Never ever discount the idea of marriage. Sure, someone might tell you that marriage is just a piece of paper. Well, so is money, and what’s more life-affirming than cold, hard cash?- Jimmy Miller
It may seem rather crass to equate marriage to business practice, but there is certainly something to it. Like all good businesses, good marriages rely on stable partnerships, a unifying vision, and a willingness to endure the lumps and blind curves with a heartiness of heart and a resolute spirit.
So, here’s the thing, friend. If you consider yourself a Pollyanna who views marriage as a series of rainbows and fairy tales, you may not want to read any further. Further, if you are under the impression that your marriage partner will always see eye-to-eye with your bevy of hopes and dreams, you may not want to read on. Marriage is business. In fact, a good marriage can inform good business. It you are truly interested in maintaining a lifetime connection with a partner that honors and shares your vision and priorities, you may be inclined to look at marriage and business as complementary.
Marriage and Business as Startups
When we begin new projects and place new priorities at the forefront of our lives, we are often invigorated by tremendous hope and energy. We want our marriage to succeed and we certainly want our businesses to succeed too. But let’s remember, passion alone will not lead to marriage and business success. We need a plan – a vision – that reaches beyond the white-hot energy of the initial days. When the honeymoon in marriage or business is over, what are the next steps we will take to promote long-term health and viability?
Actualized marriages and business have a “plan” that’s geared toward long-term outcomes. When things are going better than expected or are absolutely falling apart, we stick with the plan. This unifying vision or business statement, built upon strong communication and a tremendous amount of compromise, will help our unions move forward in a deliberate and consistent way. Shared priorities also imply that we have walked through a healthy process of conversation and planning. In reality, the process may be far more important than the actual outcomes.
Like it or not, a healthy revenue stream is the lifeblood of both businesses and successful marriages. With all the operating expenses involved in cultivating a healthy family and company, we must have financial tools in place that enable us to put our grand plans into action. Where does the revenue come from? Employment, investments, and liquid assets help us to move forward in a productive and sustainable way. As many businesses close when revenue declines, many families disintegrate when financial concerns become the dominant concerns. As you may know, financial duress is a leading precursor of divorce. Sad but true.
Division of Labor
We all play specific roles in marital partnerships and businesses. Inasmuch, it is helpful to understand all the “team members” specific roles and how these roles impact the health and vitality of the whole. Nimbleness in these various roles is also appropriate. Knowing how to do someone else’s job – like balancing the books, caring for the kids and the like – will give couples and business an all-weather resiliency. If no one steps forward to take on the various tasks of business and family life, health will unravel.
An Emergency Plan
Relationships and businesses have trouble from time-to-time. How we have prepared for this trouble will determine our ability to move beyond the trouble. When things are good in the marriage and the business, it is important to sit down with our partners and craft an emergency plan that provides everyone with tools to reach beyond the trouble. When the revenue stream runs dry, who will one seek for help? If one of us becomes incapacitated and is unable to fulfill our obligations to the marriage or business what will be among our next steps? If we can no longer work together in a healthy and considerate way, what will we do to peacefully end our partnership?
A Succession Plan
Business and marriages go through various phases of evolution. The reality is, there will come a time when death or decline will render us incapable of carrying on the partnership. What do we leave behind in our absence? Do we leave behind a good foundation and future to those who will follow us, or do we create a legacy of disgust, profound grief, and rampant uncertainty?
Healthy marriages provide relational “best practices” for our children and grandchildren. If we have modeled a sturdiness and openhandedness in our love for our partners and families, then there’s a high likelihood that our loved ones will adopt these traits too. If we have failed miserably in relationship, there’s a high likelihood that those who follow us will fail miserably too.
Healthy businesses also have a robust succession plan. The succession plan identifies that practices and relationships that made the business viable, and equips successors to continue to take the business in a healthy direction.
We all see to build partnerships that last. In marriage as well as business, the best partnerships always share a foundation of mutual understanding as well as trust. In other words, if we truly desire for our businesses and families to enjoy unbridled success and health, then we need to be intentional about investing in the relationship. Time together, shared experiences, robust conversation, and hearty compassion for the other will help our businesses and intimate relationships flourish.