It’s no secret that marriage can be a rollercoaster. But when you add that entrepreneurial spirit in the mix, it can make things even more
So let’s uncover the pitfalls of being married to an entrepreneurial soul but also learn how to support your entrepreneur spouse.
Marriage is Hard.
Even without the head-and-heartache that comes with being an entrepreneur, marriage is hard.
Like, it’s really tough stuff, sometimes.
Divorce statistics are always fluctuating, but it seems like they’re always dangerously close to about 50%.
So even just normal marriages can be difficult to maintain.
There are no hardline numbers for divorces amongst entrepreneurial couples, but something tells me that the odds are not in our favor based on a quick Google search.
I mean, even Jim and Pam’s relationship suffered a little when he finally started to pursue his Athleap dreams… And they were basically perfect.
So, Why is it So Hard to be Married to an Entrepreneur?
This is probably an obvious one, but a reason none the less.
Starting your own business isn’t as glamorous as Instagram would have many of us believe.
It’s a lot of hard work for very little pay (at least in the beginning).
When Shawn wanted to start side businesses, it usually took quite an investment from our own pockets because there would be some guru telling you to join their training, get a coach, or read their playbook.
I mean, we have probably spent $10,000 in joining trainings alone since 2016.
That’s not including whatever money we spent on Facebook marketing, pay-per-click, or whatever dumb sales-y thing we got suckered into that “guaranteed qualified leads” in whatever industry we were pursuing at the time.
And I wish I were kidding when I say we burned a lot of money (and time) trying to get those past sidle hustles to work. The best example yet is our short time in the drop-shipping business.
We ate it up and drop shipping spit. us. out.
But like I said, money is probably the biggest reason couples fight in general. And it’s especially a big reason couples fight when it comes to starting a business.
Cause, in general, it takes a little bit coin in the pocket to get things going… And when you see your spouse spending money that could be going towards a new vehicle that you guys really need, it can be a little frustrating.
Side Story: Shawn had a 1999 4Runner from when we started dating until around 2019. That thing was the bane of my existence. It squealed when it started up, it clanked because the sway-bar (or whatever) kept getting unhinged; and it had NO air conditioning, which cannot fly in Atlanta summers. But he refused to get a new car because that car was paid off and was working just fine.
And to make matters even worse, their little entrepreneurial brains seem to have no problem with spending money on things that might have a good return on investment.
And there’s nothing us supportive spouses want to do less than tell you “no,” when you’re asking to spend this money.
Because, who knows? Maybe this will be the big break.
Maybe this will get all the leads you need and more.
Who am I to deny you your dream, even if it means we’re going to have to keep the 4Runner another two years.
If they’re anything, it’s not risk-adverse when it comes to spending money.
Like Shawn always says:
Sometimes what you can’t invest in money, you make up for with sweat equity.
Anyone who even remotely knows what goes on behind the scenes of an entrepreneur’s life knows the countless hours that are poured into their business.
This means the family might be getting the short end of the stick when it comes to quality time.
Once Shawn started taking SEO building seriously for his real estate wholesaling business, it felt like every waking second that wasn’t spent at his 9-to-5 was given to that website.
Building backlinks, learning about how to optimize pages, reading books on sales copy, or writing HARO (Help a Reporter Out) emails.
I honestly felt really forgotten during that time.
It was hard to simply leave him alone and not demand attention. I kinda felt like the little kid who would purposely get in trouble just to get mommy’s attention.
So sometimes starting fights would be the only way to drag him away from the computer and back into our marriage.
I was needy, bitter, and a little bit lonely.
There are only so many hours in the day, and spending those hours effectively can be really difficult.
A work-life-balance is hard for “normal” people, it’s seemingly impossible for entrepreneurs.
There are so many times that I’d hear entrepreneurs say something along the lines of:
“Well once I get the business up ad going, I’ll have all the time in the world to spend with my spouse.”
And although I understand the logic behind that, there comes a point in time where you have to consider will you even have a marriage/family to give all this “free time” to once you reach your goal?
If you spend months on end pushing your spouse’s needs to the side, a breaking point will follow. Some have a higher threshold than others, but no one is totally without one.
It’s no lie when people say the startup life isn’t for everyone.
Starting a new business is stressful (especially if you’re the risk-taking type).
And supporting your spouse through it can be a whole other level of stressful.
I’m not sure I’ve ever been more upset than when Shawn gets down on himself, starts second guessing his ideas, or gets worn down by the hustle.
It truly breaks my heart.
I go through the pain, excitement, and disappointments, too. I feel them just as deeply… But then I have the added bonus of also seeing my husband when he feels defeated.
And to make things worse: sometimes I’m too caught up with my own stress from school that I feel guilty that I can’t stress about his problems.
It puts me in a pickle, leaving me confused and frustrated.
Not to mention the stress of trying my damndest to make sure Shawn doesn’t have anything around the house to do so he can just jump right into working on the side business.
It’s a task most spouses take upon themselves, usually thinking “it’s the least I could do!”
… as they make dinner, keep the kids away from mommy/daddy while they’re working, do chores, etc, etc.
Or even the stress of having to help out. This is a real big one for some couples.
Sometimes the spouse finds themselves having to learn about contract law, the steps for setting up an LLC, or even becoming the guinea pig for tech ideas.
It’s not exactly what most people picture their lives will be like when they say “I do.”
In turn, you usually end up feeling taken advantage of or circling back to feeling lonely.
It can feel like a vicious cycle.
But hope is not lost! Being married to an entrepreneur isn’t all doom and gloom.
This blog isn’t meant to scare you away from your marriage.
It’s to help you learn how to live harmoniously and happily through the rollercoaster that is entrepreneurship.
What Can Entrepreneurs Do to Help Sustain Their Marriage?
Marriage is a give and take.
Entrepreneurs can communicate, set boundaries, and nurture their marriages.
Ok, read that again.
It says C O M M U N I C A T E.
Not just talk.
Not just rely on “I feel _____” statements.
Not just tell one another what needs to change.
Everyone needs to communicate.
(And this is a great piece of advice for all marriages, by the way)
Communication is the sum total of your body language, tone, words, and actions. It’s the message behind the message.
It’s the way you roll your eyes when you apologize or how you promise your wife you’ll spend more time with her without making eye contact at all.
It’s the nuances that make the difference.
The best kind of communication is when both parties go into it ready to listen and willing to be wrong.
I know no one likes that last part.
This is literally how I look going into arguments with Shawn knowing I have to try and understand his perspective:
But it’s the only way we’re able to move past any of our issues or hurt feelings.
Not only do we have to tell them why we’re in pain or why something needs to change, we have to make sure that they listened and comprehended the message.
Otherwise, we’re all just waiting for our turn to speak.
2. Set Boundaries
To piggy back off of the communication bit, it’s important that you make your boundaries really clear.
If you, as the entrepreneur, really need for Saturdays to be your rise and grind day, let your spouse know.
Come up with a plan to make that happen. Don’t just assume that they’ll know that’s what you expect because you woke up early and immediately got to work.
Side Story: There was one day, close to one of my law school finals week, Shawn wanted to go driving for dollars after we went and viewed a potential duplex. I was fine with it, but I knew that I also needed to get some studying done. I thought we’d maybe drive around for an hour. He, however, was under the impression that we were going to D4D for several hours until I needed to be dropped off at school for a class. This caused a lot of tension in the car when we drove around from about 11:30am until 2:30pm.
What could’ve helped us out? Communication and setting boundaries.
Making boundaries crystal clear is one way to
1) keep everyone on the same page;
2) ensure no one is left feeling abandoned or taken advantage of;
3) and avoid fights and tension within your marriage and household.
3. Nurture Your Marriage
Finally, you have to nurture your marriage.
It’s like a house plant. It needs to be watered regularly*
*Regularly is relative, by the way… succulents can go awhile without water, a ficus needs that fuel at least once a week.
One of the biggest tools we used in learning how to water our “love plant” is learning our Love Language.
I’m sure you’ve probably heard of the book, but you need to seriously check it out. (It’s only like $10 on Amazon right now. And yes, that’s an affiliate link)
Read it and learn about your own love language.
Do you feel that warm fuzzy feeling when your spouse tells you that he’s so thankful for all the help you’ve done in getting the LLC complete?
Or does having one-on-one time with your entrepreneur (without any emails or screens around) make you feel the most loved?
Then also learn how you tend to show love.
Some people show their appreciation and love by doing things for their spouse. Maybe they took the dog out instead of waiting for you to do it.
Or maybe they bought you a little gift that they knew you’d appreciate or needed.
Learn all of the things about Love Languages and then implement them.
Nurture your marriage by taking the time out of your day to learn what things will make it grow big and strong.
Just to Recap
Make sure you and your entrepreneur are actively working towards open communication.
Thinking that you’ll just naturally do these things is setting yourself up for failure.
A good marriage (and good business) requires a lot of preparation.
It takes meetings, negotiating, and team work.
Love is a great foundation, but it won’t get you across the finish line. Not on its own.
So make sure your team (your marriage) is taking the right steps by planning, communicating, and doing what you need to to make sure your spouse feels loved.