Working towards something together is awfully rewarding and kind of sexy. {How She Does It}

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Today we’re continuing the How She Does It guest post series (just like the book). Today’s post comes from Courtney Buxton. Join me in welcoming her to the blog! 

I was once a medical malpractice attorney. My office was on the 26th floor, and I had an amazing view of Peachtree Street in Atlanta. My daily emotions rotated between intimidated, capable, determined, and eager.

I was young, newly married, and my husband worked at an even bigger law firm. Our lives pretty much revolved around work, and I thought that was the way it was supposed to be.

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Fast forward a few years, and I found myself with a colicky baby in my husband’s hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. I did not want to go back to work. The billable hours, the ridiculous pace, the occasional chauvinistic encounters, the tension and anger of litigation . . . I told everyone that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom instead, and I quit.

But I had no idea what that involved. I treasured my days at home with my two young boys, but in hindsight, I felt a bit lost. It took me years to figure out that what I needed to find my true north again was a paying job. Motherhood is a job, no doubt. I thought it would satisfy me in all ways. Turns out, I needed something more, something else. I am still surprised. 

My story doesn’t end with me returning to a flashy job in a fabulous office, though. I found work much closer to home. My husband opened his own firm in 2010. I helped him behind the scenes as any spouse of a small business owner would: straightening files, running to the post office, and bringing coffee.

We discussed business strategy, and he showed me spreadsheets. Work and family life began to blend. The boys learned how to play quietly (kind of) in the hall outside Daddy’s first office, and they often accompanied me to Staples for “one more thing.”

As the firm grew, it became obvious that we needed an office manager. My husband wanted it to be me. I resisted mightily (In law school we swore we’d never work together! I don’t know how to do it! We need separation between work and home!) but it turns out that my excuses didn’t have much foundation. It’s not essential that work and home be separated.

I learned that falsehood when work was so taxing, and I was doing it all for someone else. In our situation, where my husband was trying to build a business, the opposite was true. This was our thing. It was essential that I get on board.

I am uniquely qualified to help him, he wants me to be there, the kids are old enough, and I needed the change. Not all husbands and wives should work together, I know. But for us, the timing and circumstances were just right. My excuse list ran out.

Now I have a desk in the back room of my husband’s office. I’m there in the mornings, back in the carpool line in the afternoons. It’s nowhere near Peachtree Street, but I’ve never been happier.

I am challenged on a daily basis, and I can still make a school luncheon. I know what is going on in my husband’s world, and he knows what is going on in mine. Work and home life are blended, and for us, it is working out just fine.

Courtney works part time, when the kids are in school. She’s learned so much from “giving in” and working alongside her husband—mostly that Quickbooks will not kill her. Also that working towards something together is awfully rewarding and kind of sexy. She blogs at A Work in Progress.

P.S. My see-saw marriage, and what keeps women from showing up.

Comments

  1. says

    My wife and I work very well together even though our current season in life has us working mostly separate, with the exception of when we are putting on a play for the local community. I think it has something to do with the fact that we mutually respect one another’s talents and gifts. And the fact that we genuinely LIKE to hang around one another as much as possible. We started out as friends, and maybe that helps also.

  2. kelli says

    Thanks for this post, Courtney! My husband owns his own business and works from home and while it’s not an official “job”, per se, I’m around to do the financial side and help him if he needs it. For us, it works. And the comment above by Scott is absolutely right – you have to respect each other’s talents and be friends. But I figure who else would I want to support more – some stranger’s business or my best friend’s?? Thanks again! And thank you, too, Scott, for your comment!

  3. Jennifer H says

    I work with my father which also has some challenges. Although we don’t live together anymore, we did live together full time for 18 years and part time for a few years after that. He knows all my history and I know most of his for the last 45 years. But the benefits are huge – I set my own hours and work from home when I can’t get to the office. We have never once paid for childcare. I volunteer at my son’s school often, and recently have even started subbing a handful of days a year. He turns 11 soon, and I won’t deny that it was much harder in the earlier days to manage, but it is so worth it.

    • says

      Jennifer – What a great arrangement. Working for a family business of any kind (spouse, parent, sibling, etc) can definitely be tricky with all the relationships to negotiate, BUT the upside has been huge for me with the flexibility and peace of mind. I’m glad the same goes for you.

    • says

      Anne – I agree. I am always inspired by the stories of others and how they “make it work” – that’s why I enjoy this series. Thanks for your comment.

  4. says

    My wife and I share the work and the child raising, and while it’s easy to let work creep into family time, we are both happy to have our own work time and family time. Thanks for sharing your story!

  5. Karlyne says

    I think that, traditionally, compartmentalizing our lives has been what men do. They work, and they have a family-and the two things are separate. But, generally, that’s a modern concept. A lot of the “old” jobs, like farming and running small businesses, included a family being around and working, too, and the more the family was involved the better the job went. I liked seeing your solution, and I think it’s a good one for a lot (no, not all!) of families.

  6. Charlena says

    Courtney,don’t you think marriage is like working as a team anyhow (bills,emergencies,parenting)? I feel like my hubby and I are a team, where we work toward the same goals in a loving environment. Making money together is just icing on the cake. I’m glad this works for you! Love this post keep em comin’

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