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‘So how are you going to cope working with your husband all day every day?’ asked curious friends

Updated: Dec 22, 2018

This will be my last blog for 2018 and as usual at this time of year I am feeling reflective.

2018 has been a huge year for us as a business and also as business partners and life partners. Ian finished his nine to five employment in May to come and join me in running Saul Hay Gallery full time. ‘So how are you going to cope working with Ian all day every day?’ asked several curious friends and family members.

For me it has been a mostly positive change. We have made a few adjustments to the way we work and will continue to do so as challenges arise.

Here are my thoughts on some of the positives and some of the challenges of working with co-founder and husband of 27 years Ian Hay.


We can say what we mean. Being able to speak frankly without fear of being misunderstood or upsetting your colleague is very liberating in a working environment. I have worked in a team where this was the case once before and always described it as like being in a family. It certainly saves a lot of time when you can be completely open.

We can be really flexible. Both of us have the same family commitments and it’s much easier to work around those when your business partner understands on a very personal level

We can celebrate successes together; Ian’s successes are my successes too.

We’re having a mid-life adventure together. It was scary to give up my secure full-time job and terrifying when Ian joined me so that we could commit fully to our project. Facing that fear together feels life affirming - a bit like going on a voyage or climbing a mountain.

Catherine Hay. Saul Hay Gallery


I found out that I am really annoying when I interrupt Ian’s concentration by asking questions out of the blue or shouting at my computer or talking to myself out loud. Sorry to all the people I have worked with previously, why didn’t you tell me?

It’s hard to switch off. I don’t really know whether this is even a negative point at this stage of our development. The lines between our business and our home life have blurred into insignificance and we are both enjoying this immensely. Working with creative people is such a pleasure and often work is the most fun place to be.

It is important to step back and recharge sometimes and we find that we have some of our best ideas when we are away from work. We have recently been on some long walks around the Lancashire countryside on our days off. As well as getting fresh air and exercise it's a struggle to get a mobile connection up in the windy hills so there is no choice than to forget about our emails

It can be isolating. We work with fewer individuals on a day to day basis than ever before and I personally miss the noisy office environment and relationships with close work colleagues. However, there are so many new connections with people through our work, we make sure to keep in touch with old friends and have worked hard to build new relationships close to work by joining groups such as the Castlefield Forum and The Friends of the Whitworth.

My top tips for working with your life partner

Keep your sense of humour – that’s my top tip for everything!

Spend some time on your own - working and living together we sometimes find that we don’t have any news for each other. I think it’s important to keep some time to ourselves as individuals and I’m certainly glad that I don’t get invited to some of the gigs which Ian and his geeky music friends enjoy.

What are your experiences of working with your life partner or would you relish the chance to give it a go?

Catherine& I Hay an Hay. Saul Hay Gallery

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