Ten years ago, my husband Dan and I reversed roles when we started a retail business. I ran the store, handling the staff and operations, and he worked from home, managing the books—and our boys, who were ages 4 to 14 at the time. I became immersed in the world of business, and Dan dominated on the home front.
Our role reversal made sense on paper. We owned a scrapbook store, which primarily catered to women. It was natural for me to deal with people and products I enjoyed. I learned how to hire (and sometimes fire) staff. I learned about purchasing, merchandising, marketing, customer service, and all kinds of other professional skills that have served me well in many other arenas. But mostly I learned how much I respect and value my husband.
Here was a man who was equally skilled in the marketplace as at home. He had been at the helm of a previous business we owned and had run that enterprise efficiently and effectively. I never fully appreciated the burden he carried when he was the primary breadwinner until I had to shoulder that responsibility myself.
At home, I watched him call on many of the same principles he had used to run our sandwich shops in the way he managed our family. He trained the boys on how to make their own lunches, do their own laundry (even sorting the whites, lights, and darks), and clean the house.1