I say significant other because you could work with your spouse or the person in which you are in a relationship. Or, I guess, even another family member. And, I say working because both of you do not have to be lawyers to work together in a law firm. One can assist the other.
I am not sure I really have particular advice for you, but it has worked well for me.
My wife and I applied to law school together. We took every law school class together. We took the bar exam together. We have practiced law in one form or the other together for 25 years. And, we have raised four children together.
We both work out of our home, and we share the same office space within our home.
So, let's just say that we are together most of the time.
At this stage in our lives we can operate on a type of shorthand. We know how the work flow breaks down for childcare, housekeeping and in the workplace, not out of some grand design but out of random selection of duties that have established themselves over the years.
I know those things that irritate me about her work habits, and I am sure she can say the same thing about me. What I can say is that we have both mellowed over the many years as we have come to realize that these irritants are not really that important in the overall scope of things. Also, if you worked with a non-family member, I am sure you would find more irritating habits in that person you will be less likely to tolerate.
Although there are some statistics that suggest that only 5% of couples can make an all-in-one partnership work, I cannot say that I have had this problem.
Do not get me wrong. It takes some learning, a little faith, and the realization that petty matters are not worth the fight. And, it takes this realization on the part of both parties.
Law school was the worse for us in this regard. I recall classmates romanticizing about how wonderful it must be for us to study together. After all, studying for class and exams in law school is a lonely business. But, my wife and I had drastically different study habits. Namely, she studied and I did not.
I tend to think any torment from working together eases with time. Much like rocks that rub together, at first they are rough and jagged. Over time they both smooth out and become more polished. There is less friction.
If you are thinking of working with your significant other, I might be able to provide you a few suggestions that might help.
First, do not get stuck in gender roles. You need to be equals in the workplace and to respect each other.
Second, come to terms with your competitiveness. It is wrong to ignore the fact that we are all competitive in some way and to some extent. In the home environment in which the only goal is to tend the house and take care of the kids, you might not exhibit your competitiveness to each other and save it for the workplace. The problem is what happens when both of you are in the workplace?
Third, I would like to tell you to establish a separation between work and home. That is what the experts would tell you. But, I have come to learn that this advice is simply hogwash. If you live and work together, that is just simply impossible. When you are both sitting at your child's soccer game or track meet do not tell me that work will not come into the conversation. This does not mean that both of you do not need to get away from work and concentrate on something else from time to time. But, when my wife and I were both in Tampa recently with our daughter, from time to time we were on the phone resolving work matters and settling cases. I really tend to believe that drawing lines of demarcation in this way leads to more stress and not less.
Let others talk about the odds of survival. I am here to tell you that working and living together can be a wonderful thing.