When He Says He’s Busy, He Really Means He’s Busy

I worked for my husband on Monday, or should I say with? Working for sounds very 1950s. My husband is a small business owner and found himself in one of those small business owner perfect storms that can lead to drinking scotch with a Maalox chaser at 8 a.m. One of his employees had strep throat, he had to let a relatively new employee go last week, and his front desk manager had already planned to take the holiday off to spend with her son.

It was actually, dare I say, “fun” to help out at his shop (he’s into computers, just fyi). I’m not technical at all. I don’t know a gigabyte from a mosquito bite, but I answered the phone and tried to field calls as best I could without hanging up on anyone.

Do any of you have family businesses? And do any of you work with your spouse? For various reasons, including the all important health insurance coverage through my employer, I’m still working in my own chosen career field. So far it hasn’t made sense for me to work full-time with my husband. I’d like to eventually help him out more, but more than likely I’d be wearing my marketing/PR/corporate communications hat and it would be on a part-time basis. And also there’s the possibility that we could kill each other if we worked together full time.

The most eye opening thing for me on Monday was to have more insight into my husband’s crazy day. It’s tough when kids, work, deadlines, obligations, customers, clients, and bills clamor for attention and weigh your marriage down with the heavy burden of responsibility. Instead of empathizing with your spouse you find yourself angry and recalling a simpler time when you didn’t have to be such adults. Sometimes I look at my girls and I recall that freedom of responsibility of being a child.

When my husband comes home at night and says it’s been a rough day, he really means it. Whereas a rough day for me might mean that I had to make a second trip to the copy room to pick up a document or I couldn’t get a primo parking place and it was raining and I forgot my umbrella or I had to wait my turn before firing up our gourmet coffee maker in the break room.

My parents ran a construction business together and legend has it that my mother was doing payroll from her hospital bed shortly after giving birth to her fourth child (that child would be me). Instead of bringing my mother flowers or a pair of diamond earrings, my father brought her the cumbersome company checkbook and an adding machine (remember, it was 1969.) My parents have also been divorced for 30 years.


  1. jag says:

    I credit your hubby with teaching me literally everything I know about PCs, and I remember how busy he was 8 years ago when the company I was with at the time was using his services. I can only imagine how it is now. I’m glad he’s been successful, even if it is crazy.

  2. Jenny says:

    We have a family business. My father owns a big Taxidermy company.

    Luckily I escaped to the big city and never looked back. Yeehaw for not having to stick my hand into dead animals.

  3. malia says:

    I think it definitely depends on the couple. That’s really sad about your folks, I think that some people just can’t work together and I think you see that between you and your husband. It’s good to recognize now and not when it’s too late!

    I used to work for a married couple/small business owners and they were quite an inspiration to me. It was an interesting thing to watch the dynamics between the two of them. They could switch between talking about the business and their children seemlessly and with little acrimony. They would get irritated with each other about business stuff and then in the next breath be discussing lunch plans!

  4. Busy Mom says:

    Did you meet my husband? I think he was in there on Monday to return the equipment I have been inadvertently holding hostage.

  5. Blonde Mom says:


    I should add that my parents actually get along great now. 😉

    I’m actually going to help the hubby out tonight with a small tech column for the Nashville One Paper. That will be a “fun” project for us to collaborate on. (yes I’m a nerd)

    Busy Mom:

    I didn’t get to meet him. I did leave about 5, though. We’re doing spring soccer and I will be on the look out for the Busy family!

  6. mayberry says:

    I KNOW my husband and I could not work together. One of us would be dead inside of a week. However, we do work in related industries (me: media/communications; him: advertising) so we share a bit of shoptalk sometimes, which is kind of nice.

  7. RichieAnn says:

    I think having seperate interests in work and play is a benefit to a marriage. Being together all the time would be hard and there wouldn’t be much else to talk about except work. There should be your interests, his interests, and yours together.

    But remember how hard he works the next time you get angry at the division of household chores!

  8. Mrs. M says:

    I have my own business, but it’s on the side. I do monogramming and other custom made goodies. I’m far to afraid to take it full time and quit my job as the corporate doormat. (I mean, who doesn’t wanna be the corp doormat?) I don’t have plans to ever open up a shop more than just my home, but would love to do an e-commerce business with it. However since I’m contemplating grad school, it’s not a good time to pick that up because then I’d have to drop it all to be grad student/corporate doormat, which I will be as I go to school, if I go to school. Anyway, the goal is it will be big enough to be my “job” when we start a family, which won’t be for another 3 years, unless we name our child oops, which would be horribly tragic.

    I’ve not even been married a year so in my love struck newlywed state I think how perfect it would be if J and I worked side by side all day all the time typing withour outside hands as we lovingly caressed one another’s cheek with the the other….har har har har har! I know better though. We used to work at the same place, but in different departments. That was nice.

  9. mamatulip says:

    Great post, Jamie — this is something that Dave and I talk about quite a bit, because he comes home and starts talking about his day in his work jargon and I just smile and nod. I mentioned the other day, after a particularly long day, that I wished we could change places for a day. He was surprised and asked if I meant it. I thought about it for a second and then said no.

  10. Anne says:

    whoa on your birthday, Jamie. Good LORD. My husband is a SBO and I used to have my own before Emma was born but we’ve never worked together more than helping each other out in a rough spot. Hell, Shan totally helped me set up my business but he couldn’t do any of the actual microscope work or reports. And his job? No thanks. He has to crawl too many subcontractors arses too often. I’m not nearly that assertive.
    I do like the idea of working together…it just seems like it requires certain personalities to make it functional.

  11. laura says:

    I worked with my husband when I still worked (ahem – outside the home, that is!). I LOVED IT. If I ever have to have a “job” again, I would only want to work with him. We are just each other’s favorite people to be with, so it makes sense for us. I still really miss that part of our lives. Sometimes I still do copyediting for him, but it’s not the same with the sleep deprived brain and the screaming kid in the background. 🙂

  12. Amanda says:

    I just told my husband that his new name is I can do everything better than you and while I am at it I will one up You” That didn’t go over well. It wouldn’t work well.

    Did you get my email? I explained on my post. I miss you!!!!!

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