Many chiropractors are married to chiropractors and have chosen to work together. My husband, Brian and I have worked together for many years during which our practice flourished. This has required the two of us to constantly work on our relationship. I will share with you the insight from which we grew and what really worked to make a difference in our lives, and you can do so in yours.
Does the following sound familiar?
The wife doesn’t like how her husband has spoken to her at the dinner table last night and they have an argument. They go to sleep mad and wake up not speaking to each other. Now its time to head for the practice. They have their “act as if” smiles on for the patients and the nonverbal animosity continues.
Hidden from their patients or their staff members? Not a chance! They can sense tenseness in the air. The practice is struggling to hold its patient volume and when the CA goes home for the evening, to your surprise, you find the help-wanted section of the newspaper tucked into her trash can.
Another scenario can occur when one DC/spouse has one point of view of how the practice should be run and the other DC/spouse has a different point of view. Frequently when this happens one person is made right and the other person is made wrong, or they are both made wrong by each other.
Are you compatible to work together?
- Does your chiropractic philosophy match your spouse’s?
- Are you best friends inside and outside the office?
- Do you criticize your spouse often?
- Do you speak with mutual respect to each other, especially in front of other staff members?
- Are you coachable by your spouse?
- Do you trust your spouse implicitly regarding money?
- If a patient flirts or makes advances to your spouse, do you have peace of mind and totally trust your spouse to handle it with integrity?
- Do you consistently find the good in your spouse’s work?
- Do you have a need to control your spouse regarding the practice?
- Do have a need to be in control of the practice?
The questions above are intended to serve as a thought-provoking springboard for discussion for couples in practice or considering practicing together.
The best thing to do here is respect your spouse’s point of view. You do not have to agree with it. You can honor it, respect it, and see the contribution your spouse wants to make and vice versa. For example, let’s say you like “cluster booking” your patients because that is how you always practiced. However, your spouse likes booking his patients throughout the day. Rather than making one “right” and the other “wrong,” look at what you are both committed to. You are both aligned to educating your community and your patients and having your office be the center of chiropractic in your town. When you focus on the big commitment you share, the little things shrink and evaporate. You will never get to what you both are committed to unless you first respect your spouse’s point of view. Listen thoroughly and without defense. Make sure you completely understand each other. Remember, you both desire the same purpose… to have the patient experience extraordinary service and help to grow your practice.
Another example is when the husband and wife decide who will be responsible for the various jobs in the practice. Let’s say the husband is responsible for all narratives but he does a poor job of taking SOAP notes. The attorney calls, upset because the narratives are late and the other spouse who is not responsible for the narratives says, “no problem… I promise it to you personally this Monday morning on your desk.” She then confronts her husband about the narratives that are past due to the attorney. She finds out they are missing SOAP notes and the patient did not sign the lien. They go home and continue hashing this out in the kitchen over dinner and later in the bedroom. They lose sleep over this and the other practice-related items that are on their minds.
After these types of upsets happen a few times, it becomes increasingly easy for the spouse to label her partner with; “S/he will never change.” “S/he is impossible.” “S/he is hopeless.” “S/he is the cause of all our problems.” “S/he will ruin our reputation,” and so on. All of these labels make it increasingly difficult for your spouse to change.
In my practice, I was the practicing DC and my husband was in charge of initiating promotions, creating strategies for patient referrals and keeping my lines of communication open with all of my patients. For example, if I was spending too much time chatting with patients and causing a back-up in the adjusting rooms, he would catch me between rooms and pass me a quick note, “Three in the rooms, four in the front waiting…stop talking about anything except chiropractic!” Or if he felt that I was sharing too much personal information with a patient, he would advise me of what I said and I could change my approach. He was the eyes and ears for my “blind spots.” As my practice quickly grew to be a multiple associate facility, Brian began helping my DC friends grow their practices, too, which is how we began our consulting company.
Six rules for a healthy relationship with your spouse
The following are rules that my husband Brian and I live by and do not break. As we work longer together, we discuss and develop new rules as our family and business needs change. The rules provide a tight structure for our relationship to be both productive and intimate.
The bedroom is a sacred place. There are no business conversations and no work allowed in this room. Permitted violations of this rule will take a toll on your in-to-me-see (intimacy). Brian and I have learned this lesson well. For years, Brian would take his business papers and spread them on our bed or on our bedroom floor. Even with an extra home office and multiple other places being occupied by his work, he used to wind up in the bedroom with his work, too. When we agreed to make our bedroom a “no work zone” our intimacy became deeper and our relationship more powerful.
Giving your word and keeping it is one of the essential ingredients to success. When I am coaching chiropractic couples, I ask if they routinely give and keep their word. Their responses are usually some derivative of, “Oh, yes…well most of the time.” People think they have a right to every-now-and-then break their word, or better yet, forget about it entirely. When this happens, the personal cost to you is loss of trust, the single most critical ingredient to a successful relationship.
Hire a coach. It is always easier to go to someone who is not tied up with your life and has the ability to see the forest from the trees. A personal coach is trained to keep you on track. A relationship with a coach can accomplish far greater, lasting changes than a seminar. It gives you the access to a trusted outside opinion, without any bias or prejudice and with the sole charter of seeing you maximize your potential. With the added complexities of working together in your practice, a coach can provide some invaluable insights. These insights will help to accelerate your relationship, which, in turn, will translate into a more powerful, fulfilling and profitable practice.
When couples work together, make it a rule that business does not get discussed at the dinner table. The dinner table is not the place to keep perpetuating your business discussions. Your dinner table is designed to provide a platform for the fruits of your work, not the work itself. Many chiropractic couples I coach say, “Well the practice is what we have in common, what else are we going to talk about?” My response is to “go get a life with each other.” You can speak of family, spirituality, converse about what you are grateful for today, what you learned about yourself and/or people today, etc. In order for your relationship to become more interesting, you must become more interested in things beyond your practice. This will bring a new dimension to your relationship and will also provide new fuel for your practice.
(This one is my favorite). In the early days of my marriage to Brian, I was still in full-time practice, and he would intently want to let me know about the breakthroughs his staff was causing with doctors. Excited, enthusiastic, and sometimes nearly unstoppable, we finally agreed on “Rule 5.” If you want to discuss business, you can have the pleasure of taking me out on a date, of my choice, to any restaurant, and you arrange for the babysitting. Rule 5 has provided our home as a safe harbor and a safe place for Brian and I to build on our relationship. And I am happy to discuss our business over fabulous dinners!
Get away. There is nothing better than getting away to nurture your creative power and build on your primary relationship at the same time. Brian and I travel four times a year with our doctors from the business. In addition to a weekend get-away every six to eight weeks, we come back from each trip closer to each other, more deeply in love, and with our energy recharged from these fabulous weekends. There is nothing like regularly scheduled “vacations” that allow you to step away from the practice so you can take an objective look and be inspired at the same time. Brian and I have our travel schedule booked at least a year in advance so there is always time for this necessary reprieve. I find that my clients and I all experience more fulfillment in practice when we play as hard as we work. This provides for the necessary replenishment so that we can go on and give all day.
I promise you, if you incorporate these rules and boundaries into your lives you will see a fundamental shift in your relationship. Husbands and wives in practice working together can make an unusually powerful combination for their patients’ benefit. When clear communication, cooperation and a coach are combined, your practice and your life will be on the right track to accelerated success.