Working with your significant other can be fun, but it can also pose some problems.
Depending on what kind of job you share and what positions you are in, power dynamics can create complications.
For one Redditor who employs his wife at his business, a recent outburst at work has caused issues between the two.
Basically, his wife stepped outside of her job to needlessly reprimand another worker—and the OP wasn’t having it.
“For starters my(M41) wife(F39) have been together 16 years. When she met me I was at the height of my business and starting to go up from there, even during the pandemic my business is still booming. I had my own house (that I lived in by myself), a couple cars and a cottage although that is unrelated. I own my own factory refurbishing various re-engineered equipment, mostly HVAC stuff. About 3 years after we got married she decided she had enough of working odd jobs and making not-so-great money at it so she expressed she wanted to be a SAHW. I had no problem with this, we don’t have kids and don’t plan on having any so I saw this as a win-win as she got to stay home, and I came home to a nice house,” the OP writes.
“After 3 years of this she was tired of being a SAHW and wanted to re-join the workforce. Since she could really only find odd jobs I suggested she work at my shop. I pretty much created a job for her doing small admin stuff, nothing crazy as I used to do all this myself plus work on the floor but this took a load off my shoulders; obviously she got paid a healthy wage for her work, and I hired a cleaner to come in once a week to help us clean and maintain the house.”
The OP writes that one of his workers made a mistake and ordered 20 parts instead of 2, which ended up costing the OP thousands of dollars.
The OP was not happy, but his worker has been with him for over 10 years, so he went easy on him. The OP’s wife, however, berated the worker, screaming that she was going to fire him and that he “cost her hours of re-work and budgeting,” which the OP says is just not true.
During a meeting with the two of them, the OP told her to leave the room so he could talk to the worker: “She refused; I asked again and once again she refused. I asked one more time, and my worker was on the verge of tears, and I yelled at her and told her, ‘You’re not the boss, I am. I make these decisions, now LEAVE.'”
After the OP told his wife to leave, she is now not talking to him. Did he overreact or did his wife need to know she was being unreasonable?
“If your wife pulled that crap in any other job she’d be fired on the spot. At work she’s your employee, not your wife and she has zero business treating your employees like this. Employees with far more seniority to her none the less,” observed kalkiki.
“She’s your employee, not boss, not supervisor, not manager, not in a position to make such calls. This is your realm to manage and she needs to respect your decision or find somewhere else to work. Unfortunately it can be very difficult working with family members as boundaries are often crossed and relationships destroyed. Hopefully you can have an adult conversation about it where she understand the error of her ways,” said lu-cy-inthesky.
“ESH. One of your employees started berating one of your other employees and threatened to fire him without the authority to do so, and you’re entirely letting that slide because she happens to be your wife. If you’re going to hire through nepotism, you need to be ready for uncomfortable conversations and make sure boundaries are drawn. You don’t get to ‘pick your battles.’ You’re absolutely under-reacting to this outburst in a way that is letting down your employee,” noted throwaway_05122018.
“OP created this situation by hiring his wife, and enabling a situation over the course 10 years to the point where she thought she was the boss too and obviously has some influence with other employees yet does not have the skills and perspective to respond appropriately. Assuming that wife reports directly to OP, OP is completely responsible for correcting the behaviour of his direct report towards another employee. But he can’t do it effectively because he’s married to her. On the flip side, telling his wife she’s just been doing busy work for 10 years and has no significant role in the business is going to go down poorly. She probably feels she has been contributing a lot so even though she was ridiculously out of line, telling her she has no place to be making calls and has just been doing a distraction job for a decade is going to be a torpedo to the relationship. OP you sound pretty patronising of your wife while having nepotismed her into thinking she was doing a lot more than you think she is – everything you say about her role might be true but did you really think it was never going to come back to bite you that you basically think your wife is, at work, no more than an admin flunky you don’t really need, while also giving her a protected role in the business you manage,” said elsehwere.
“Seriously, her behavior was not okay and will eventually make you lose all your good people. OP, it just takes one toxic person to drag down a whole team,” said sydneyunderfoot.