table, there is the danger of things overlapping. Business issues also should be dealt with promptly, but you may find that others can handle business affairs at times while you work things out.
• Have a support network of friends or colleagues with whom you can talk. There's no need to get other people involved in either of your relationships, but having someone to talk to for ideas and a diversion can be helpful. Talking with your partner in the moment is best, but if that doesn't work, taking a step back to calm down and come back together when you are less angry can make for a more productive discussion.
• Do not treat your personal relationship like a business. Do not treat your business like a personal relationship. Also, is the split 50/50 in duties? Is this feasible? Should the split in responsibility or “equality” look different during different situations?
• It's necessary to reevaluate your business plan every once in awhile. It's necessary to do the same for the personal relationship. There will always be a tension playing between the 2 relationships – business expansion/closing/status quo, starting a family or taking vacation, among the many possibilities. It may mean creating “lulls” in one relationship to focus on the dynamics of the other. But these situations need to be agreed upon – including length of time, change in responsibilities, etc. etc.
Remember, any relationship takes hard work to keep it going. A dual relationship might not always require more hard work, but it does require all the parties involved to understand what is needed and to take the time to do so when they can.
The therapists at PhiladelphiaMFT are trained in working with relationships. If you feel either or both of your relationships are in a difficult place right now, give us a call. We can provide a new perspective to highlight solutions you haven't been able to see.
This topic of the week was written by Brian Swope, MFT