Becoming an entrepreneur is difficult. Someone who chooses this path is one who is not happy coasting through life. You have dreams and the traditional "9-5" just won't cut it. You have to make things happen for yourself, instead of waiting for someone else to do it. In embarking upon your adventures in self-employment many will provide advice; some good, some bad. Sure, you can find a wealth of information about how to start and maintain a successful business. One thing that is rarely discussed: the effect all of this has on your marriage.
Many of my client couples are creating successful business only to find their marriage is in shambles. With the long hours, late nights, travel, and all of the things needed to grow it can become all encompassing. Starting and maintaining a successful business is hard; here are some ways you can salvage your relationship in the process.
Get Buy In
As a business owner you understand that you are your brand. You have to create value in your products or services to continually grow. Your business will never grow if you are not invested in it. The same is true of your spouse. It will be very difficult to grow your business if your spouse is against it. Try to get your spouse bought in to the process. Can you involve them in your triumphs and failures? Can you leave room for them to support you emotionally? Even if you are in business by yourself, you are not alone. The two of you are a team and will continue to be. Allowing your partner into your world may give them a sense of ownership and motivation to support you. Let them.
Realize Its Your Passion
Many who are self-employed felt compelled to do so and the status-quo was not an option. Realizing that your spouse may not have the same resolve is key. Although you are a team and having them bought-in is wonderful; they may not share your enthusiasm. Check your expectations. You can delight in their excitement and participation but they may never understand your drive. Respect who they are and where they are in their own professional journey and adjust your expectations accordingly. This is an opportunity for you to grow together as you both work toward your goals and an opportunity to dive into your passion. At the same time, share their passions with them too. Support should always be reciprocal.
Share Your Effort
Building a business can be an all-encompassing effort. Wearing so many hats everyday is exhausting. Particularly if you are performing this Herculean tasks alone, each day can be more exhausting than the one before. In all of this you still need to pour into your relationship. What you feed will thrive, but unfortunately, what you starve will die. If you wait until "tomorrow" to work on your marriage there is a good chance there may not be a marriage to work on. Make sure you set aside time to feed your marriage. It would be a shame to build this awesome future and spend it alone.
When I took the awesome leap out on my own and started Reconnecting Columbus I had no idea how hard it would be to juggle home and a growing practice/business. Over time I noticed that most entrepreneurs were struggling with the same balance. Many clients were coming to me for the same issues I used to struggle with. Being aware of the threat of growing apart is necessary for your relationship's survival. Take time and work on your relationship with the same vigor that you have for your business so that both can thrive. You deserve an incredible future personally AND professionally.
Feel like you are in a tug-of-war for your lover's heart?
One of the biggest challenges couples face is the over-involvement of family members in the committed relationship. The trouble comes when arelationship with family members is unhealthy and creates discord between lovers.Many couples come into therapy wanting to work on the relationship between them but neglect to invite one key participant, this third person. For readability I will use the term "parent" although this post can apply to parents, children, friends, or anyone. In some relationships parentshave become much like an emotional affair partner (I know scary right?). They receive more than their share of time, energy, and sometimes even finances. This becomes a problem in relationships when the other partner feels left out. If parentand partner are at odds, many committed relationships will struggle to survive. As you struggle with the relationship between your partner and their parenthere are some key points to consider. This Is Not ACompetition…If You Do Not Compete
Contrary to what it may feel like, you are not in direct competition with your partner's parent. Competition suggests willful opposition; yet you didn't sign up for this match. As well-meaning as they are some parents feel threatened by their child's love interest. This is their issue, not yours. Take the moral high-ground and avoid competing. If your partner values the relationship they will be open to hearing your concerns and making appropriate adjustments. This is easier when you are not creating more strife by being at odds with their parent. If you engage with the parent in competition you will lose footing and potentially your partner's ear. Rise above it. Parents AreTeachers
Many over-involved parents have difficulty with their own romantic relationships, leaving them time and energy to put into yours. What you may feel is inappropriate or destructive may be normal for that parent and perhaps even your partner. Take a step back and assess the situation. Does this family have a history of healthy loving relationships? If the answer is no, be prepared to begin the hard work of defining the boundaries of your relationship. People can change if they are willing and internally motivated to do so, they will not change simply because you want them to. Working with your partner to create a healthy relationship will bond the two of you together and perhaps salvage the relationship with their parent. The Ultimatum- Them or Me
Many partners feel they are left with no choice but to issue the ultimatum; your parent or me. This is a risky move. Your partner could be so intertwined with their parent that they are willing to lose you. This could be a very painful realization for you.You could find that you are the choice, but now resentment takes up the space the parent once occupied. The probability that you experience the outcome you are looking for is slim. This option requires a cost/benefit analysis are you willing to gamble the relationship to win this fight? At any rate, there is no easy answer to this problem. Talk to your partner calmly, out of love and respect for them and the relationships. Ask for what you need and want without letting anger rule the conversation. Believe that your partner has your best interests at heart and hear them out too. If all else fails enlist a trusted friend, advisor,or qualified relationship counselorthat can be objective and is not afraid to call you out on your blind spots. A great relationship is possible, if you are willing to put in the work.