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Lovers at Work ...

Do you think it can be a good idea to work with your wife or huband in the same dev. team ?

Do you think it can be dangerous ?
Or do you think you can have a very balanced life working with your partner.
Any juicy annecdotes ? ;-)

We're looking for a Junior developer and I would like to suggest my fiancé to my boss.

Bjarne Ericsson
Monday, December 29, 2003


Just, don't.

Or, do, and cancel the wedding.

IMHO, being engaged is a somewhat fragile time where part of your mind is looking for reasons not to get married. Spending 18 hours a day together, 8-10 of that in a stressful, adversarial environment, is pretty much a recipe for ending a relationship.

Unless it's the only job your fiancee can get, then I simply recommend against it.

(another practical reason - if the company goes under, you're both out of work)

Having said that, I wouldn't recommend anyone else for the job, either. Not if she's likely to hear about it. [grin]


Monday, December 29, 2003

I suspect that if you have to ask, you already know the answer.

You're mileage may vary, not applicable in all situations, blah, blah, blah...

The natural tension of dead lines and project mechanics ruins friendships all the time. Adding in the marriage dynamic and you have a very scary situation (unless your spouse works in some far flung division and your paths won't cross because of work).

I do speak from first hand experience. And no, I don't really want to share. :)

Mark Smith
Monday, December 29, 2003

If you work together, then figure it will be short term (the job or your relationship).  You will either over compensate, and be harder on her than you are others, or under compensate and be "agreeing cause you want some at home."   

When you get home, "bitching" about the day you had will fall on unsympathetic ears, and then there is ego.  What happens when they like her more than you, or want to dump her?

Monday, December 29, 2003

I have to agree with the previous posters, especially Philo.  This is a "fragile" time and unless you want to put the relationship through a severe stress test early, find another option.

Monday, December 29, 2003

No way.  Horrible idea!

No matter how well things go with your co-workers, there are always little conflicts.  Do you want them seeping into your relationship/marriage?  Any problems with your professional or personal relationship will start to poison the other one.

Only way I would consider this is if my significant other was working at the same company, but I wasn't working directly with her... if she was in some other department or something.  NOT on the same team... my God... you must have lost your mind to even be asking this question!

John Rose
Monday, December 29, 2003

a very bad idea.
do not do it. the number of scenarios in which all might work out well for you, her, and the company is dwarfed by the number of scenarios in which all works out badly for one of you or the company.

it's a little like setting up your retirement planning on the premise that "first, I will win the lottery..."  It **could** happen, but geeze, guy, do you really want to play those odds for things as important as your primary relationship and your job?

the only way I'd say it's marginally ok is if the two of you worked in totally different areas and ended up in completely separate departments in a large company.

good luck you to regardless, but I think you're tempting fate if you go ahead with this.

Monday, December 29, 2003

It depends on your relationship and on the individuals.

I not only work at the same company as my husband, but in the same office (as in four walls and a door). 

I can't imagine working for different companies, or even for different departments. We work (mostly) on the same projects and spend most of our time every day in the same room.  And we still don't always know what happened to the other during the day.  Working in different rooms or buildings - there would be so much of each other's life that we would miss out on sharing.

That said:
-I would not recommend sharing your workplace unless you are truly "married" - in the sense that it is a true joining of two into one and divorce is not an option.  Otherwise if your relationship ends, you have two aspects of your life that are now messed up.
-Planning for a wedding is very stressful - up there with serious injuries and deaths in the family.  This has nothing to do with "looking for reasons not to get married" (what kind of nonsense is that, anyway?  If you are thinking about why not to get married, you shouldn't have proposed in the first place.  But I digress)  I agree that an engagement period might not be the time.
-Personal space is important.  If you work together, you might find it harder to balance personal time and couple time, especially if, as a couple, you have not mastered the art of being apart while being together (without totally shutting out your spouse, of course...).
-Arguments must not be carried into the workplace.  Nothing more damaging for your professional and private lives than fighting in front of your co-workers.  So if you are not good at conflict resolution and/or if you bicker a lot working together is probably not a good idea.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Just for the record, my 15th anniversary is next June (lest some think I'm talking out my backside about making relationships work)

I've talked to/counseled a LOT of people on relationship issues. I know exactly what I'm saying when I say that a lot of people spend their engagement thinking "is this really the right person for me?" As the pressure mounts, every disagreement, every difference of opinion seems to come into sharp relief.

IMHO, for most people, working together runs a good chance of introducing odd points of argument as well as amplifying what should be silly little disagreements. In addition, in the event of fights or arguments, there's no room to "cool off" - you're forced together like gas in a bottle.

It's like someone else said - planning two major parts of your life with the expectation that "working and living together will go swimmingly" is like planning retirement with "1 - win the lottery"  ;-)

My opinion only, of course.


Monday, December 29, 2003

You found someone who can code?!?  Lucky bastard.

Robbert de Groot
Monday, December 29, 2003

I think it's a great idea!

Maybe keep live ferets in your desk and get a start on a crack habit as well.

Monday, December 29, 2003

And on the other side of things...

If you are OK with working together, you still need to ask yourself if you really want your entire familial income tied up in one company.  I.e. if they go out of business, you are going to be doubly screwed.

Flamebait Sr.
Monday, December 29, 2003

I dunno...sometimes husband/wife teams can produce great results:

( )

But of course, such cases are certainly not the norm.  I think it also helps when you and your significant other are running your own company as opposed to working for someone else, as CEOs are typically the least affected by office politics...

Tim Lara
Monday, December 29, 2003

Wow.  Lots of negative opinions here.  My wife and I worked together for a number of years, co-running a department.  I was in charge of development, she was in charge of operations, customer service, requirements analysis, etc.  We had some fights occasionally, but mainly because I was very insistent on not having "ex parte" communication where we talked about stuff outside the office (that other people on the team thus wouldn't get to participate in).

We both enjoyed the experience, and would do it again.  But, we have very strong shared values, highly complementary skills, and had already been together for several years and married for a few before we even started doing that.

Phillip J. Eby
Monday, December 29, 2003

If you can't work near/with your spouse you either: 1) Shouldn't be married or 2) Shouldn't be married to that person.  Any pair of grown ups should be able to make something like this work.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Phibian, Phillip, and Chris - you all talked about working with your spouses.

The question was about working with your fiancee.

IMHO, there's a world of difference.

However, let me also add, in all sincerity, that you should be wary of offering advice on relationships based on your own success. People are different, and you don't know the first thing about Bjarne and his beloved. To say "I bought a thousand lottery tickets and won, so you should too"* is really doing the recipient of the advice a disservice, especially when you don't know the first thing about them.


*It's the analogy that just keeps giving.

Monday, December 29, 2003

philo's got a key point folks... fiancee is not the same as veteran couple

personally, I've been married about 20 years (to the same person). we've worked together (not professionally though) in a wide variety of situations, including through some pretty severe adversity.

we're very complimentary in many situations, but by this point in our relationship, we know each other pretty well and can judge what circumstances would be ok for us to work together in and which would not be ok. Also, -- and this is a REALLY BIG thing -- depending on what we're doing, we alternate who more or less takes the "lead". It happens pretty naturally now.

The point is, when my wife and I were a young couple, we didn't know these things about each other.

Yeah, hell, it might work for some of you, in fact it might work for us today -- but then we're a 20 - year veteran couple.

If the couple tries it, they might make it all work out ok, but the odds are stacked against them. Would especially get challenging to the relationship if one or the other ends up in a supervisory position over the other or ends up getting obviously different treatment (e.g. better liked around the office). Heh - what happens when layoffs come and one of them is laid off but not the other? Or what happens if one is the supervisor and has to choose -- potentially -- to lay off the other?

Monday, December 29, 2003

Bjarne: there's no way we'd ever have enough data on your relationship to answer your question with a "yes it's a good idea" / "no it isn't".  But the anecdotes are amusing, and perhaps they will illuminate some facets you hadn't thought of before.

Monday, December 29, 2003


Ben and Mena Trott are brother & sister, not husband & wife. (Common misconception.)

Anonymous Coward
Monday, December 29, 2003

Ummm, they're husband and wife -- RTFP.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Go ahead and do it!  Working on the same team with a lover is a great thing.  It means there will a single woman and/or a job available soon, which makes life nicer for me!

Underemployed and Single
Monday, December 29, 2003

The percentage of couples that could make this viable is miniscule irrespective of what you've been told here.  Don't believe it...  ask around or better yet, try it.

'I would rather shave my eyebrows with a cheese grater while chewing on tin-foil'  ~Fraser Crane

Monday, December 29, 2003

Regardless of whether you think you and your finacee could manage this ok, don't forget to consider the impact your working together would have on other members of the team. Having two people that are perceived to be that closely allied could ruin the team dynamics. Support one another in a meeting, even for totally plausible reasons, and some people will likely assume that you're doing it because of your special relationship. And so on.

John C.
Monday, December 29, 2003

This doesn't violate company policy?  Many companies disallow people with close personal relationships (spouses, fiances, siblings, parent/child, etc.) from working together.  Especially when one has some authority over the other, as it seems would be in this case (you mentioned "junior developer").

T. Norman
Monday, December 29, 2003

"Phibian, Phillip, and Chris - you all talked about working with your spouses. The question was about working with your fiancee."

Actually, as I believe I may have mentioned in my response (first line...), whether working with your "lover" is a good idea or not depends on the individuals involved and the relationship you have.  What society calls your relationship is somewhat irrelevant if you are trying to determine whether you will have a positive experience working together.  But I digress.

I only mentioned my case because everyone else in the thread to that point was so negative.  I'd actually give the same advice for any close relationship (In addition to working with my husband, I have also worked with my brother, father and close friend, so I have a fair amount of experience here) - funnily enough I still have the same comments...

Furthermore, FWIW, I started out working with my husband several years before we were married, so I can probably comment on the fiancee aspect of it as well.  Wait- I did - not only does it depend on the individuals and relationship, but the relationship must be completely committed or you will find yourself with a mess when the relationship ends. 

Mind you, we didn't spend our engagement contemplating whether we really ought to be getting married; we were too busy planning the wedding...

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

If you're really secure that you can do this without damaging your relationship and if you objectively think that your partner would be the best candidate for this job, I'd say go for it. Otherwise, I wouldn't risk it.

One thing to think about is this: what if a co-worker, particularly someone reporting to you, had a work-related issue with your partner? Would you be comfortable handling that and would you be able to help co-workers feel comfortable approaching you about it?

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

It strikes me as odd that most of us don't have a problem working with good friends in the same company, and we have plenty of experience with separating our private and professional lives ... yet when it comes to fiancees, wives and husbands it's suddenly a whole new ball of wax.  I thought significant others were supposed to be, among other things, really good friends too - or am I just too naive?

It also seems to me that, at least in theory, many of the interpersonal skills necessary in marriage should be transferrable to the workplace, such as the ability to resolve disagreements and make compromises.

Disclaimer: I'm not married (yet!), so my theories are probably worth less than the electrons used to convey them.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

It is a far different thing to make a good business decision that is unpleasant for a friend vs. being unpleasant for a significant other, a sibling, or a parent.  From the company's perspective, the conflict of interest and potential loss of objectivity is too great when relationships are that close.  And the perception of favoritism (even if it isn't real) can be enough by itself to destroy the dynamics in a team.

T. Norman
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Friendships at work aren't a problem because most friendships don't involve intense emotion, and don't have the opportunities for "issues" outside the workplace.

Companies discourage developing relationships among coworkers - as for hiring coworkers that have a relationship, obviously they can control that up front. In addition, I think those days are near gone anyway.

"Mind you, we didn't spend our engagement contemplating whether we really ought to be getting married; we were too busy planning the wedding... "

Phibian, seriously, and with all due respect - you're being extremely myopic with this topic. I understand you have a great relationship, and things went storybook for you. Congratulations. Let me tell you that it's not the same for everyone, and as I indicated before, you would be well-served realizing that before giving relationship advice.


Tuesday, December 30, 2003

I met my current girlfriend (whom I will be marrying) at work. We did not date at work, she got the best offer at a new place and left the company, then we persued the interests we had with each other that were not work related. I think the one big plus was we instantly lost the commonality of work place connection and got to see how the other aspects of ourselves drew each of us closer.

Where we worked had strict rules about these things. I know a manager there almost lost his job until his fiancee offered to move out of the group entirely (she went from engineering to sales). I also never date or have a relationship other then work centered with people whom are employeed by the same company as I. I feel it is just an unprofessional thing to do.

I would worry about the company then knowing the exact level of income for your family. Also the idea of having all of your financial eggs in one basket seems dangerous.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Hmm.  Generally, there are many reasons to be skeptical, as mentioned by others.

On the other hand, I work with my spouse right now (company of 8, but I program and he's support).  I'm helping plan the wedding of a friend who got a job in not dissimilar circumstances.  And my parents work together, and with a couple they've been friends with for 15 years now (those four plus a college intern are the whole business in fact).  So it's not impossible.

I've had good experiences: learning from the opposite side of an argument, having the chance to explain "throwing an exception" or "GOTO considered harmful" or "return 12 implementations."  Actually, when another poster mentioned it being harder to gripe about work -- if anything, it's easier because you have the shared context.  You can't get the outside perspective from your spouse any more, but the likelihood of having a trustworthy friend outside the company to ask...well, I never had the inside perspective before, and now I do.

Bad experiences: instability or lack of money suck, release cycles suck even if you're in different departments...  The arguments that bleed over from home to work make the coworkers uncomfortable (going out to lunch is always a good choice here).  And, the arguments/discussions that bleed over from work to free time tend to annoy us.

I suspect anyone who's arguing it's dangerous to do this would also believe it's reckless to pick a business partner from a temp agency. ;)  Everyone has to make their own decision about the risks and rewards...that's really not much of a conclusion, is it?

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

I would never do it. If my wife got a job at the company that I work, I would start looking for a new job immediatly. It's much preferable than to have to look for a new wife.

There is an old saying that applies: Don't shit where you eat. I have a great relationship with my wife, but we still, on rare occasions, have troubles. I would hate for that to carry over into my work.  Or, more likely, a disagreement at work carrying over to home.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

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