The standard entrepreneur and spouse dynamic can be very touchy. As entrepreneurs, we have a high-risk tolerance. Non-entrepreneur spouses typically have a much lower tolerance. Entrepreneurs are optimistic and often obsessed with their business. Spouses of entrepreneurs are often more wary of the business’ upside and don’t feel connected to it. Adding fuel to the fire, entrepreneurs spend a lot of time with their “other” child, their baby, their business, which can breed resentment. Add the dynamic of entrepreneur as wife AND spouse as husband and we’re all on new ground. Now, throw in the different styles of handling money and that ground just gave way to a sinkhole. Just for added measure, men are typically more practical and women are often relational. In fact, your husband’s practicalism can come across to you as resistance or lack of support. Put entrepreneurialism, male/female dynamics and different money styles in the same relationship and you have the potential of creating significant discourse in a marriage. The good news? That just means it’s time for meaningful discussions. It can take time, work and dedication to help our spouses understand our business, our dreams, our motivations with the hope they can become our allies. There is a lot of loneliness and heartache in the process, on both sides. Not just for us women, but for the men who love us and stay with us. But, I can help shorten your learning curve. And one of the shortest ways is to show me the money, honey!
Ideally, your business is a profit driven business vs. a drain-the-family-finances beast. The surest way to drive a wedge between you and your husband is if you’re not contributing to the family coffers, regardless of the reasons why. Are you also sacrificing family time, private time with your husband, household needs, your health, to work on your business? If so, this will surely add to his level of frustration and resentment.
For everything, there is a season. When you start a business it will take up a lot of your time. When a major project comes along and you need to give it your all (think of the launch of a new product line, a book, being on Shark Tank). Hopefully, you secured the stakeholders (your family’s buy-in) to pursue these efforts. Perhaps you had a serious health issue, family matter, or life-altering event that forced you to put the business on the back burner, but now you’re going at it with all 8 cylinders. Putting those situations aside, have you been working at your business for 2-3 years and you’re still using the business as an excuse to avoid your responsibilities at home, for not contributing to the family account? Check out this post, “Is Your Business Your Lover?”, for some additional insight. Additionally, perhaps you’re treating your business as a hobby. If you’re not sure, here’s a helpful post for you, “Is Your Business a Hobby or a Real Endeavor?“
How do you determine if he is just being practical or if he is resentful and unsupportive of you building your blockbuster business? It is best not to dismiss gripes, but to respond in a compassionate manner. Ask him what he is worried or fearful of. Listen carefully to his response. Perhaps he’s worried about the future of your retirement accounts or is feeling ignored or sidelined. He may even be worried about your health. You can make bargains like Nina did. A stay-at-home mom with a rockin’ transcript business. When she started the business, Mike was very leery, so Nina made small bargains with him. Such as, if she made $X in XYZ time-frame, they can purchase/do ABC. Then she upped it a little with each new bargain. Over time, the “bargains” gave him concrete examples of her dedication and the potential for the business. Barbara, a lawyer who struggled to get her private practice going in the early years, consistently hit income goals. In other words, she hustled and her husband worried less. Nina and Barbara didn’t come from an adversarial perspective but rather worked with their husbands to have their goals met. You’ll also need to address the issue and come to a thoughtful, realistic agreement that you and your husband can both live with.
Have you tried those tactics and your husband is still critical and unsupportive, but you know you’re building a blockbuster business? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Humans are created and wired to connect. And those connections need to be supportive, helpful and encouraging. By the way, I’m not talking about rubber-stamper-yes-people. They can be just as detrimental as nay-sayers. But, that’s another post. We need people in our corner building us up, not tearing us down. The world and our own inner critic do enough tearing down. The community at Till Business Do Us Part will support you (Hug) and give you the practical advice when necessary (Shove).
I always welcome family-friendly comments.
Hug and a Shove,