How to Beat the Odds and Stay Married as an Entrepreneur
BY Carrie Kerpen
You may be too busy to buy roses, but it's important to show loved ones you care. A business owner shares her secrets to a happy relationship with her husband--who's also her co-founder.
As entrepreneurs, we seem to be busy all the time. This can leave us tired and drained and, more often than not, can take a toll on our relationships. It has been suggested many times that entrepreneurs have a higher divorce rate than that of average people, which makes sense given the added financial strain and pressure. Add a holiday like Valentine's Day to the mix, and you're basically screwed. How can you find the time to get the perfect gift when you're busy (feeling like you're) running the world?
As an entrepreneur who's married to her co-founder and received multiple gifts from that co-founder over the years, I offer you these foolproof tips that will get you out of hot water and into a hot marriage this Valentine's Day.
1. "Act as if" your spouse is a really big deal.
Author A.J. Jacobs talks about self-delusion for entrepreneurs. By tricking your brain to believe you are something, you then become it. Therefore, if you "act as if" your spouse is the most important thing in your universe, then soon he or she will be. Running a business can feel all-consuming. It's quite normal to feel completely obsessed with your company. But if you're married, it's important to remember that making your spouse feel remembered and loved is important--even if your spouse says it's no big deal. It may sound simple, but make sure your marriage is a priority in your life. If you "act as if,” so it shall be.
2. Figure out your spouse's love language.
My husband, Dave, first introduced me to the 5 Love Languages after an entrepreneurs conference he attended. Essentially, we give presents the way we expect to receive them, but many times our partner doesn't want the same things we want. Some people love the gift of quality time, for instance, while others love acts of service (sometimes taking out the trash is everything!), while certain people want to be showered in lavish gifts that they can show off to their friends.
Take a look at the 5 Love Languages here. Can you guess what your partner likes? Have your partner take the test and see if it matches up to what you thought he or she might enjoy most. More often than not, a spouse will guess incorrectly! It's also important to know your own love language and to communicate that with your spouse. Once you know this, gift giving becomes immensely easier and saves a busy entrepreneur lots of wasted time and frustration over picking the wrong gifts.
3. Once you know the language, make giving a habit.
If your spouse loves receiving gifts, consider giving small gifts on days when they’re least expected. (Everyone gets presents on Valentine's Day, but how many people get gifts on Spouse's Day, which is on January 26? Or, my personal favorite--March 16, which is Everything You Do Is Right Day?)
If your spouse loves acts of service, pick up a chore or two that you usually don't do! The trick to great gift giving is to recognize your spouse year round, not just on Valentine's Day. And because we're so consumed as entrepreneurs, we need systems to do that.
I schedule reminders to buy the unexpected gift and even to write a handwritten note to my husband. It may seem formulaic, but it helps me manage my time and have a happier partner!
Below is an example of an entrepreneur's Valentine's Day that I hope you'll all enjoy. My husband, Dave, loves words of affirmation (particularly ones that are public). And so, I pretended we were being interviewed for a publication about being married entrepreneurs. In reality, I was making him this Valentine's gift. So Happy Valentine's Day, Dave.
As for the rest of you, may you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day that's filled with the language that you love.
CARRIE KERPEN is the co-founder and CEO of Likeable Media, which she grew from a husband-and-wife consulting firm into a global social media and word-of-mouth marketing agency. She led her team to more than $15 million in revenue and landed the agency on the Inc. 500 in 2011 and 2012. @CarrieKerpen