Being an entrepreneur is as exciting as it is challenging. There are new opportunities to do creative work—work you find purpose in—and to grow as a professional. For all the excitement, though, there are also plenty of challenges, particularly ones that affect a marriage. Gail and I have experienced this in our 40 years together.
Long hours, late nights, bringing work home, and working on weekends can all cause a lot of strain. That kind of stress can only weigh on a marriage for so long before something has to change. The good news is, the steps you take toward that change are also where you can find rich opportunities.
So how do entrepreneurs achieve their dreams without sabotaging their marriages in the process? As an entrepreneur, you can help your spouse (and yourself) by giving him or her these four gifts:
- The gift of awareness. As hyper-focused high achievers, it’s easy to see ourselves as the center of the show. But we’re not—no matter the accolades we receive, the work we do, or the amount of money we make doing it. We have to be aware of all the material and nonmaterial contributions our spouses make to our lives.
- The gift of inclusion. Inviting our spouses into our businesses and making them feel included creates intimacy, builds trust, and brings us together. It doesn’t necessarily mean hiring them. Even just receiving input or counsel keeps our spouses in the loop and sets our marriages up for success.
- The gift of commitment. Given the risk of entrepreneurial endeavors, some of the most important words we can say (and hear) are, “We’re a team and we’re in this together, no matter what.” Communicating that kind of commitment regularly can get you and your spouse through almost anything.
- The gift of presence. The entrepreneurial life is full of ups and downs and unknowns. To prevent things from going wrong, we can easily overwork. Oftentimes, we overcompensate too. That only ends up taking from our marriages, not giving to them. Instead, we can bless our spouses by realizing it doesn’t all hang on our shoulders alone and deciding ahead of time not to shortchange our families as we build our businesses. As important as our physical and mental presence is at work, so it is at home.
Having a happy marriage and an entrepreneurial career is possible. Things might not be perfect, but experience has taught Gail and me that it can get better and better as you invest in your marriage.
Which of these gifts can you give more of to your spouse so you can win at work and succeed in life at home?