“It’s not easy being married to an entrepreneur.” If you’re an entrepreneur or if you’re married to one, that may sound like the understatement of the year.
From far away, entrepreneurs may appear to “have it all,” but most don’t realize that having it all comes at a steep price: Your sleep, your schedule, your relationships, and your health can all suffer.
Our clients are entrepreneurs and business owners, and we make it our business to support them. We see it time and time again: Person gets married. Person starts business. Marriage unravels. What gives? Are there any special tricks or tips that can help you stay happily married to an entrepreneur?
Of course there are. We’ve compiled advice and tips from experts in the entrepreneurial realm and the relationship realm to give you the best of both worlds.
Whether you’re married to an entrepreneur and want to offer better spousal support or you’re an entrepreneur who can feel the intimacy in your marriage starting to slip, listen up. These 7 tips can be what make or break your marriage.
7 Ways to Stay Happily Married to an Entrepreneur
1) Find a way to agree on finances
Money troubles are a powerful predictor of divorce. “The number one reason for divorce is not infidelity or falling out of love,” Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary states. “It’s money. It’s one partner outspending the other. It’s going into debt. It’s not respecting the joint finances. If you avoid doing all of that, you’re in it for the long haul. If not, forget it.”
2) Respect their effort
Is it annoying that your spouse is constantly checking email, taking calls, handing out business cards, and worrying about the company they’re building? Yes. Is it a necessary part of building something great? Yes. As a spouse, the best thing you can do is concentrate on respecting the effort your partner is putting into building something that matters. Change your mindset to admire their dedication instead of being annoyed by it.
Don’t just feel it–talk about it. Tell your partner you admire his or her tenacity and perseverance. Speak your appreciation, even when you feel frustrated. This will help you and your partner connect.
3) Be the biggest supporter
Everyone could use a cheerleader for the tough times. Entrepreneurs face a lot of tough, trying times, and they need a supportive spouse to cheer them on in the dark days. Knowing your spouse has your back and supports you fully offers a great sense of comfort and fosters deeper connection.
Be your spouse’s biggest supporter, not their biggest critic. The world is full of critics, cynics, and nay-sayers. It’s your job to provide a safe shelter from that. Make your marriage a safe haven for your partner.
4) Forgive, forgive, forgive
So your spouse invested money in an idea that flopped? Forgive it. Forgot your daughter’s soccer game (again)? Forgive it. Was late on your last car payment? Forgive it.
The entrepreneur’s life is a busy and fast-paced one. Holding grudges over small issues and mistakes breeds contempt and resentment in a marriage, fast.
To give your union the best chance at survival, make a conscious decision to forgive your partner’s transgressions (we all make mistakes!).
Bonus: Don’t bring up past failures during heated arguments. It damages self esteem and creates a wedge between the two of you.
5) Truly listen
Active listening is recommended for every type of relationship you can think of: Caller-Customer Service Agent, Friend-Friend, Spouse-Spouse, Teacher-Student, Pastor-Member. Active listening involves taking the focus away from what you’ll say in response and instead, puts it on what the speaker says and what they really mean.
As your spouse speaks to you, focus on what’s being said and then paraphrase and reiterate it to them (in different words). This shows them that you’re truly listening to try to understand them, not just rapid-firing your opinions and thoughts at them.
6) Handle conflict gently
Conflict is a fact of life, and for married couples, it can be an everyday occurrence. That’s okay, as long as the conflict is handled in a healthy, nondestructive manner. When disagreements arise, remember to be gentle with your partner.
The stresses of an entrepreneurial lifestyle are weighty, and sometimes, anger that appears to be caused by something small is indicative of ongoing stress related to something else. Be wise in your responses, take time to craft what you’ll say, and don’t explode in anger.
Remember this phrase when you face conflict with your partner: “I will be gentle because life is complicated.”
7) Be patient
Shouldn’t the company be worth millions by now? Where is the Lamborghini you were promised? And isn’t someone going to wash this sink full of dishes? Be patient with your partner. It’s easy to get frustrated, annoyed, and nasty. It’s harder to be patient, kind, and gentle.
You have to ask yourself, “Am I up to the challenge of being a better spouse to my partner? Can I be kind, patient, and gentle when I feel angry or disappointed?”
Marriage is hard. Being married to an entrepreneur is harder. Arm yourself with this advice to give your marriage the best chance you can. Divorce isn’t failure, but you should never give up on something you care deeply about just because it’s difficult to do. The entrepreneur in you finds it hard to admit defeat, and that means you’ll give 110% to your marriage to make it work.
Remember: Be kinder, more supportive, and more forgiving when you feel like doing the opposite. It’s the secret to a happy marriage!