The Business of Love
With some forethought, couples can find success in both business and in marriage
After 23 years, the spontaneous yet predictable smile that invades my husband’s face every evening when I walk through the door, the comfort I feel when he pulls me into him by the small of my back, and the tickle I feel from the wisdom of his mustache when he finally leans in for the most tender of kisses is what I look forward to after a long day’s work. I believe that a person’s family is intended to be an oasis of love and should be cherished as such. But, on occasion, that paradise may seem like a mirage in the most abandoned of deserts.
These feelings are common in any intimate relationship, but are more prevalent with entrepreneurial couples. In many instances, these sorts of feelings lead to financial strain, neglect, lack of communication, divergent goals and, ultimately, divorce. Why is this so?
Convene with entrepreneurs, and it soon becomes evident that many of the people who succeed the most at creating great businesses equally struggle with sustaining a healthy marriage. Neither building a business nor nurturing a happy marriage is easy, and trying to do both at once can seem an impossible feat.
Entrepreneurial couples demand coping skills that traditional relationships can hardly perceive. A marriage in which the business is the substantial priority must be stronger than most. It needs better communication skills, better conflict resolution skills, better specific planning skills and an enormous amount of resilience. But ironically, the shared struggle of running a business can make a well-established marriage even better.
Business owners may have some distinct advantages when it comes to making a marriage purr. Entrepreneurs are perceived as loners, but they also have a strong drive to succeed and are skilled at working toward a goal. Any business owner who makes a harmonious home life a definite objective is quite likely to achieve it.
Not many people have the opportunity to work with their significant other, and, because I devote so much time to my businesses, I feel lucky that I’m able to do so with the person I love and trust the most. I have been a partner with my husband in one of my businesses for our entire married life. What has allowed for a successful life in all aspects are ground rules of engagement.
Division of responsibilities in the workplace — and responsibilities at home and with family — can be very convoluted and create unnecessary tension, as both people learn about each other’s strengths and weaknesses. If both individuals want to be the final decision-maker, disaster is inevitable!
My husband and I have a simple rule: If we do not agree on an issue, we don’t move forward until we can find a mutually acceptable solution. The second issue is that employees need a specific dominant figure. In other words, the true decisions are made behind the scenes and behind closed doors. We only have one person set the tone for the employees, so they never face the dilemma of who to ask for an important decision. Most importantly, both people must understand that even when a disagreement occurs, it does not affect the personal relationship of the couple. Personalizing workplace matters and being unable to separate work from home is what causes immediate strife and controversy.
Many spouses can’t compete with the intense passion that entrepreneurs have for their businesses. Business ownership can intensify traits seldom associated with nurturing relationships: bossiness, self-importance and impatience. Disagreements within married business owners’ relationships seem to be centered mostly around a good work/life balance, which is startling considering that most couples are presumed to argue over finances.
Men are usually focused on work the majority of the time, and, when they have a spare moment, they expect spontaneous sex — becoming disillusioned and upset when their wives don’t respond favorably. Women, on the other hand, generally need time to get back in touch and in tune emotionally before they can feel an authentic desire for intimacy. This common conundrum can be solved by scheduling designated times to simply enjoy a roaring fire in the fireplace or indulge in a romantic dinner and a movie. It’s very important for the couple to start “dating” again before too much resentment and hostility builds.
As a family, my husband and I understand the magnificent role that our individual and joined ventures play in our personal and professional lives as successful entrepreneurs. We love our business dealings, but love each other infinitely more. On occasion, our passion to succeed overpowers the relationship, but we consciously make the effort to leave work at the office and express love at home. Balance is the key to a life lived happily ever after.
The Rules of Engagement for Love and Marriage
Loyalty Loyalty between married business partners can only occur when the welfare of their customers and partners is put ahead of their own self-serving interests. Make decisions that benefit the unit as a whole.
Order Have specific individual roles and duties in the business relationship. A structured system is vital to a couple’s success in business. Established roles and assignments allow the couple to excel in their individual strengths by respecting professional boundaries.
Vail Disagreements in business dealing are inevitable. But it is important to always appear as a united front among all employees. The slightest sign of friction between the owners will lead to dissent in the workplace. When disagreements arise, don’t move forward until a mutually acceptable agreement is in place.
Engage In the bigger scheme of things, love is the only thing that connects us all. In our pursuit of success and material gain, it is important to remember to cherish the bond between one another. After all, what is success without someone to share it with?