Does your business affect your marriage for better…….or worse? Have you ever thought about if you cherish your business more than your spouse? No really. Where do you spend all of your time? What do you think about day and night? How would your spouse weigh in on this?
I know that is provocative. I felt provoked too at a recent marriage and family conference for counselors. After three full days of marriage messages, I realized that we, small business owners, need to consider how our business can impact our marriage.
We all know that running our own business can be stressful and requires most of our skills, and some skills we don’t have. It can be all consuming. It can break our heart or make it soar.
One specific workshop I attended provided 9 strategies to help us stay married for life!
Winning At Home
Dan Seaborn, MA and Peter Newhouse, PhD presented Stay Married for Life: Nine Strategies for Strengthening Intimacy and Helping Couples Thrive. Dan and Peter run an organization called Winning at Home.
In reviewing all nine strategies I found them all applicable to us as business owners. I wanted to take a few and look at them through the lens of how our business affects our marriage.
They started out the workshop provoking…..I mean… asking this room full of counselors to rate their own marriage on each of these factors. (Hey wait. I thought we were learning about everyone else’s marriage!) Anyway, here is my take on four of the nine strategies that I feel are most impacted by owning a business:
1. Establishing cherishing attitudes.
We are supposed to cherish our spouse. And yes, we all want to be cherished by our spouse.
At the same time, we are all really good at cherishing our stuff. As a small business owner, we started our business because we had a vision and/or a passion. Sometimes we get caught up in that passion and forget to focus as much on our passion for our spouse.
Here is the test:
What in your life would your spouse say you cherish?
How would you rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 on cherishing your spouse?
2. Pursuing financial security.
Dan and Peter stressed that having a lot of wealth was not the key factor. How much money someone has doesn’t determine if their spouse feels secure or not. Statistics continue to show that financial conflict is one of the key factors in divorce, even for rich people.
The strategy they are suggesting is that we focus on what financial security looks like to our spouse. They need to know that we are concerned for and working on financial security.
Owning our own business puts significant financial burden on the business owner. Not only are you responsible for your own financial security, but many times you are also responsible for the financial security of your employees and their families.
Cash flow problems at work will translate to your spouse as financial problems at home. Even when things are going well at work, without full understanding, our spouses may still be nervous over how we are spending the company’s resources. Are you sure we should expand? Can we afford another employee?
The key to pursuing financial security in a way that blesses your marriage is to be on the same page with your spouse. This requires talking about it!
Ask your spouse:
What information do you want to know about the business to give you piece of mind that we are making wise decisions?
What are your fears and concerns about finances?
What can I do to work towards your version of financial security?
And, it is also important for you to communicate your own answers to these questions for them.
Just knowing that you are both on the same page working towards the same goals can really make all of the difference.
3. Spending time together.
This is an obvious one. When you first started dating your spouse, you did anything to spend time together. You gave up sleep. Left work early for dates. Snuck phone calls whenever you could.
We need time together to have closeness and intimacy.
Yet our business needs our time too. After all we are wearing a ton of hats and we are responsible for all of the decisions. Our employees need time with us too.
It is laughable when we hear people say that they want to start their own business so that they will have more time flexibility. We all know that doesn’t happen.
Our challenge as business owners is to make sure we plan time with our spouse first. Things will always come up in business and if we don’t prioritize our marriage it will soon feel to our spouse like we cherish our business over them.
4. Having Home Harmony.
Do you have a peaceful home? We want our family to be excited when they hear us arrive home. That is difficult when we are coming home from work with the weight of the world on our shoulders.
When we bring our business stress home, we usually are distant and distracted at best. We are grumpy and angry at worst.
Dan Seaborn gave a great example of a solution that he employed to preserve his own home harmony. Dan says he put a sticky on the wall under his light switch at work that said “Leave all work and stress here!” He said he would switch off the light and kneel down and pray before he left the office each day to do just this.
He is a pastor so it didn’t look strange, but we can pray in our heads!
The Necessary Nine
The other 5 strategies are available in their book The Necessary Nine – How to Stay Happily Married for Life! You can get their expert take on all nine.
As a business owner we know we get pulled in every direction. Even as a marriage counselor, I couldn’t rank myself high on all nine. However, as Christians, we know what is most important.
We are called to cherish Christ first, then our spouse, then our families, and somewhere later our work. Don’t get me wrong, I know our business provides for our family which is part of loving them, however, we can all be reminded about the priority.
Our marriages are more important than our businesses. They are. I am going to re-commit my efforts to these strategies. In the end, I believe that a strong marriage and the support of a committed spouse can only help our business!
For more posts on marriage, visit our marriage section on our sister site, The Crossroads We Encounter.
Sherry Brown says