Relationship Q&A: Mixing Family and Business

Expert answers to your relationship questions.
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Q. My husband and I have been running our own company for two years. Now he wants us to hire his brother, who is lazy and unmotivated. His brother and I have never gotten along very well. How can I make my husband see what a mistake it would be to bring him into the business?

Bonnie Eaker Weil, Ph.D., a family therapist based in New York City and author of Make Up, Don't Break Up (Adams Media), answers:

A. In family therapy, we say that if one person thinks there is a problem, then there is one. Therefore, your husband needs to honor your perceptions and wishes. Most likely, things will only become more tense between you and your brother-in-law if you become co-workers, which could, in turn, have an adverse effect on your marriage.

Don't tell your husband how you personally feel about his brother; that will only make him defensive. Instead, simply say that family businesses are complex and fragile to begin with, and that bringing a relative into the mix would be risky. You could add, "You and Mike are such close brothers, and I'd hate to see any bad blood between you two if things didn't work out."


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