Help! My Business Is Thriving, but My Marriage Is Suffering!

woman headache

“Raising our kids and being an entrepreneur wasn’t easy. Being in a startup and having a successful relationship and family was very hard work.  But entrepreneurs can be great spouses and parents.”  Steve Blank – serial entrepreneur, educator and founder of The Lean Startup movement.

The title of this article might throw some of you off at first. Some of you who aren’t work-at-home moms yet might be wondering what the hell I’m talking about. “Aren’t I getting in the industry to spend more time with my hubby and kids?” you ask.

Sure, in a perfect world.

On the other hand, all of the current work-at-home moms reading this who’ve already started cracking the whip on their own businesses are thinking, “Oh – this is a must-read! I haven’t had a chance to tell my husband I love him in….wait, what day is it?”

Why the Difference?

Well, many women don’t fully understand the scope of work that can accompany an entrepreneurial venture. Realistically for most of us, it takes a blistering walk through Hell in a Snuggie and some combat boots to get to the point where we feel comfortable in our businesses.

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but to be successfully solo, you’ll probably have to work harder at your venture than you probably would at your current job, at least until you gain some traction. In other words, you’ll sometimes wonder if you are, in fact, married to your work.

In fact, according to a recent statistics, as more women make the leap into entrepreneurship, more marriages are failing. “We know that the average divorce rate has jumped to above 50 percent,” said Dr. Patty Ann Tublin, author of Not Tonight Dear, I’ve Got a Business to Run! “These odds increase exponentially when you combine them with entrepreneurship.”

The good thing is, unless you have a deadline or a client or customer breathing down your back, you my friend, are mostly in charge of how, when, why and where you work (well, at least more so than at your 9-5 office gig).

So, back to the marriage thing – even though we work-at-home moms have a great deal of control over our schedules, we still tend to get caught up in the work load and lose sight of personal priorities. So if you find yourself in a more committed affair with your work than your significant other (and I can guarantee you that it’ll happen sooner or later), it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate the situation.

Here are some strategies to make the best of both relationships.

Set Expectations

According to Dr. Tublin, many marriages fail because of a women entrepreneur who has not properly set expectations with her spouse before embarking on entrepreneurialism. Tublin says to prevent this problem, female entrepreneurs need to create a Family Plan. Consisting of a discussion of money, time and spousal involvement, a Family Plan is just as important as the entrepreneur’s business plan, and clearly outlines expectations in advance so that no one is blindsided when things get chaotic.

Buy Yourself a Hot New Pair of Pumps

What?! I know – you’re digging this strategy, right? But seriously, it works! Go buy some pin-up stilettos (or flats, if that’s your thing), go indulge in a manicure, go get your hair done – do whatever the heck makes you feel hot. Because here’s the thing – the most important strategy for keeping your life on track is NOT to lose sight of yourself. Some women work so hard to be everything to everyone but neglect themselves and that can really take a toll on a relationship. Plus, when you feel good, you’re that much sexier to your spouse.

Work it Out

Okay, though this could be classified under loving yourself, it’s really an entirely different ball game. Exercising isn’t just about loving yourself, it’s about boosting your energy and making you feel good so that when you are done working, you’re in the best frame of mind to interact with your loved one. Even better? Grab his arm and drag him out for a run with you. It’s amazing what some fresh air and racing hearts will do for a relationship.

Run Away

But not too far. Just into your office or enclosed space that is all yours. Because Lord knows, we all need our space. Especially us women. With so many balls to juggle, work-at-home moms need a place of solace. A lack of this “special place,” especially when you’re working, leads to greater potential for chaos and arguments. So as much as you love your hubby, an enclosed space with boundaries serves as a relationship lifeboat.

Don’t Cheat

We all know cheating on your significant other is wrong, but what about cheating on your man with work? Are you guilty? Do you find yourself talking about work with your husband during the only time you get to spend together? Ladies – this is just as bad! C’mon, work is great and all but there’s plenty of other things to talk about when you’re not busting your ass, instead of busting your ass and then talking about busting your ass. Rather than vetting daily episodes of work hoopla with your husband, chat about the kids, weekend plans, vacation, or anything else that makes you both happy. Find it hard to separate the two? Visualize a fence in your head and plop your husband on one side and your work on the other – and leave them there! This isn’t to say you can’t ever talk about work to your hubby, just don’t do it constantly.

Indulge in a Pillow Fight

When I first embarked on working for myself, many long nights were spent up in the office on my “grind” after my hubby and son went to bed. Sometimes hubby would meander into the room like a lost puppy and try to hide his disappointment as I gave him a quick kiss and sent him off to bed. Though this is okay sometimes out of necessity, try to join your partner for bed at least twice a week. Have a chat, snuggle, and just reconnect. It’s good for the heart, and you’ll feel rejuvenated in the morning after snuggling with your man all night.

Be Spontaneous

There’s nothing new about men loving spontaneous women and if anything revitalizes a dull relationship – its spontaneity. I’m not saying you have to make a pit stop at Victoria’s Secret, but now that you have the flexibility to work when you want, use it to your advantage! Send the kids to grandma’s house and whisk him away on a 2-day mini vacation. Plan a picnic in the park. Go horseback riding. Go sky diving – I don’t care what you do! Do whatever, but get out and enjoy each other in ways you haven’t experienced yet! The thrill of something new keeps a relationship thriving during the most mundane times. And if you’re not glued to a corporate office chair anymore, why the heck not? You earned it!

Take a Long, Long Vacation

Granted, it might take a while to reach the financial point in your business where you can take longer, more distant vacations and not worry about your business falling to shambles. But whether it’s a weekend camping trip to a local park or a two-week long journey through Europe, be sure to set time aside to enjoy life with your family. Serial entrepreneur Steve Blank, a man who’s ran multiple successful start-ups, would take his family on at least a 3-week long vacation every summer. “Since my wife and I liked to hike, we’d explore national parks around the U.S.,” he said. “When the kids got older our adventures took us to Mexico, Ecuador, India, Africa and Europe.”

So What I’m Saying Is…

If you’re lucky enough to have a significant other in your life that supports you in your goals and dreams – don’t let business put a damper on your relationship. A great partner will stand behind you no matter what – but should be commended for doing so. No one said being a mom, wife and business owner was a walk in the park – but if you’re blessed enough to be in this situation, make sure you’re acknowledging your blessings.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa Stein owns, is a college business professor and a mom to Gabriela and Elle. Lisa is dedicated to playing a part in helping women and moms run a business they love, help support themselves and their family and create a flexible lifestyle. You can find her online on Facebook and Twitter or at home burning something in the kitchen.