Let’s start with things that make my lawyer happy. Disclosure: I am not a licensed therapist or licensed anything. I’m not giving marriage advice, but I have been an entrepreneur for almost ten years, and I am celebrating my 15th wedding anniversary this month. So, I speak from experience.
Out of all the advice you’re given about how to prepare for marriage, I’d bet money that no on advised you to start a business together first. Not because running a business doesn’t offer valuable lessons to help strengthen all relationships like marriage. It does, but when thinking about the love and warmth of an intimate forever, ever union, people hardly ever defer to the cold, hard arrangement of business relationships as the roadmap to a successful marriage.
In Mommy Retailing, (Chapter 7 & 8), I talk about the “common pitfalls to avoid in business.” The thing about pitfalls is that often the hard lessons can be prevented as in all relationships, but only if you are aware of them.
Here’s what business has taught me about marriage:
1. Have a Defined Structure and Purpose. Just like business partnerships, establishing the dynamics of your relationship and setting goals as a couple from the outset are crucial to the long-term success of marriage. This is also the basis for a business plan and becomes ‘the master plan’ for your life together.
2. Communication is key. Thriving relationships have the hallmarks of prioritizing excellent, open, respectful, and accountable communication. Poor communication has ruined more relationships than I care to count. The best way to avoid this pitfall is to make plans together and schedule times to regularly check in on each other. I may or may not call my husband 12 times a day just to say hello. Be sure to focus on what’s important to your spouse. Listen. Help your spouse express their feelings and empathize when needed. Don’t be a fixer. Often time we just want to be heard.
3. Manage expectations up front. A huge part of managing expectations is the actual expectation. Make sure to set expectations that are realistic and achievable for everyone involved. Most entrepreneurs have high expectations and tend to micromanage or be a bit of a perfectionist. It’s important to provide what your customers expect. It’s equally important to apply that same logic to your marriage. Don’t assume everyone knows what is going to happen next. Keep the communication lines open and encourage feedback often.
Remember, business and marriage is not a sprint but a marathon. You’re in this thing together.