I talk a lot on this blog and on Instagram using the “we” pronoun. This maybe a tad confusing since usually when I post images, they are just of me or of Radley. And no, when I say “we” I’m not talking about my dog Radley and I, though I do jokingly call him my work assistant since he keeps me company while I work from home.
The “we” behind Sweet Horizon Studio is actually myself and my fiancé Mike. Even though he doesn’t show his face around here all that often, he’s still massively important to the day to day running of this little business.
Mike still has a day job totally unrelated to Sweet Horizon, so I see him as the real champ here that spends his evenings and weekends helping me achieve my own work goals. He listens to me talk about my business day in and day out, bless him. Most people would’ve lost their mind already with how much I talk about/obsess over my job.
He’s also a full time developer, so any tech or coding issues I run into, he’s the guy that jumps in and helps me solve them. He proofreads
most all of my client proposals and blog posts for me because a second pair of eyes is better than one. He’s the first person to encourage me to learn new skills (like coding PHP) and happily jumps in beside me to take courses or go to workshops to learn as well. When I decided I was going to start a podcast, guess who offered to do all the audio editing. And before we met he knew very little about photography but now takes 90% of the photos for this blog and is my second shooter for all weddings. Have I mentioned what a champ he is??
I could brag on my man all day, every day, but the honest truth is working together for these past couple of years has been unbelievably awesome and also really freaking hard. For one, since he works 8-5 and then comes home to sometimes more work, there are times where things don’t get done because he’s tired, I’m tired, we’re all tired. And we’ve found that we work very, very differently from one another. So it’s definitely been a learning experience, but one that I think we’ve taken in stride and have grown a lot, together and individually.
We continue to learn a lot about each other
Moving in with your significant other teaches you a LOT about them. Working with them teaches you even more. Like, holy moly. You have to be able to communicate well with one another and know what the other person needs when things are going smoothly AND when it’s 3am on day 9 of attempting to figure out one line of code that’s not working. Because trust me, both situations will happen at some point.
Some super important things we’ve learned about one other:
We have different ways that we like to work
Working together brings out a side of your partner that you rarely get to witness, and sometimes that jives with your work style and sometimes it doesn’t. Mike and I happen to work very differently and we need different environments in order to focus. I’m a VERY goal oriented worker and can stay focused for hours on end. Case in point, this past Sunday I worked for around 15 hours straight. I’m fully aware that my work ethic is not always a positive thing. Mike needs breaks every 30 minutes or so just to take a brief recess and come back refreshed. That’s probably a healthier approach.
When it comes to where we like to work, Mike needs to be in an environment that’s solely for work, so we usually head to a coffee shop. That way he only brings his computer, headphones, and notebook and can crank out work like no other. I like working in a coffee shop too, but I LOVE being cozy when I’m working. I’m talking fuzzy robe, slippers, a full pot of freshly brewed coffee, and cozying up on the most comfortable spot on the couch. What can I say, I’m a total homebody. Mike finds too many distractions at home and I get it. It can be hard to ignore laundry that needs to be done, or books that could be read. But comfort will always come first in my ideal work environment.
Different things inspire us both
For the most part I’m fairly self motivated and like I said, I’m very goal oriented. I’m more productive when I can make a to-do list and sit down and just hammer through everything I need to do. Mike needs a little bit more time to think through the problem at hand before diving in. Both tactics get the job done, but I’ve had to learn to be patient when he doesn’t immediately hit the ground running or plan out a project to the nth degree like I prefer to do.
Rest looks different for us both
Even though I work from home, I’m also such a homebody that I’m totally down for nights at home. I wasn’t kidding when I said comfort is a priority of mine. Taking a break from work for me means taking time to think my own thoughts and do some self care. A strenuous workout, a long shower, a facemask, a good book or movie, not stressing about anything, just being plain old lazy. The introvert in me needs this time to recharge and feel ready for the next round of work.
I think Mike likes this type of evening, but much prefers to rest by hanging out with friends. His idea of down time and taking a break from work is by getting out of the house and meeting up with friends for dinner or drinks. I love this kind of night as well, but I don’t find it restful like he does.
But we’ve both had to recognize that we both need down time in our own specific way. We can’t spend every night out, or I will feel totally drained. We can’t spend every night in because he will start to get stir crazy.
Furthermore, we can’t work every evening either. Even though that’s our only time to work together, we both absolutely need rest in some form or fashion.
We have to honor each other’s strengths and be patient each other’s weaknesses
This is true of any relationship, but it’s especially true when you work together. There are things he’s much better at when it comes to running a business and then there are things I’m better at and can pick up the slack.
He can keep his cool under pressure like no one I’ve ever seen. This is something I struggle with. I’m one of those people that comes unglued under pressure. So when I’m at the end of my rope on those 3am evenings where we’ve been working for 15 hours straight, he’s the one that has to take over in that instance and handle what needs to get done. I’m also not patient at all (working on that!) and he’s like the world’s most patient person. Even if he loses his cool with me, he never shows it. Me… not so much.
But when it comes to planning and following through with said plan, that’s my strong suit. When I have a vision for something, I’ll be damned if I don’t reach all of my goals and do them to the best of my ability. I’m an ideas person that likes to dream about the “what-ifs” but I’m also the person that will form a plan to get us there. That’s the main reason we do about 100 things here at Sweet Horizon, soooo maybe I also like testing our limits as well.
We both recognize those qualities in each other and try to allow each other room to handle things in our own way. With each project we get better about knowing when the other person needs help, even before they do, and we know when we need to back off and give the other person some space. It’s really all a give and take, knowing your significant other’s strengths and weaknesses, and helping them with both.
It’s not for every couple
Probably the biggest thing we’ve learned is that working together is not for every couple. Some couples just have different passions than one another and don’t feel the need to overlap their careers in anyway. Some couples would hate spending their evenings working. And some just wouldn’t cope with any difference in work styles. Not being able to work together has absolutely no bearing on your relationship as a whole, but if you are trying to decide whether or not to work together it’s definitely a good thing to think about. It’s not always easy and we know fully well that we are probably an exception in that we somehow make it work.
It honestly still probably comes back to Mike being more patient than me, cause lord only knows what it would be like if we both were super outspoken. Heaven help us.
Do you currently work with your significant other? Have you thought about starting a business together? What are some things you’ve learned along the way?