I am married to the single greatest woman on this planet.
There is no way I could do what I do without her understanding, support and unconditional love. I have been an entrepreneur and a risk taker for a long time. Most of the girls I dated were a bit frightened by the fact that I didn’t want to be a doctor or a lawyer. Most of their parents were scared stiff!
The combination made me quickly realize that my soulmate would be someone who would embrace what I was instead of what I wasn’t.
Of course there are many other reasons that I married my wife – all of which are more important and personal than simply being willing to handle some ambiguity in my career path. At the risk of sounding a bit corny, I did marry my best friend. We have too much fun together.
I could live without my work or my company. I can’t say the same about her. All of this has a point. If you are an unmarried entrepreneur you should take some real-time in selecting your partner! Due diligence is an understatement here.
The following are a few characteristics you might want to look for or look out for in a potential spouse if you plan to be an entrepreneur:
- They aren’t scared by financial instability. Have they ever experienced it themselves? Do they always have to have the latest of everything? In other words, if you are a boot strapping entrepreneur, can they handle it?
- Can they be supportive of demanding hours, particularly in the early years? I think a successful entrepreneur is one that puts their time in and makes the necessary sacrifices, but along the way they shift the balance of their time towards their spouse and family. If you plan to be happily married, you have to successfully make this transition. Can your spouse handle this time line though?
- What kind of house did they grow up in? The reason I ask is sometimes a spouse had an entrepreneurial parent(s) and things didn’t go well. Those types of experiences can scar someone for awhile and make them understandably uncomfortable with you doing anything entrepreneurial.
- Could they handle the public “shame” of failure? Some people just can’t handle it if they have to do anything public that signifies failure. As I’ve noted before failure can lead to success – so be sure you marry someone that can make it thru that.
- How high is their risk tolerance/aversion? Sometimes opposites attract and a low-risk spouse can be a good counter balance to a gun-slinging entrepreneur. I think this is probably somewhat unique though. For the most part, a spouse that is comfortable with risk will be a better fit for you.
Invest in your marriage
Most entrepreneurs don’t give their marriage the time and attention it deserves. I am not proud to admit this, but I am absolutely guilty of it myself.
The work is who we are – it can consume us and leave room for little else. Our marriages can suffer and end as a result. Unfortunately, this a sad and frequent byproduct of entrepreneurship. We are hard to live with in a lot of ways. Again, I know that I am guilty of all the above. It is tough!
The hours we keep, the ups and downs in our financial status, and the constant workload can make for a rather unrewarding marriage if that is all we have to offer.
The key really is a cheesy old saying, “work hard and play hard!”
As the years go by, and your energy level wanes, the balance of your time should move towards your spouse, not your company. I think this is where a lot of entrepreneurs and their marriages take a turn for the worst. I am right in the middle of this myself and am actually listening to my own advice.
I fully expect to work my butt off for a while – and you should too. I do not expect to be working this hard forever though. I am not going to become a lazy or disinterested person – I simply will have figured out how to get everything done in under 40 hours a week!
On a more positive note, hopefully we can all have a marriage that will grow stronger and more fulfilling each year. We will have found professional success and have realized the fruits that go along with that. Then we get to share them, year after year, with our best friend that has patiently waded through the swamp with you! Nothing could be more rewarding.
I work every day of my life with this image in my mind. I am consumed with what I do – but I continually plan my goals in accordance with a life centered around my spouse and family.
In other words, if I am blogging often in 10 years about the multitude of businesses I own and am working on, then I have failed.