Entrepreneurship can bring up uniquely difficult problems for couples. In the heat of getting a small business or startup off the ground, relationships with significant partners often suffer.
Nobody wants this, and the good thing is that there are things entrepreneurs and their significant others can do to mitigate these risks to the relationship.
Here 5 helpful tips from our panel with mental health experts, and you can scroll to the bottom to watch the whole session!
LIBERATE YOURSELF FROM THE IDEA THAT YOU AREN’T ENOUGH
If you’re the significant other of an entrepreneur, recognize that there is something that drives your partner that has nothing to do with you. You may be familiar with phrases like, “I’m doing all this for you, for the family, so we can have a better life,” etc. But this is rarely the true driver of the entrepreneur.
It’s usually something deeper, more personal to them and would be there regardless of who they were partnered with. Realizing this is liberating – it removes fears and anxieties about the relationship not being enough, the family not being enough, or that you could do something better or different to help sooth the entrepreneur’s energy.
2. RECOGNIZE THAT THE ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY CAN BE UNFAIR TO PARTNERS
Likewise, the entrepreneur in the relationship needs to realize how unfair the entrepreneurial journey is for the significant other! Your partner is on a ride they didn’t necessarily buy a ticket for, but they have to deal with it because the relationship is a system which affects them deeply.
Entrepreneurs who liberate their partners from “having to appreciate” how hard they work, and instead practice gratitude for the partner who shows patience during the late nights, checking email during family time, and other common entrepreneur behaviors, will find themselves and their partner in a much better place.
3. CREATE BUSINESS-FREE HANGOUT ZONES
Make sure you spend time together in which it is NOT ALLOWED to talk about outside-the-home work OR inside-the-home work. Every couple needs protected time anyway, especially if one or both is an entrepreneur.
4. CREATE WORK AND LIFE-ADMIN DISCUSSION ZONES
By the same token, also create dedicated time where the entrepreneurial spouse gets to talk about their business guilt-free, the other spouse can talk about their work, and both can talk about life admin/ the business of home and family. Knowing when these things will be talked about can ease a lot of anxiety and resentment.
5. TRY PASSING THE MEMO
Have a once-a-week, or once-a-month, time set aside where the 10-minute conversation goes like this: Each person gets to say exactly what they liked that week or month, and what they didn’t like. The person speaking isn’t allowed to explain past the surface level or defend why they feel that way – keep each thing to one sentence. The other person is not allowed to respond, defend or explain!
You will be surprised at how much stuff actually changes. A lot of times, issues don’t get addressed because we attempt to respond in the moment, instead of just hearing it. Why? Because the moment we start defending ourselves, we lose the capacity to help the other person.
Being an entrepreneur is hard, and partnership is hard! It’s ok that these things are challenging. But you’re certainly not alone!
Watch the whole session here for more context around these tips, plus 11 signs that a partner may be struggling with their mental health: