8 Tips On How To Work With Your Spouse For 21 Years In A Row

Sean and Thora Dowdell are the founders and owners of Club Tattoo, one of the largest tattoo and piercing studios in the country. Sean opened the first Club Tattoo studio in 1995. Thora joined the business shortly after they met in 1997. Early on, the couple saw opportunity and capitalized on the untapped tattoo industry. Working side by side for 21 years, the couple became leaders of the tattoo and piercing industry creating a business model worth $30 million dollars. Club Tattoo currently has six locations, with two on the Las Vegas Strip, inside Planet Hollywood and The LINQ Hotel and Casino. Utilizing their individual strengths, Sean serves as the CEO, while Thora serves as the COO.
Remarkably, the couple has been working together for 21 years.
Here are the 8 tips they share about how to work with your spouse and still stay in love.

Have your priorities straight

Write them down to keep reminding both of you what you truly value. We put our relationship first, then family, with the business coming in third. We learned quickly that misplaced priorities caused things to not go well at home or at work.

Have an exit strategy

Yes, this comes second! Going into business together is a huge commitment of time and energy. Having an agreed-upon plan in case a change is necessary will help protect your relationship and the business future. It’s like talking about death; its uncomfortable, however, that moment of clarity comes back around when you least expect it. Things can get confusing and frustrating. Knowing that relationship failure is like the grim reaper waiting for your vulnerable moment; makes all personal and business behavior a “choice” and to avoid taking away all that you love. The “choice” is to work through it.

Define individual skills and passions

Designate your roles within the business. Respect the roles you have chosen and trust your business and life partner. If your skills change in any direction over time; change roles. It’s never a one and done in a growing business.

Communication — communication — communication

“Seek first to understand, then be understood.” The Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Successful People” is a handbook for our life and we teach them in our home and business.

Make a conscious effort to turn off work talk at home at least for a period of time to be present for your family life

It’s unreasonable to assume you can leave work at the office once you’re home; make a conscious effort to turn off work talk at home at least for a period of time to be present for your family life. There are times when we are so busy going in different directions, we don’t get to connect until we get home, and even then, the work can continue until bedtime. However, we determined that both of us need the freedom to say I don’t feel like talking about anything work-related right now and we won’t hold that over each other’s head. Respect “the withdraw” as a deposit in the love bank. Don’t badger, a tired mind being pushed causes disagreements faster than a fresh, happy mind.

Have a sense of humor

Being able to laugh definitely helps when the going gets tough.

Say please and thank you

It never goes out of the success equation. Start your day doing something that sets a positive tone. Discuss plans and goals for that day. Wish each other the best and offer any help.

When you are away from the office, focus on self-care.

We think it is really important to give our brains a rest. We do things that we individually enjoy, connect with our kids together and separately and thanks to my husband spearheading the plans, go on weekly date nights. All of this is crucial to us functioning well at work and at home.

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