When Your Business Partner is Also Your Spouse
We heard it so much when Josh started part-time at our family business, Normal Roasting Company, "I could never work with my husband every day." I'm sorry. I've been waiting years to do this. Before we were even married, Josh and I attended a job fair at the community college we both went to. I was still very unsure of what I wanted to do with my shiny new animal science degree, but I went with him, talking with all of the electrical contractors and public power company representatives. Josh went to school to be an electrician, wanting to move back to his small town and start a residential and commercial electrical company, and I was thrilled to go with him. Vintage Josh and Sara photo, circa 2007, for your viewing pleasure.
That job fair was when we started talking about what running a business together could look like, and it excited me. And even before then, before college, I knew my future would not be centered around a career so much as a lifestyle. We really just wanted to do something together.
Just because we've wanted it for years doesn't mean it was a super smooth path. We started an electrical company with an outside partner and it didn't work out. We went back to waiting and working, filing away the lessons learned, biding our time until our thing came along, then suddenly the Lord dropped coffee in our laps and we were like "Um, ok." I worked alone for a year with my head barely above water, learning how to do this working mom life thing. Then Josh started with me at Normal and was entirely too kind to me as I bossed him around and threw buckets.
I threw buckets when I was upset because it was such a gratifying sound in our mostly metal room. This one time, I threw our large metal scoop at Josh in the roastery. I don't really remember what I was mad about or if he was mad or what, but I tossed the large metal scoop we use to weigh out green coffee and it hit him in the collarbone. I really don't think I meant to throw it AT him so much as to just throw it...but am I embarrassed even writing this out? Completely. Internally cringing. It was one of the few times he's been actually mad at me because it really, actually hurt him. I really should not have done it and it honestly was a bit of a wake-up call for me. I was fantastic at stuffing anger until Normal filled me so with so MUCH (not anger, necessarily, but there is just so much to think about and take care of and handle and it was a lot), and it became necessary for me to really start working on it. His grace towards me, though, when I was living in that stuffed anger...that means more than he knows because it not only showed his character but also demonstrated God's grace towards me, us, our family.
Sara working on her anger issues aside, we settled into our positions and into the pace that Normal required of us in addition to home life (oh right, we have four kids, I remember). It was a solid two years in before it felt good and right. It was three years before I was finally able to say "I don't want to talk about work right now." to my workaholic enneagram eight husband, and thankfully he understands and we've both learned about when we need to shut things off.
Normal still requires a lot of us. When we have staffing issues and he has to cover the bar on a roasting day, it means he's working 16-20 hours to get the coffee roasted and the espresso pulled. There are times we really have to prioritize work over family, but it has also created a lot of freedom to prioritize family when having a "normal" job wouldn't allow it.
So how do we actually work together every day? There are a few things that are indispensable in our week running smoothly while our marriage thrives. We've found mutual respect and realization that there are things each of us is good at that may not fit into stereotypical Christian gender roles and neither of us is afraid to jump in when it's needed. We've also set a rhythm of communication that we are both invested in so we can stay on the same page. For us, the tools we use are Beating 50 Percent's Marriage Journal and our Full Focus Planners. We've been doing our Marriage Journal for three solid years now and it's so fun to look back at old journal entries about when big things were happening at home and at work. Then we both just started using Full Focus Planners and it's been the marriage journal for work that we've been wanting. Doing the weekly preview together every Sunday night is an awesome way to check in and know how we can support each other.
But mostly? We learn every day. We learn that Sara doesn't need play by play updated when she's trying to homeschool the kids. We learn that Josh can teach fifth-grade math while roasting coffee. We learn that sometimes we're most effective when we take a darn break.
I hope this has given you a peek into what life is like as a married couple in business together. It's wild and wonderful and we wouldn't trade it for the world. I also can't believe I'm hitting publish on the story of me throwing the scoop at Josh.
Chat soon, friends!