By Malini Bhatia, founder and CEO of Marriage.com.
There was a time, long ago, when I used to think of marriage as some sort of a perfect fairytale ending -- a time when I used to believe marriage would be a partnership for life, spent with someone with shared priorities and values, who would support every dream, goal and ambition of mine.
And then I got married, and it was time for a reality check.
Just like marriages, businesses that are built on partnerships tend to have a better chance of success than those that aren’t, provided they are both well-managed. This may come as a bit of surprise to folks who seem to believe in drawing a line when it comes to their personal relationships versus the professional ones. However, as an entrepreneur married for over a decade, I feel similar ideologies can be applied to both marriage and business relationships to nurture and strengthen them.
Successful Partnerships Revolve Around Proper Communication
Marriages can fail, and they often do. So do partnerships. And more often than not communication, or lack thereof, is to blame. The root cause of most problems in any relationship, whether professional or personal, can be put down to misunderstandings that result from lack of communication.
Communication plays a critical role in effective negotiations to ensure you achieve your goals, either personal or professional. Effective communication is the key to fostering a good working relationship between your business partner and yourself, which goes a long way in nurturing efficiency and boosting morale.
The same can be said of a good marriage. A marital partnership thrives on the uninhibited exchange of emotion, desires and beliefs. Most marriages will go through rough patches at some point that alters the way couples communicate with each other. To get around tough situations, it’s important that couples make communication an intentional practice. And even though not everyone is blessed with the art of effective communication naturally, couples can develop a uniquely shared language if they make a sincere effort. Try experimenting with different approaches -- sometimes that alone can be fun and productive.
It’s All About Compassion
Compassion helps forge strong bonds between business partners. Letting your partner know that you will be with them every step of the way, no matter what, can go a long way in the success of any business venture. Compassion also builds trust. Being compassionate requires trying to understand things from the other person’s point of view before reacting. This ensures that your partner inherently believes in you and trusts you. They will feel safe in discussing issues with you, assured that you won't jump to conclusions.
In a similar vein, compassion towards your better half allows them to feel more respected, appreciated and cared for. Having compassion means that you sympathize with your partner and would go the distance in helping them in their hour of need.
Both marital and business relationships can be marred by financial constraints. For every Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin (Co-Founders, theSkimm) type of success to emerge from the Silicon Valley, there have been countless partnerships that failed to take off.
Financial problems and equity are among the most common challenges that have led to soured business partnerships. Not all partnership matches are made in heaven. There are occasions when one of the partners has been willing to invest all the money, needing only strategy or tech support to get a business off the ground. How then, is equity divided? What is the valuation criteria for both the partners? Are both the parties absolutely convinced of the guidelines?
Money is the life-source of any business. But in a partnership, it often turns out to be the source of disagreement unless there is a transparent, agreed-upon financial plan for money management.
Thoughtlessly spending money tends to be the No. 1 financial cause of couple separation. In his paper titled "Bank On It: Thrifty Couples Are the Happiest," Jeffrey Dew says that the likelihood of divorce goes up by 45 percent in situations where a spouse feels that their money is being spent foolishly by the other.
Despite the ups and downs, both marriage and a successful business partnership start with one common goal: to build something that will last for generations. Professional partnerships that are built to last have mutually inclusive priorities and shared values. Marriages that hold steadfast are built on the same foundation.
Malini Bhatia is Founder & CEO of Marriage.com, a community of trusted experts that provide information and support on all things marriage.