The issue seems clear cut – we accept her and thank her for stepping up to the plate. But is this actually the best thing for the organisation? It is very common for committees of small sports clubs or interest groups to have the husband as the president and the wife as secretary or treasurer.
Several problems occur. Because the two live in the same house, it is highly likely that isues will be discussed and action taken for expediency without reference to the rest of the committee. That seems fine until they cross the line with the natirs of decisions they make – usually innocently.
Also, the rest of the members of ten just “let them get on wih it” and do’t take adequate care and dilidgence about the running of the organisation.
For the people themselves, they often allow the club to become their life and when it does move to other people, (sadly usually against their will), then they have a huge gap in their lives that many have difficulty filling.
Finally, it can be argued that a husband and wife will usually have the same view on most issues and so vote the same way. This is not good for the organisation as you need a varied range of views to canvass options and opinion.
So from a governance perspective, there is nothing technically which disallows a husband and wife serving on the same board or committee, but the organisation is better to allow this only as a last resort and only as a temporary measure.
There appears to be only one place in the world that actually disallows this by statute and that is the state of New Hampshire in the USA.
The real problem is perception of inappropriate decision making or collusion. So when a tricky issue arises, if people even think there is collusion between the husband and wife, then you have conflict you don’t need.
Best advice – avoid it is at all possible. (Same goes by the way for any people who are closely related such as brothers, or brothers and sisters)
Interesting historical case
Many years ago a community support group was formed by a family who had suffered a particular circumstance. They provided support and counselling for families who had suffered similarly. The family had a limited education. Their intent was entirely noble but they lacked the understanding of the intricacies of running an organisation. They attracted government money because the need for their group was high and not provided by any government service.
The committee consisted of the husband, wife, and three adult children. They “allowed” others in from time to time but these people did not stay as they could not work with the family members, who of course always supported each others views and opinions about the running of the group. Eventually another person came onto the committee who also needed the support provided by the group, but unfortunately the circumstance in her life was recent and so her work with the group became therapy for her – although she of course did not see it that way.
Eventually, the newcomer, who was educated, took over the group from the family even though they still held committee positions.
After a relatively short time, the government funding ceased as other groups formed which provided the same type of service, but operated much more effectively. The original group still runs, with no outside funding, but attracts great criticism from the professionals and other groups because they run so poorly and do not actually provide a good service any more. They are still fighting for funding 25 years – yes 25 years after their funding was terminated! The same people are still on the committee.