Women in the Business Arena™ EP98: Husbands, Life Partners & Business...Oh My!

“When your business becomes your lover, how do you navigate that with your partner?”
- Laura Shook-Guzman (3:09-3:17)

Entrepreneurs are bound to face relationship challenges when starting a new business. Whether it’s managing the relationships you build with your clients or making sure your team members are committed to a shared vision, business owners are no strangers to navigating relationship dynamics.

However, it’s the intimate relationships we have with our partners that can suffer the most. Many women entrepreneurs find it hard to deal with changes in relationship roles, shared finances, and family responsibilities. 

“As we forge new ways of working, we have to talk about this in our partnerships and how it changes the way we’re getting our needs met.”
Laura Shook-Guzman (37:33-37:56)

Many women take the entrepreneurial leap without thinking about the potential strains on their relationships. Husbands may feel neglected or left out. A business crisis can interrupt vacations or a romantic date. As a business owner, it’s almost impossible to compartmentalize. The strain on relationships can be great, and some couples even eventually decide to throw in the towel, unable to confront painful emotions that are involved. Being aware of the danger of this can help us to approach potential challenges strategically, avoid becoming another statistic, and maintain healthy and long-lasting relationships with our partners. 

Business Changes That Lead to Relationship Challenges

Changes in our business ultimately affect our relationships, for better or for worse. In long-term relationships, partners tend to find their natural flow of responsibilities at work and home.  However, in entrepreneurship, as a business evolves those roles often have to change. For example, mothers who decide to start a business have less time to meet the needs of their children, causing their partners to have to take on additional duties at home. These growing pains can disrupt the flow at home, and cause tension in relationships.

Finance is one of the leading points of contention between most partners, and one of the main causes of relationship breakdown. Building a business results in huge financial shifts. Financial unpredictability can lead to anxiety and disagreements over money. New businesses can struggle to turn a profit early on. This can drive a wedge between you and your partner. 

Conflicts in your business and at home are often charged with emotions, causing communication from a place of reaction instead of thoughtful response. Unpleasant emotions make it hard to be objective in moments when we need to be understanding of the other person’s needs. 

In a relationship, especially when starting and running a business, it is understandable and normal to face challenges. Rather than push back against the changes that occur, partners can honor the changes and recognize that things will be difficult at times. This perspective can empower both individuals in the relationship to work together to overcome obstacles and be stronger on the other side. 

“When we seek to understand our partners, and we’re open to listening, it becomes easy to resolve conflict.”
 - Sonya Stattmann (25:45-26:01)

Strategies to Make It Through the Challenges

Here a few strategies to help you navigate your business and relationship challenges. 

  • Ask your partner what they need to feel seen or safe.
  • Identify what you need to feel secure in your relationship and business.
  • Reach out to a counselor or other mediator who can help you address difficult challenges.

Intentional and deliberate actions lead to greater awareness and more effective communication between you and your partner. In the end, you’ll create a relationship and business that is successful and sustainable. 

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