It's not exactly a secret that the roller coaster ride of entrepreneurship can be tough on relationships. A few founders have boldly shared stories of how growing their business almost cost them their marriage. Other start-up leaders have resigned from high-powered jobs citing the toll their work was taking on their families and spurring much discussion of the tension between growing a company and maintaining your relationships.

But while there's plenty of talk about how hard it can be to be married to an entrepreneur, according to some, there's surprisingly little discussion of the sometimes inevitable consequence of that reality -- divorce.

When self-reliance becomes a liability

"In the past few years I've become acutely aware of the plight of the divorced entrepreneur. This seldom-discussed topic almost seems taboo in business circles. So many become isolated in this precarious, solitary, often disastrous, post divorce quandary, which I believe deserves more attention within the entrepreneurial community," writes (divorced) executive coach Bill Douglas in a powerful recent guest post on the blog of VC Brad Feld (also divorced).

A frequent commentator on the topic, Douglas claims that he's heard from a great many divorced founders about their struggles. Many of their stories share common elements, he feels. "The positive qualities that spark the entrepreneurial fire can become a liability when self-reliance inhibits the ability to self assess and acknowledge the need for assistance. That positive and driven nature can isolate, leaving one shouldering the weight of the world," explains Douglas.

Or, in other words, entrepreneurs facing divorce do as they usually do and try to white knuckle their way through the challenge. They're reluctant to ask for help, afraid to share their situation with employees and investors, or even afflicted with anxiety and depression from keeping so much bottled up. Instead, we all need to talk about this more, helping people open up and get the help they need, Douglas contends.

Don't wing it. Discuss it.

"Winging here it is dangerous, not to mention painfully slow," writes Douglas, before urging even the most naturally stoic of entrepreneurs to get help if they're facing a divorce. Douglas runs a closed Facebook group for divorced entrepreneurs that could offer support, and he also provides a few tips for starting to get your life back in order in the post. Wherever you turn for help, just make sure you reach out to someone, insists Douglas.

Do you agree with Douglas that the silence around divorce and entrepreneurship is harmful?

Published on: Mar 7, 2016
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