Tag Archives: spouse

When your spouse travels for work

My husband is traveling for business a few days. 

A couple of years ago, I would have dreaded that he would be away from home. It would have meant I would have had to put the kids to bed, wake them up, get them ready, pack lunches and do all the cooking and cleaning — by myself. 

But now, things are different. I have only one child left at home, a teenager who is pretty self sufficient. Now, my husband's business travel means I don't have to make dinner. Last night, my son and I had leftovers. And, because my husband is away, we didn't even bother doing the dishes. They're still sitting in the sink. My son isn't about to complain.

What's more, I stayed up last night until way past midnight enjoying all the television shows I love to watch and he doesn't. I watched almost the entire season of HBO Girls. Again. 

Of course, I miss my husband and look forward to his return, but sometimes, alone time is just what a busy working parent needs. A recent Hilton Garden Inn survey found that 67 percent of women whom they surveyed confessed to wanting their significant others to go away on business trips so they could have time to themselves. 

Sometimes, my night to myself may include plowing through the stack of unread magazines I have on my nightstand or devouring a good book. I have had women who travel for work confess to me that they sometimes look forward to the night in the hotel room alone for the same reasons as I do — to get some alone time. I find complete, uninterrupted immersion in entertainment of my choice extremely relaxing.

So how do you spend time to yourself when either you or your significant other travels? Do you have a go-to routine that you look forward to?

(Share your answer on my Facebook page for a chance to win a weekend getaway!)



The Work/Life Balancing Act

Could you work with your spouse?



My husband and I used to drive work together from Aventura to downtown Miami. He is a morning person. I am not. He would rush me out the door and then try to make conversation as soon as I shut the car door. Some days, he would sing along happily to cheery tunes. By the time he dropped me off at my office, I was ready to strangle him. I need my space.

Yet, around me I see many couples who work, live and play together without any tension. In fact, they make it look easy. Helen and Jacob Shaham are a great example. They built their company together from it's start in 1980. Today the couple own and operate nine senior communities under The Palace brand, including two in Homestead plus one under construction, four in Kendall, one in Coral Gables, one in Tel Aviv. They also developed an active adult community in Weston and they own and operate The Palace at Home, a home health agency.

They have worked side by side for 36 years.  How do they do it? 

In honor of the upcoming Valentine's Day, Helen shares her survival tips.

1. Divide responsibilities. Jacob is the visionary. He selects future Palace sites while overseeing financial and legal aspects.  I am in charge of marketing, architectural and interior design, customer service, the hospitality and human resources. We both are heavily involved in construction decisions and development.  I may be at a site frequently to review construction aspects in the design of the building and units while Jacob is involved with the general contractors. We recognize when specialists are needed and hire top talent and consultants.

2. Respect the talents of one another. We would not be able to build The Palace Group without the respect and trust in each other.  We disagree and fight, but in the end we hear each other’s point of view. At the time of our original partnership with Lennar, I needed to be convinced it was the right move at the time.  Jacob explained we couldn’t do it alone. He was able to convince me but the final decision took two years.

3. Build a case by putting it in writing. When I want something I find the best way is to write it down to build my case.  It may take the form of a 5-10 page letter but it’s the best way to explain my point of view.

4. Make it a family affair. We wanted our children to be exposed to what we were doing. Dinner was like a board meeting because we had so many issues to discuss about The Palace. When the kids left for college, we were building The Palace Tel Aviv and without the children, dinner was watching the 8:00 news to learn about Israel.  Now at dinner we really don’t talk about work.  Our two sons are involved in the company—Zack is the Executive Director of The Palace Gardens, the assisted living community in Homestead and Haim is the Director of Sales for The Palace Coral Gables.  Our niece, Liat Cohen, is Corporate Human Resources Recruiter.

5. Recognize your differences.  I am the pessimist while Jacob is the optimist. I wake up and think what can go wrong and what disasters can occur but Jacob balances me. He can look up at the sky in the morning and enjoy the beauty of the day.  In the morning, I have learned to not start talking about the problems we may face that day and enjoy his perspective. 

6. Don't compete with your spouse. Spouses aren’t competitors. Neither of us has to be right.  Working together means everyone will share credit.

7. Have separate hobbies and interests. Jacob enjoys golf and playing courses where we travel; I am an avid reader and a fitness fanatic.  I log my steps walking each day.  I also enjoy estate sales and have collected many of antiques that are used in Palace communities.

8. Be passionate about your business.  Both of us usually can be found at one of our communities. We make an effort to be accessible to our employees and talk and listen to them. We try to have lunch with not just managers but our hourly employees too.  It’s not unusual to invite managers to meetings at our home as well. We make a concerted effort to learn about everyone.

9. Hold on to family traditions. Regardless of our schedule, it's tradition for the family to come together for Friday night (Sabbath) dinner and usually 20-25 may gather at our home. 

10. Be crazy in love with each other. Love has carried us through the many challenges we have faced over 36 years.


Readers, what are your thoughts about working with your spouse? Do you think it would enhance your marriage as it as for the Shahams, or would it destroy it?


The Work/Life Balancing Act

Should your spouse come to the job interview too?


Have you noticed at the Academy Awards, all winners thank their spouses. It's the people you are married to who suffer the consequences of an all consuming job. 

Before taking a job, most of us discuss it with our spouses. We tend to look at what this position means for us and also for our spouse and family — more money, less time at home, more travel, etc. When I saw an article about a trend toward more companies interviewing candidates' spouses before they take high level positions, it made sense to me. In fact, I applaud the move.

An article in Corporate Counsel says ThoughSpot, a business intelligence company, invites a prospective employee's partner to meet with CEO Ajeet Singh in the final round of interviews. "I want spouses to know that we're not a company full of mercenaries that are going to bleed their families dry and not care about their life outside of work," Singh told Business Insider. 

While some lawyers advise against companies taking this approach, I think it's fabulous. The legal concern is that the candidate could claim discrimination if the spouses raises a concern and the applicant assumes the offending information was used in the final decision, thus opening a possible discrimination claim. 

Yes, that's a risk. However, when you're hiring someone and you have the buy-in of a spouse, you've already alleviated some of the tension that can interfere with job satisfaction. Americans today are working long hours. We're getting calls from work long after we've returned home. We're checking our email at the dinner table. There are so many ways work interferes with our home lives. So, if you're going to call my husband during dinner, at least tell me the benefits of the job so I can see past the infringement it makes on my home life. 

Recently, board members of a non profit organization were complaining to me. They hired a CEO and expected his wife to be involved, too. In the last year, she's come to very few of the organization's events. She has made it clear, she sees her participation as unnecessary. Had the board interviewed her along with her spouse, they would have known her position upfront.

When your spouse is going through a job search, you are emotionally attached to the outcome. It is much better for your relationship to have someone outside your home coaching him or her through the process. But when the search comes to the point where someone is seriously considering a position, I see it as a win-win for all to air expectations during the interview process.

What are your thoughts? Do you think a spouse should be part of late-stage job interviews? 

The Work/Life Balancing Act

How a spouse can doom your work life balance success




Sheryl Sandberg, the outspoken COO of Facebook, repeatedly has said one of the most important career moves you make is who you marry. I see that played out, over and over, sometimes in a positive way, and sometimes not. 

Just as lack of consensus around finances can doom a marriage, lack of support from your husband or wife can effectively sink a career. For decades, it's been wives who have supported their husbands careers — emotionally and physically. But now that most couples are dual earners, the whole dynamics of career priority are changing in marriages. Men are being asked to do more at home as women do more at the office.

Earlier this week, NPR Morning Edition featured a stay-at-home dad for its "The Changing Lives of Women" series.  Jonathan Heisey-Groves and his wife, Dawn, a public health analyst, didn't exactly plan for Jonathan to be a stay-at-home parent to Egan, 5, and Zane, who's 4 months old. The Heisey-Groves were both working full time when he lost his job as a graphic designer.  Jonathan stayed home at first just to save money on child care. But then, Dawn got a promotion.

 "She took a position at her company that involved a lot of travel, last-minute work, late nights and so forth," he says. "And I have some understanding of how it feels to be in that position, so I try to be as supportive as I can."

You might not be married to a Jonathan, who is willing to give up his career to raise the kids, but are you married to someone who wants you to succeed in your job? Are you showing your spouse the physical and emotional support that he or she needs to succeed? 

Think about that before you answer….

A friend of mine complained for weeks that her husband was going to accept a promotion that involved more travel. For her, it meant she would need to leave work earlier to pick their kids up from after school care. But instead of talking it through, she informed him he can't take the promotion. Now they're both resentful. 

Monique Valcour, a professor of management at EDHEC Business School in France, has just published a great article on the Harvard Business Review blog called the Dual-Career Mojo that Makes Couples Thrive. She gives suggestions for how to be more supportive of each other's careers. They're so good I'm sharing them with you (edited a bit with my own comments added in) 

Communicate priorities: Talk early and often about what matters most to both of you. In other words, you want to avoid realizing too late (e.g., when you've already called a divorce lawyer) that there is a big gap between what you say you care about most and how you actually invest your time and energy.

Talk about work at home: Look for solutions together that will reduce career-related conflicts and maximize opportunities for career enrichment between the members of the couple. Valcour says,  "My husband and I routinely help each other decide how to approach issues we encounter in our careers by listening, asking questions, and offering a broader perspective."

Think like a team. This often means taking turns. Dual career couples who are movie actors often take turns being away on set and home with the kids. Valcour notes that many dual-career couples confer with each other before accepting travel commitments to ensure that both parents are never away at the same time. In  less successful dual-career partnerships, each partner's interest in the other's career is often more self-referential — as in, "How will my partner's work demands or rewards affect me?" as opposed to "How do we meet the demands and enjoy the rewards together?"

Ask for help. Your partner may be willing to let you sacrifice some family time to do what you need to do at work or to go back to school. This takes open communication and the ability to help the other person overcome guilt.

Be open to change.  Modern careers don't typically follow a predictable path; the road is ever-changing. That's where a spouse's support is critical. Let's say your business suddenly takes off or your boss offers you a promotion. That inevitably impacts your home life in a way your spouse might not have expected. Valcour notes that few people make it all the way through a career without experiencing an unexpected company event that affects their career prospects, a significant failure, an apparent success that turns out to be unsatisfactory, or a desire to make a significant change. As changes occur, remember the upside of dual career marriages. Having two careers takes the pressure off either person to be responsible for all of the material support of the family unit. Of course, both spouses have to believe that to be true.

Readers, has your spouse been a powerful resources in helping you work through career and life challenges? If not, in what ways has a lack of support created havoc in your personal and professional success?

The Work/Life Balancing Act

Want to grow your business? Get your spouse on board!



(Above: Panel of female entrepreneurs share tips at the Women's Success Summit in Miami)


Ginny  Simon, mother
of four boys, saw an empty nest in her future. So, she became an entrepreneur.

It didn’t exactly happen overnight. But it happened in a big
way. Ginny makes organic, gluton-free baked goods. She has landed her products on
the shelves of massive retailers such as Fresh Market and Whole Foods. Her
volume is so large that she has had to build a 8,500-square-foot commercial
kitchen. The idea for Ginny Bakes sprouted from Ginny's consulting business. She started out as a holistic nutritionist and self-professed “health nut” and came
up with the idea for her company when she was unable to find baked goods for her clients.

On Tuesday, Ginny and other successful entrepreneurs shared the stage and offered advice at the Women’s Success Summit in Miami. I learned a lot from them as they shared pearls of
wisdom with aspiring entrepreneurs:

  • “It takes passion and believing in your product
    to overcome challenges,” Ginny said. She has reinvested all profits back into the business as it grows, but she remains confident the investment will pay off. She says she’s careful
    to listen to the feedback and tailor her products to what people want. “Creative
    people are not brilliant but they listen well,” she said.


  • “Know your purpose and how your business
    fulfills that purpose,” said Susie Taylor, President & Head of Product Development, Bibbitec. Susie says her purpose
    is staying passionately ethical as she builds her business, a unique baby bib. She had an opportunity to sell her Bibbitec to
    a company that planned to take the manufacturing to China. She chose to keep it and
    have her unique bibs made locally in Hialeah. She is about to appear on ABC's "Shark Tank."



  • “Founding a company may be your passion,
    but if you can’t make money, it’s not a business,” said Carol Fenster, Co-Founder, Baby Abuelita, which has had major success marketing bilingual dolls. She recently
    licensed her toy products and is developing an assortment of new products. 


  • “You cannot be an expert in everything, which is
    why I surround myself with experts. As you grow, you have to visualize the
    business working without you. Take the time to mentor people who can take the work load off you," said Leila Chang Ripich, CEO,
    Florida Dental Benefits, Founder & President, Ideal Lifestyle Concierge.



  • “You have to ask yourself, ‘are you building a
    business or creating a job for yourself?’ ” said founder of the Women’s Success
    Summit, Michelle Villalobos. “If you are interested in building a business,
    look around for a mentor, someone who has had success with what you’re trying to do.”


All of the women said that when you are married, it’s important to get your spouse’s
support – and that’s something that may take time. Ginny and Susie revealed their husbands, both lawyers, were reluctant about their ventures, particularly about reinvesting profits. But with success came approval. Both spouses now work for their wives businesses. 


The Work/Life Balancing Act