As a husband and wife photography team, we are often asked what it is like to work
full-time with your spouse. Truthfully? ItÊ¼s like eating your favorite dessert. After every
meal. Every. Single. Day. Add to the mix that we also work out of our house and
home school our 4 and 8-year-old and you have a recipe for either full-time fun or never-
ending disaster. Our days typically consist of a little of both.
The decision to live and work this way is one we sort of fell into. WhitneyÊ¼s degree is
in Counseling Psychology – a career she had put on hold while staying home to raise
the kids (the photography business was a part-time hobby). David worked for 10 years
as a full-time youth minister until his job was downsized. Opportunity often presents
itself in strange and scary ways. We knew we had a decision to make that would prove
to be pivotal in how we chose to live. Do we look for conventional jobs? Or do we take
a leap of faith and live the life of freedom (albeit frightening) we had dreamed of for
We made that leap almost 3 years ago, and hereÊ¼s the truth: it has been hard. Earning an income to support our family with photography is not easy, but we live a
thrifty lifestyle, which helps. Learning to work with a spouse in a day-in day-out capacity
is a challenge for even the strongest marriage, but weÊ¼ve cried and prayed and laughed
our way through it. People talk about renovation being the most difï¬cult thing a
marriage can go through – HA! We renovated our house without so much as a whimper.
Working together is Big Time. Homeschooling our children and working from home has
been crazy and chaotic, but weÊ¼re ï¬nding our groove.
The blessing in all of this is that we are living without regret. We are doing work we
enjoy and for which we have a passion. We have the freedom to travel and spend time
with extended family out of state that is not limited to holidays and weekends. We can
have a mid-morning checker competition with our children. Is there a trade-off? Yes,
but in letting go of the things that donÊ¼t really matter, we are able to focus on the things
Thinking of working with your spouse? Here are some lessons we have learned that
1. Establish your family objectives/goals. Before you begin to evaluate the business,
decide what you want from your marriage and family. Nothing else comes ï¬rst. When
you make a business plan, include personal and family goals on it as well. Dream big,
but leave room for adjustments. When this happens you are free to deï¬ne how you not
only want your business to look, but how the business will help you fulï¬ll the vision you
have for your family life. Work to live, not live to work.
2. Discover yours and your spouses Love Language. Dr. Gary Chapman has written a
groundbreaking book called The 5 Love Languages in which he demonstrates that everyone has a primary way of expressing and receiving love. These ï¬ve ways are:
Words of Afï¬rmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch.
Why is this important? Working with your spouse creates a whole new set of
interpersonal dynamics which can, if not handled properly, lead to compete failure for
your business, and unfortunately, your marriage. Identifying how you and your spouse
communicate love can reduce miscommunication and tension in your relationship (and
who doesnÊ¼t want that?).
To learn more, visit http://www.5lovelanguages.com/learn-the-
languages/the-ï¬ve-love-languages/ and take a Love Language proï¬le to determine your
love language. Honor your spouseÊ¼s love language and stretch yourself to meet those
3. Clearly deï¬ne your roles. The greatest advice we can share is for each of you to
play to your strengths. Neither of you is the be all, end all of your business so donÊ¼t feel
as though you need to master every job of your business. Identify the tasks youÊ¼re best
at and work to honor the common goal. Over time this will build trust and strengthen
your relationship and business.
4. Set boundaries in/for your work. There will always be more work to do (if youÊ¼re
good at what you do itÊ¼s almost certain). However, there will not always be more time
with your spouse, children, and family. Set a starting and ending time to your day and
stick to it. Limit client access to your time. Create a family calendar and prioritize family
5. Spend time together away from the business. If you allow work to the be glue that
connects you to your spouse then you are setting yourself up for disaster should the
business hit hard times. You need to dedicate time together away from work (and
home, if possible). Enjoy your life together engaging in activities that make you both
happy. Give to each other (see point #2) and love on each other lavishly apart from
Check out more of Whitney and David’s work at www.whitneyscottphotography.com