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iStockphoto.com|Fuat Kose

While everyone tries to balance family and work life, married business partners are working on two sometimes diametrically opposed relationships simultaneously.

Paul and Nina Winans, married 33 years, began their annual couples retreat workshop (Feb. 26–27, 2010, in Tempe, Ariz.) to help others encountering the same challenges, says Nina, who had a bookkeeping background when she began to work with Paul 31 years ago. Before they sold their successful $2.4 million company in 2007, she was vice president. Now Paul is a facilitator and consultant for Remodelers Advantage, and both are principals in Winans Consulting.

The Winans learned about their own relationship from mentors. “It’s been an ongoing process,” Paul says. “But we were able to take input from people who know more than we do ... which helped us see things differently.”

The two-day retreat takes couples through a personality assessment and workshops about conflict, boundaries, listening, work-life balance, goal-setting, and budgeting. “We’re not therapists,” Nina says. “It’s practical advice for how to make your business and relationship successful.”

Joanne and Jeff Hall, owners of Villa Builders, in Arnold, Md., were “having difficulties being able to separate work from married life,” Joanne says.

The couple attended last year’s retreat and incorporated the strategies they learned. If there is a work issue needing attention when they get home, Joanne says, “We set aside a specific time so it doesn’t overrun the personal part of our lives.” In the office, they might set aside a weekly lunch to discuss personal matters.

The best part of the retreat? “Being around others having the same issues,” Joanne says. “The camaraderie was fabulous.”

Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.