Couples make it work in the workplaceCouples who are employed at the same place and enjoy healthy relationships have mastered the art of balancing their work and personal lives. One of the keys to success seems to be having separate areas of responsibility. Others are communicating well and letting go of the small stuff.
By: By Pamela Knudson , Forum Communications, The Jamestown Sun
Couples who are employed at the same place and enjoy healthy relationships have mastered the art of balancing their work and personal lives.
One of the keys to success seems to be having separate areas of responsibility. Others are communicating well and letting go of the small stuff.
“Because we do such different things during the day, that makes a difference,” said Cindy Melby.
She and her husband Bruce have owned and operated Melby’s Food Pride in Larimore, N.D., since 1983.
Cindy manages the bakery and deli and Bruce focuses on the overall business, computer work and the front end of the store. Their son, Allan, manages the meat department.
“I couldn’t do the stuff he does in the office and he stays away from the bakery,” she said. She considers it a plus that they can work in the same location.
The couple gained valuable experience remodeling two homes together in Minnesota, where they lived before moving to Larimore.
But it’s not easy to draw distinct lines between their work and personal lives, she said.
“Sometimes, it’s hard to separate because things that go on at work carry over. We end up discussing them at home.
“But I think any couple would discuss work when they’re at home, whether they work together or not.”
She appreciates her husband’s usual reaction to her suggestions about the store.
“He says, ‘if that’s what you want to do, go ahead.’”
Bruce said he’s no micromanager.
“I like to pretend I’m the boss,” he said. “I tell customers, ‘I’m not the boss, but I sleep with her.’”
He delegates responsibility throughout the store, and said he likes to train people to do the job and let them do it.
He and Cindy “are in the same building, but we’re not side-by-side all day long,” he said. “We do rub elbows at times during the day.”
And what’s the chief advantage of working together?
“There are things that she will see that I don’t. She’ll alert me to potential problems,” Bruce said.
The couple doesn’t “officially try to leave it at work” when they get home, he said. “If something needs to be discussed, we discuss it.”
He figures that they “passed the main test for married people working together when we did wallpapering without having an all-out battle.”
The key to making the relationship work when you work together?
“Marry the right gal,” he said, which he did 36 years ago.
“We’re both pretty easy-going,” Cindy said. “We don’t get too riled.”
A team of
Owners of Behl’s Photography in Grand Forks, Cecilia and Bruce Lysne, have worked together for 25 of their 27 years of marriage.
“You learn over the years,” Cecilia said. “You just learn.”
Early on in their business life, the couple received good advice from another couple who ran a photography studio.
“They said, have your areas” of responsibility, she said. In business, what I say goes, and in photography, what he says goes.”
Because each understands the other’s area, they are able to work in tandem.
“We’re both each other’s assistants,” she said.
Issues that need negotiation usually involve major purchases — whether to buy new photography equipment or spend in support of business needs.
“To stay competitive you really have to invest for the future,” Bruce said.
“I say, we can only spend the money once,” Cecilia said.
“We work at breaking it down to ‘want’ or ‘need,’” he said.
“We’re both pretty practical,” she said. “I don’t think we’ve ever dug our heels in on opposite sides.
What’s been “fantastic” for them, he said, is the daily drive to and from their residence in Crookston. In that 30-minute commute, details are discussed and reminders about their to-do lists are shared.
“That’s when we catch up on our day,” she said, “when we gear up and gear down.”
What’s their key to successfully mixing marriage and work?
“Talk about things at the beginning, before they get to be big things,” Cecilia said. “Learn to let the little things go.”
Bruce echoes the sentiment.
“Not being overly anal-retentive about everything and being able to smile and laugh and enjoy our clients. We’re so lucky to have such great clientele and just have fun with people.”
Cecilia has never been afraid to ask for advice from people who are successful, she said. “I don’t have to make my own mistakes.”
She and Bruce have high praise for Gaylor and Marcie Offerdahl who ran Gaylor’s Photography in Grand Forks for many years and who were generous mentors and role models.
“He is a talented photographer, and they are good business people,” Cecilia said.
Dating at Digi-Key
Jennifer Krom met her boyfriend Kelly Langness last year when she took a job at Digi-Key in Thief River Falls. They’ve been dating for 14 months.
After the first few months of her employment, they started working in the same department.
“We worked the same shifts, took the same breaks,” she said.
At first, the regular contact strengthened the relationship, she said, but several months of “seeing too much of each other” it began to wear on the relationship.
“We needed our own time and space to be with our families and do our own thing.”
Others, who knew they were dating, made comments.
“We got teased a lot,” she said, for example when her guy sent her flowers at work, co-workers would say, ‘Oooo, Jen got flowers on her birthday. Wonder who they’re from?’
“We work in a really young crowd, about 15 to 20 people, all 30 or younger,” she said. “It became awkward, especially being a young couple and still getting to know each other.”
There are advantages to working at the same place.
Carpooling, she said. “I don’t think my car was out of the garage all winter.”
And on days when their meal-breaks coincide, “I just double whatever I’m bringing in, and we share it. It’s like we have a dinner date at work.”
Because they know each other’s jobs, they bring a level of understanding and insight to work-related conversations outside the workplace.
“It makes it more interesting,” she said. “You don’t have to explain as much.”
But Krom must be careful when she hears something at work from friends before she hears Langness’ side of the story, she said. “I try not to take sides.”
Like many organizations, Digi-Key permits dating among employees as long as one is not the other’s supervisor, responsible for performance evaluations, salary recommendations and related decisions.
For some people, working together works and for others, it doesn’t, Krom said. She had to find a healthy balance.
She took another job within Digi-Key that changed her shift schedule and reduced how often she and Langness see each other.
The change “probably saved the relationship,” she said. “If you get to see someone so much you’re going to get sick of them. It’s like putting too much sugar in the Kool-Aid.
“Now, it’s just the right mix.”
Pamela Knudson is a reporter at the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.