Being Both Co-Workers and Spouses

Michael and Nicole McFadden balance their careers and family life while working together

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Kay Copeland

Nicole, Max and Michael McFadden are all a part of the Liberty family.

By Kay Copeland, Liberty High School

Couples in the workplace are becoming more common in today’s society. According to an article published by Business Insider, 29% of couples in the workplace describe being in a “serious, long-term relationship.” This statistic poses the question- “Is working with your spouse beneficial to the couple’s overall work performance and relationship?”

Liberty has an abundance of staff couples. Among the couples at our school include Jonathan and Jackie Hall, Donald and Denys Jolliff, Michael and Nicole McFadden and Ryan and Amanda McMillen. That means that a total of eight staff members at Liberty are married to each other. 

Mr. McFadden teaches statistics and calculus, while also coaching JV boys basketball. Mrs. McFadden teaches primarily in Liberty’s FACS fashion department. She is also the cheerleading coach at Frontier Middle School.

Mr. and Mrs. McFadden have worked together in the same workplace for seven years. The pair met while she was still working as a student-teacher. The McFaddens are a part of the 16% of people who met their spouse through work. 

“[We’ve worked together for] three years at Liberty and four years at Valley Park, so seven years total. I’ve been teaching for nine years,” Mrs. McFadden reminisced. “We’ve worked together for almost my whole career.”

One of the preconceptions about couples in the workplace is that the pair will always be together throughout the workday. This can lead to spending too much time with your spouse and getting tired of one another. However, when it comes to the McFaddens, this is not the case.

It’s great to know that Max is in the same building as us. We know and trust the kids that teach him at Eagles Nest. First, our daughter came here, and now our son. This is where they’ll go to high school. It’s so great that our whole family can be a part of Liberty.”

— Mr. McFadden

“During the day [at school] I can’t just leave and go hang out in her classroom. So we work together, but there’s also a degree of separation, which is good,” Mr. McFadden explained. “We get to talk and see each other at lunch, but there’s not an overabundance of being in each other’s face.”

There are both pros and cons when it comes to spouses in the same workplace. The McFaddens described some of the positives. 

“I like that we have the same co-workers,” he said. “Our conversations always make sense because we both know what we’re talking about.”

“Having summers off together is what I really like,” Mrs. McFadden added. “Being on the same schedule is really nice too.”

But there are also negatives, especially when it comes to being on the same schedule.

“If one of our kids gets sick when we both have to be [at school], someone has to get a substitute. Or when our daughter’s school schedule doesn’t match with ours, that’s hard,” he explained. “Being on the same schedule is great, but there are times when it’s conflicting too.”

“We don’t ever get to take off together,” she added. “Like with our daughter’s school parties, we can’t both take off and go, because then there are two teachers missing from the building. We take turns on who takes off work for things like that.”

In addition to all these positives and negatives is an interesting tidbit about the McFaddens. Not one, but two of their children have attended The Eagles Nest, Liberty’s preschool that the child development classes help teach.

The McFaddens’ daughter, Elliott, attended Eagles Nest for two years. In fact, there is a picture of Elliott in the main entrance of Liberty in the display case. She no longer attends The Eagles Nest, but her brother Max is a part of Eagles Nest on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“It’s great to know that Max is in the same building as us,” Mr. McFadden admired. “We know and trust the kids that teach him at Eagles Nest. First, our daughter came here, and now our son. This is where they’ll go to high school. It’s so great that our whole family can be a part of Liberty.”

This story was originally published on Liberty Ledger on November 13, 2019.