Why is it important to have established roles in our marriage and within our business?
We believe that without clear roles, we can become confused, over worked and under appreciated. We may be doing something over and over again that we feel our spouse should appreciate, but they just don’t ever notice. It can be very frustrating to feel like you’re wasting effort on specific tasks, and then always coming up short in other areas with your spouse. We can’t just rush through our day, Ashley and I have learned to take the time to communicate our expectations and hopes for each other in our family and business. Slowing down to establish roles helps us actually accomplish far more in our lives.
The first step to establishing set roles is to set expectations. What are the obvious roles that you have in your life? For me, I am a father, a husband, a son, a business owner, and a photographer. All of these roles come with their own distinct responsibilities and rewards. Besides these obvious roles, however, are ones that aren’t as recognized or verbalized. For instance, as a dad who works from home, I also double as a part-time house cleaner, cook, photo editor, blogger, dog walker, laundry service and now I am a preschool shuttle service. The list goes on and on for me, and probably for you as well. For us, we have to communicate about which roles we like, and which roles we’d like to trade. Some months there is grace for me to do more, and some months I need Ashley to carry a bigger load, and vice versa. We have to learn to be honest about our weaknesses and strengths, and celebrate how the other person steps in when they can.
Sometimes there may be roles in our lives that we take on that we may not even realize we’ve added. Once we identify our roles and take responsibility for these roles, we can begin to set realistic goals for our days and monitor our expectations of both ourselves and those around us. If Ashley and I communicate about what we expect from each other, and what we hope to achieve during a day, then we free each other up. We then can better utilize our time and talents to create a more efficient and successful household and business. And ultimately, we increase our capacity for peace and happiness by setting up clear expectations in our roles.
Here is a quick list of the different roles Ashley and I have in our home: (Note, in your own home, you may have things reversed or different than ours, and that’s ok. Just take a minute and honestly jot down some of the roles you want to take on, and some of the ones you’d like your spouse to adopt if they are willing.)
Responsible for getting the kids in bed
Responsible for getting the kids to school
Correspondent for our clients: including emails, meetings, phone calls with vendors and current/potential clients
Website Design and Maintenance
So how are two totally different people, like Ashley and I are, come together and create a unified house where we operate in different roles to create a cohesive work and home life balance?
For some married couples this will be easier than others. Some people seem like they can mesh roles very easily. And then there are couples who are more like Ashley and I, and it takes a little more communication and effort on our parts to see eye to eye. 🙂 We have to work at communicating, and work at communicating peacefully. We can’t afford to let time go by where we don’t say what’s bothering us, which roles are fatiguing us, and which roles need to be switched.
Ashley and I each have a set of things we are good at and a set of things we struggle with. When you put each of our talents together we are able to pick up the slack where the other might need help. For instance, even though I love people and love building friendships and relationships, I am the intorvert in our relationship. I love people, but I’m refreshed by alone time and solitude. Going to 10 different meetings each week and maintaining relationships with vendors and past clients can become draining and stressful for me. Ashley, however, is about as full-blooded extrovert as they come. She thrives off of interactions with other people, and excels at meeting and winning over new people to her friend base as well. It’s been a no-brainer for us to put her as liaison between clients and vendors. Not only that, but even during shoots, Ashley is the one who can get kids to smile, warm people up so they feel more comfortable during the shoot, and make sure everyone is having a good time.
With her winning personality, Ashley doesn’t always have the mental space to remember the practical tasks around our house that need to get done. She is busy talking, relating, and asnwering emails and inquiries. Because of this, I have stepped up in other areas. I have taken on the role of cleaning and maintaining order in the house. By taking care of organizing the house, doing laundry, and cleaning, I free Ashley up during the week to meet with different people and invest in our client relations. It wouldn’t be fair of me to expect her to spend hours a day socializing just to come home to a messy house trashed by two toddlers. There are many more examples like this where Ashley has strengths where I am weak, and I have strengths where she is weak. We use our differences to help each other, and it helps us not expect the other person to be just like us. We actually learn to champion the other person, instead of wishing they’d be more like us. I am so glad Ashley isn’t like me, so she can do the things I can’t. And I am glad I’m not like her, or else we’d have tons of friends but get very little accomplished in other areas. With these roles, we learn to function in our strengths and it ends up being refreshing to both of us.
Here are some practical steps for you take to establish roles and healthy expectations of each other:
1) Meet with your spouse to discuss what they want/need accomplished and what your business needs accomplished. You’re going to have to choose to not be combative during these conversations. Choose to hear the other one out, and don’t bring in accusations or failures. Just have an honest conversation, and try not to have it emotionally charged. (Meeting weekly is even better so you can identify and acknowledge what is getting done or if roles need to change or adapt during different seasons of life).
2) List the activities and responsibilities you currently are in charge of or accomplishing. Make sure and affirm each other, and then list out the things that you know should be getting done but are not. We all have gaps in our productivity that if we could just sit down and assess, we’d do a much a better job at taking care of. Identify areas that you both are weak, and try and think of solutions to getting things done. Sometimes you will have to compromise, or alternate who takes on which responsibility for a time. If you both hate taking out the trash, for instance, you’re going to have to share the burden rather than expect your spouse to always do it.
3) Work Hard. Establishing roles may not be the easiest task for you and your spouse to start doing. But have patience and be persistent. Know that you both have each other’s best interest at heart and don’t point fingers if something doesn’t get done. It’s just best to not accuse each other, and try and encourage each other in the process.
4) Recognize that roles, like life, can be seasonal and transitional. Feel free to change roles. The roles you create will be fluid and changing as your schedules change. The weekly meeting I mentioned before is so useful in this area, because it helps us adapt and adjust as the need arises. In our business, we have busy seasons and slower seasons, so we can afford to take on and lose some responsibilities as things transition. The roles that we have during our busy wedding season are going to be much different than during our slower work season. Other transitions can include when kids are in school or on summer break, when it’s fall and winter and leaves need to be raked or snow plowed, when one of us is sick or if Ashley ever gets pregnant again, if we are trying to invest more in our church life, home life, family life, etc. We aren’t limited to the roles we first established. But we need to know our initial roles so we have something to work with in the future.
We hope this look inside our life will help you, as you attempt to continue establishing roles and creating a successful system within your business and your home life. Working from home isn’t for the faint-hearted, and working with your spouse doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it sometimes. Peace, unity, and productivity are possible goals in our homes. Let’s work at it together!
September 18, 2015
images Copyright The Siners Photography