"We talk to them about defining the roles of each partner," Snow says. Some advice from spouses who've worked through conflicts as co-owners: — Decide early on which partner will handle which responsibilities. Mary Wendel and Mark DiStefano, physicians who own Medi Tresse, a small chain of women's hair loss treatment centers, struggled at first without a structure; when they disagreed, their emotions affected the business and their marriage. "We learned to step back and look at each other's strengths and set roles based on what those strengths were," Wendel says.
— If you don't want work to spill over to your home life, set boundaries. Melanie and Ray Ocana, who own Rustico Tile & Stone, a manufacturer of Mexican tiles, decided that unless it's really necessary, shop talk shouldn't take time away from their two children. "This took some adjusting, but it has saved our quality time at home," Melanie Ocana says. The Ocanas, who have had their Austin, Texas, company for 14 years, also scheduled date nights to give themselves a break from work.
— Get some help with your relationship and/or how to run a business. Wendel and DiStefano went to a conference where they heard a talk by couples therapist and author Harville Hendrix about how to listen. It helped with their ability to communicate.
— Give each other positive feedback and validation. "It's important to support each other and let each other know we are doing a great job, as with any employee," Wendel says. — If you're an entrepreneur who works alone and your spouse or significant other joins your company, realize that you'll need to give up some control. Ben Taylor, whose wife, Louise, joined his technology consulting business, didn't know how to give her work or talk to her about it. "The relationship wasn't going to work in that form," says Taylor, who lives in Kent, England. She left the business, but rejoined it years later; it was structured differently and the couple still works together.
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Follow Joyce Rosenberg at www.twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg . Her work can be found here: https://apnews.com