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Living together and
With a surge in cases of divorce in Kuwait against the backdrop of growing financial hardships, Kuwait Times weighed the pros and cons of working with your spouse. In order to have a better understanding, spouses were asked if they would like to work together - either in the same company or department. In answering the question, distrust, jealousy, unfaithfulness and “not spending quality time together” topped the list of the reasons for their choices.
There is a popular phrase - “keep your work and personal lives separate” - but in today’s complex economic climate and competitive job market, it is common to see work and personal lives interwoven. While some people prefer to work with their spouses, others vehemently oppose the idea. No matter which camp one falls into, mixing business and pleasure comes with many positives - and some negatives as well.
“There is a need to separate work-related issues from family issues. If we work in the same department, we will be choked up with office-related issues, thus ignoring why we are together - by marriage. We won’t have a lot of personal things to talk about on a daily basis apart from work-related issues. This will eventually affect our marriage,” said Munaf Chafekar, 29, IT staff at Oracle Applications. “More so, constantly seeing each other at work might lead to marital problems as well as conflicts of interest if it comes to making certain decisions,” he added.
Buttressing Chafekar’s views, Evelyn Sam, a merchandize buyer at M H Alshaya, said: “I like to have my space at work. Having my better half around my work environment could be very intimidating and distracting. Being with the same person at work and home makes life very boring. I need breathing space!”
For Kyrie Alvares, Operation Coordinator at Logistica, it is a capital ‘NO’. “We spend a lot of time together at home - especially on weekends. Having him around in the office as well will make me feel smothered. Even though we work in the same locality, we prefer not to share our eight-hour working time together,” she said.
Other respondents explored the merits of spouses working together in the same company and environment.
For Emmanuel Steve, a teacher, couples who share experiences often feel a greater sense of connection to one another. “I find it interesting working with my wife in school. I won’t be bothered much about her safety, flat tires, traffic mishaps and her wellbeing at work. Working together brings us together and boosts our intimacy, as we share ideas,” he argued.
Supporting Emmanuel’s view, Ahmed Saad, a marketing executive, explored the economic advantage. “With the global financial crisis biting hard, cutting costs becomes imperative. Before we had two cars, but after my wife was transferred to my Shuwaikh branch, things became easier. We sold my wife’s car and made some other adjustments for the better. For a country like Kuwait, a car off the road means a lot for the traffic situation. It is very convenient for us too,” he said.
Donovan Ferrao, 26, a biomedical engineer at Central Circle, also considers the economic advantages and how safe it is to work together. “I would like to work with my better half in the same company - but not in the same department. Getting to and from work will be economical and convenient. I wouldn’t have to worry if she has reached safely. We would share a common group and we would know best about each other’s workplace and timings, and this would go a long way in today’s fragile relationships,” he reasoned.
In the summers of Kuwait, where the temperature hits 50 degrees, many-a-times women are stuck in the scorching heat to deal with situations such as flat tires and overheated radiators and batteries. To avoid dealing with such situations alone, Ferrao insists that commuting together to the same workplace is very favorable.
When Raphael is done with his workday, he crosses over to the other side to pick up his wife who works in the neighboring office. The couple enjoys discussing their work challenges during their commute home, and often will brainstorm solutions to assignments. “We contribute to each other’s careers. We have been married for 15 years now, and we’ve been working together since we came to Kuwait. I can’t imagine not working with her,” said Raphael, who teaches in the same school with his wife Lilit. “We always know what one another are going through professionally. More so, there is maximum trust because we spend almost 24 hours together,” he added.
“Working or commuting together can forge a deeper respect for couples’ professional skills, and sharing a workplace can be enjoyable. Couples who work together say the pros outweigh the cons. Sharing a professional life with your spouse can even strengthen your relationship as you come to know your partner better - with love and mutual respect,” said Innocent Ona, a sociologist.