Are you married to an entrepreneur or considering marrying an entrepreneur?
Here are 9 things you should know about the unique stresses (and joys!) of having an entrepreneur as your spouse
1. Entrepreneurs are always “on”
When your spouse is an entrepreneur, they are always thinking about possibilities. This is not the type of person who leaves their work at the office and is totally there for the family the moment they return home in the evening. Their minds are constantly whirling and mostly occupied by thoughts of growing their business model or getting their product to market before the competition gets there first.
2. Be comfortable living with someone who is high-energy
Entrepreneurs are not spouses content to stay in each night binge-watching Netflix. If you need a spouse who is home every night participating in family life, marrying an entrepreneur is not for you. But if you thrive in a relationship where energy is a large part of the equation and you get joy seeing your spouse excited and full of optimism, your marriage to an entrepreneur will be a satisfying one.
3. You are fine with being alone
Since entrepreneurs are frequent travelers—crisscrossing the country getting investors interested in their business idea—you need to be content with spending a large amount of your time alone. Thankfully there is Facetime, Skype and other ways to be in touch with your spouse.
4. You can go with the flow
An entrepreneur’s schedule can be unpredictable. You may have dinner ready when you get the text that he must get on the next flight to New York; there’s a CEO that wants to meet him and hear about his idea. If you have the type of personality that is frustrated when things do not go as planned, marriage to an entrepreneur will be a source of disappointment for you. But if you love spontaneity and are fine with things changing at the last minute, you are well-matched with an entrepreneur as your spouse.
5. You are not at the centre stage
Entrepreneurs’ marriages typically have one of the partners who assumes the supporting role, while the entrepreneur seeks the limelight. Rarely are both partners extroverts and fame-seeking, although couples such as Bill and Melinda Gates both manage to excel in their chosen fields. However, they are not the norm. If you are married to an entrepreneur, you are probably content to stay in the shadows, doing the work necessary to make your entrepreneur’s life smooth and stress-free. If you are the entrepreneur in the marriage, you probably have a spouse who does these important supportive tasks for you. Do take the time to acknowledge them, because without them you would not shine like you do.
6. You are open to taking on financial risk
If you are married to an entrepreneur, you need to get used to your spouse taking huge financial risks. Sometimes it will be with other people’s money—like investors’—but sometimes it may be with your own assets, including your home. Make sure you are comfortable with living with cash flow that can be at times unstable. The rewards may be incredible, but there is always some stress while waiting for that return on investment.
7. Know how to properly manage your money
When your entrepreneurial spouse hits the big time, and the IPO of the company makes you millionaires be sure you are prepared for knowledgeable stewardship of your new wealth. Research financial advisors, best investments that will provide you with tax incentives and breaks, as well as perhaps setting up some charitable contributions or philanthropic agencies. Handle the money as if your livelihood depends on it because it does!
8.To keep your marriage on the right track, set up some guidelines
It’s great to be 100% behind your entrepreneurial spouse. But to ensure that your marriage stays sane while he is concentrating on growing his project, it helps to establish some rules. Talk about your expectations. Schedule a date night (the frequency depends on you and your needs) where phones are turned off and your attention is focused on each other. Have a standing “Just Us” weekend (again, you decide what is feasible) where you do something fun and couple-enhancing. Brad Feld, the experienced entrepreneur and ground-breaking author of Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur, calls these “Life Dinners”.
9. Socialize with other couples in the same situation
This isn’t to say you should abandon friends who are in more classic marriages, but you will find kindred spirits when you build a network of friends in entrepreneur marriages. You’ll be able to empathize with the types of complaints the non-entrepreneur may have, and you will find support when you need a shoulder to cry on. It’s important to feel understood with the unique challenges inherent in a marriage to an entrepreneur, and if you cultivate friendships with others in the same situation, you will always find someone who “gets” what you are going through.
Amongst couples where one is an entrepreneur, there’s a common saying: Being an entrepreneur is the second hardest job in the world. Staying happily married is the first. In many ways, marriage and entrepreneurship can appear to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. Entrepreneurship is a risk-taking act of daredevil uncertainty, and marriage is about stability and reliability. But many couples are thriving in their entrepreneur marriages, and would not have things any other way. If you are one of them, celebrate!