Advice for married couples working together

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indogal
Posts: 86
Joined: Mon May 30, 2011 3:33 pm

Advice for married couples working together

Post by indogal »

I was hoping for some advice from other couples who have worked together successfully. I am recently married. Although I have taught for many years, this is my first job where I am working overseas with my spouse. My husband & I just started working together. So we work at the same school, live amongst the other teachers, and it's kind of odd for me. What advice or ground rules do spouses who successfully work together follow in order to have a successful work/life relationship? How do you keep your life from being consumed by work? And how do you keep your marriage happy & strong while working for the same school as your spouse?

PsyGuy
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Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:51 am
Location: Northern Europe

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Post by PsyGuy »

Stay away from each other as much as possible throughout the day on campus. When your day is done youll have something to talk about thats not already known to the other spouse.

Dont make friends with your spouses colleagues, inevitably you end up between the two in some kind of conflict.

Dont share your marriage relationship with students, some group of students will try to manipulate that. You will be surprised how something as minor as "your a better teacher than X" will effect you (or your spouse).

Dont comment on your spouse or youre relationship to others, even other couples and especially leadership. Dont be the messenger for leadership or agree to be their designated advocate. If someone in leadership says "would you mind talking to your spouse about X" the answer is yes you mind they can talk to your spouse themselves.

The IS is a hands off workplace, no PDA, no living out naughty fantasies in the classroom after hours.

Heliotrope
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Joined: Sun May 13, 2018 1:48 am

Re: Response

Post by Heliotrope »

It all depends on what kind of relationship you two have.
Some teaching couples I've known chose to spend a lot of time on campus together, and their relationship thrived. They shared the same circle of teacher friends, and would still have plenty to talk about when they got home.
For other couples it works better if they try and keep some distance where possible while at work.

Students will almost always find out you're married, so try keeping that a secret will be very difficult and rather pointless, unless you don't tell your co-workers either (which means you can't really see them outside of work). I've never heard of students using it against a teacher though, so there's not much harm if they do find out imo.

I agree leadership shouldn't view you as an extension of your partner. Passing along a message like 'The books will arrive tomorrow' is fine, but not much beyond that. Basically, anything they wouldn't ask you to say/give/etc. to another co-worker.

My advice would be to talk about this extensively with your spouse. See what they would feel most comfortable with, and not just at the beginning but every now and then.
How much of your lives do you want to overlap?
One of you might have a problem with it if the other strikes up a friendship with someone in their partner's department.
If one of you is a lot more experienced, the other might hope to benefit from the other's experience.
All issues that will come up and should be discussed.

Don't model your relationship at work after what you've seen from other teaching couples. They have different personalities and therefore a different kind of relationship. What works for one couple might not work for you two, and one way is not better than the other.
It might just strengthen your relationship because you'll both understand the other person's concerns and worries about their work - you know that principal the other is complaining about, or that kid that is driving them crazy.

Personally I'm not the kind of person who merges their life with that of their partner, so I would keep a bit of a distance if we worked together, although I wouldn't go to great lengths to avoid the other. But it wouldn't be a bad thing to share certain work friends imo, if you have a healthy relationship and are able to communicate openly.

And of course make sure to French kiss often in the cafeteria at lunch time, but NO under the sweater action, as that would be perceived as unprofessional - over the sweater only.

Good luck!

marieh
Posts: 189
Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:33 pm

Re: Advice for married couples working together

Post by marieh »

Every couple is different and you're going to have to find out what works best for the both of you. My husband and I have been living together (often in very close quarters) and working together for over a decade. We have found that we are stronger as a pair than we are as individuals. We unfortunately do not have the option of having a lot of time off, but we have date night every Friday or Saturday make sure that our cell phones are ignored for anything but emergencies after 7pm (he is now admin, so turning his off is impossible). We worth with many other couples and I'd say they're 50/50 on the "don't talk about work at home" rule. We personally talk about work all the time, but again, that's because we like to.

Like anything in marriage, just communicate with each other and enjoy your new adventure!

s0830887
Posts: 48
Joined: Thu Dec 17, 2015 4:46 am

Re: Advice for married couples working together

Post by s0830887 »

It is definitely up to the married couple, I've seen a lot of ways they make it work. My husband and I work in a small school that neither of us particularly like, so we see each other a lot during the day and it's a bit of a saving grace for our mental health, I think. Last school was bigger, big subject departments, we only saw each other at lunch. Don't see any reason to hide the relationship--if you can't handle a bit of teasing from students, don't be a teacher!

What PsyGuy said about not passing on messages from leadership to your spouse, or being their "designated advocate"--this x1000%. Nope, nope, nope. If you let it happen, it starts out as people just asking you where your spouse is on campus at any given time (as if you would know where they are exactly at every minute?), or passing along a message. But it (potentially) ends with senior leadership trying to complain about your spouse to you and expecting you to use your marital influence to solve the problem. Last year our HOS was having a kind of mental breakdown right before she quit and spent an afternoon angrily storming back and forth between my husband and I because neither of us would discuss the other's work performance with her. We had to get the deputy head to intervene because she just wouldn't stop. So yeah, establish those boundaries!!!

sid
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Joined: Sat Dec 02, 2006 11:44 am

Re: Advice for married couples working together

Post by sid »

Enjoy the benefits of working with your favorite person in the world. Have lunch together daily - millions of lovey-dovey couples the world round would envy you for your luck!
Definitely keep a dose of professionalism, as mentioned above. The most PDA I've ever seen is an occasional handhold on the walk into the building from the car park - never in the actual building. Don't discuss anything about your spouse that you wouldn't discuss about another colleague, and I will say that any reasonable SLT person would never try.
Leave any occasional friction at the school gate. We've all been there....
Help others to be comfortable with you as colleagues by demonstrating that you are two separate people, who are generally in sync but not clones. You can have your own differing opinions on professional matters, even vote or lobby separately while still demonstrating respect. It's a bit like Survivor - no one wants to compete with a power couple, so make it clear that when it comes to work, you're independent.

mysharona
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Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2011 1:25 am

Re: Advice for married couples working together

Post by mysharona »

My significant other and I have taught in the same school for 17 of the past 21 years without any conflicts. Based on other couples' experiences however, my one piece of advice is to let your spouse fight their own "battles", whether they be with parents, students or administration.

PsyGuy
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Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:51 am
Location: Northern Europe

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Post by PsyGuy »

Concur with @mysharona on fighting battles independently.

Illiane_Blues
Posts: 268
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:56 pm

Re: Advice for married couples working together

Post by Illiane_Blues »

A couple I know both found that their life was too much dominated by the school they both worked at -they would discuss students at home all the time-, so they decided not to talk about school at home anymore. Instead, they would talk about school issues during their lunch together, or during their bus ride home. Worked very well.
Three years later they had a child and then another one a year later, so they wouldn't even feel the urge or have the time to talk about school at home.
So my advice would be to set boundaries or have a child.

PsyGuy
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Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:51 am
Location: Northern Europe

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Post by PsyGuy »

There are FAR better hobbies than child-rearing.

Illiane_Blues
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Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:56 pm

Re: Comment

Post by Illiane_Blues »

I'm very glad to hear (read) you say (type) that.

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