David K. Williams, the contributor of the Forbes magazine, claimed that “one of the most critical (and most unsung) roles in an entrepreneurial company is not the founder or owner—it’s the role of that person’s significant spouse.” But it usually is not easy at all. One of the famous researchers of this subject is Trisha Harp, founder of the Harp Family Institute. Her master thesis on “Spousal Satisfaction in Entrepreneurs Couples” in which she reveals her study about the relation between entrepreneurship and marriage are bringing lots of useful advice and insights when it comes to this subject of great importance for the marriages as well as entrepreneurship itself.
Considering the most usual complaints people are giving when it comes to entrepreneurship’s effects on their marriage, it can be noticed that their common nominator is fear. That fear is completely understandable, but controlling it would lead to more constructive and less stressful entrepreneurship as well as marriage. Trisha Harp, among many others, made a work of pointing us to the ways of behavior that could serve to that purpose.
1. Transparency and honesty
In the majority of cases, what is actually contributing to the fear and the lack of trust isn’t the real troubles that are existing or might occur, but foggy and blur image of what is actually going on. That leads to dark apprehensions, concealment, and anxiety. Therefore, Harp emphasizes on the importance of sharing all aspects of the business, no matter how contrary they might look. Truthful and updated presentation of the business development are the key components when it comes to building trust, confidence, and togetherness.
On the other hand, honesty is also essential when expressing fears and doubts. Solid, open communication and playing with “open cards” gives the entrepreneur’s spouse the opportunity to replace fear with curiosity.
Being an entrepreneur can be quite lonely sometimes, and having a good listener by his side with whom he can share his ideas and concerns, is enormously revealing and motivating.
2. Supporting and cheerleading
Trisha Harp strongly suggests that it is highly important for the spouses to feel like members of the same team. Her research showed that those who shared their business and family goals scored higher when it comes to feeling satisfied with the marriage and other fields of life as well. If one partner feels like another one’s business is his own as well, that they share the same interest, he will act in an encouraging and supporting manner.
Feeling understood, appreciated and supported have the vital role in any entrepreneur’s success. There is no need to know about the business as much as the spouse who runs them since the intellectual help is much easier to find than the emotional. Simply asking if there is anything you could help, giving an honest feedback and encouraging when needed, is completely enough for an entrepreneur to feel better and give his best. Therefore, it is not surprising that, as Trisha Harp’s data is showing, an entrepreneur in the majority of cases have a high level of gratitude for all the help and support their spouses provide to them.
3. Life-work balance
Another reasonable fear most entrepreneur’s spouses have is that giving so much time and energy to the business won’t save much for the marriage. Entrepreneurship definitely requires serious dedication and many sacrifices, but there are also the times when all those efforts pay themselves. Despite all the difficulties they are facing, the majority of spouses claimed they would marry their entrepreneur again.
No time for family or anything only means poor management of time. Even if entrepreneur will never have it as much as some other people, the quality of time spent together is much more important and that one is completely up to you.
Chris Myers, another Forbes contributor believes that, when it comes to entrepreneurs, that life-work balance story is a myth. But it does not represent the problem because the old definition of the work as something you have to do in order to earn money does not fit in the modern concept of entrepreneurship.
For many businessmen, the job they are doing is much more than just striving for profit. It is their passion, expression of their profound values and affections. The line between life and work isn’t so strict anymore, and someone’s self-actualization through work will make him better in his personal life also.