Valley Voices

Working with a spouse is not always easy. Team work can make the dream work

FABMom Jill Simonian and her husband, Dr. Andre Panossian.
FABMom Jill Simonian and her husband, Dr. Andre Panossian. Courtesy of Jill Simonian
When my most recent TV job ended last year (in Los Angeles), I floundered a bit. I imagine it happens to a lot of us who have flexibility to work part-time — who find ourselves in a constant in-between of being a stay-at-home-mom yet also crave deep satisfaction through what we do (or did) for work. At this point in my life and career, I’ve come to accept the ups and downs of what working in media means nowadays — it’s often feast or famine.

I never been one to enjoy famine.

So, when my husband found himself needing extra hands with changes in his plastic surgery practice, I stepped in. “This will be great!” I was suspiciously eager to tap into my other skills outside of being on-camera. I jumped to become his go-to assistant — a media rep, marketing assistant, office decorator and seminar co-planner — working from our home, splitting my time between freelance media jobs. The past four months have consisted of organizing his conference in New York City, shopping for his new office furniture, managing his social media, creating materials to notify local doctors of his new office location, writing and sending press releases about his upcoming not-for-profit surgical mission to Armenia (while also seeking donations for it) ... I didn’t realize how much I volunteered for.

I also didn’t realize that working with a spouse can sometimes be... difficult. My husband is smart and successful, but we function very differently. He’s conscientious and steady, I’m wham-bam-hurry-up-and-finish-it-already. He’s deliberate, I’m let’s-move-faster-so-we-can-check-this-off. There were times when we’d have heated rants in our kitchen, in front of our kids, about whether or not it’d be a couch or chairs in his new waiting room. At one point, I told him that us working together was “not positive for our home life.”

And then, after months of bickering, all the things that were stressing us got organized, settled and successfully completed. And we both felt great.

This last week, I stepped back and took a deep breath. We are different people. We work in opposite ways. We are married first, part-time colleagues second. Discussions about business cannot happen at the dinner table right after our daughters tell us what happened during recess. And, as much as it makes me squirm to say this: He is the boss when his office is concerned. I can make suggestions, but he decides the outcome (because if he were to start instructing me about how to format my website or write one of my columns, I’d flip out).

For all spouses who work together: I see you, am taking notes and am giving you a standing ovation. It isn’t easy, but team work can make the dream work. (As long as both parties remember to thank the other one for all they do.)

Jill Simonian was born and raised in Fresno and is creator of She is a Los Angeles based TV/media contributor and author of book The FAB Mom’s Guide’ for first-time pregnancy. Connect with Jill on Facebook and Instagram @jillsimonian.