I’m currently in the middle of a six-week road trip around the U.S. with my wife, and I’ve had the same question asked multiple times on this trip:
“How do you spend that much time with each other without killing one another?"
Simple: We’ve worked hard at creating an incredibly strong marriage that can withhold a lot more than six weeks in a Prius!
In a similar way, we’ve also worked hard at creating a marriage that can withstand, and benefit from, my obsession with entrepreneurship. The following are four tips that I’ve used to make sure my marriage stays solid while my business grows.
1. Get your priorities in order.
Businesses will come and go, and I’ll fail at some, succeed at others. But my wife is here for life, so my priority will always be her above all else.
Every decision I make in business must first pass the “could-this-hurt-my-marriage” test. If a choice could hurt our marriage, it’s instantly off the table. It’s just not worth it.
What does it profit a man or woman to gain the whole world if he or she has no one to share it with?
Value your spouse. Treasure him or her above all other riches, goals and achievements.
2. Schedule home time.
Entrepreneurship is rarely a nine-to-five task, but can take place at all times of the day. As such, it is increasingly important for you to schedule dedicated “home time” that cannot be interrupted by your entrepreneurial ventures. Then, stick to that schedule like your life depends on it.
You schedule phone calls with clients, meetings with your customers and lunch with colleagues -- so why not schedule time with the one person who matters more than all of those appointments combined?
For me, at 5 p.m., I’m done working. It’s as simple as that. I know some of you are thinking, “I can’t schedule home time because my business is too all-encompassing.”
You can, and you must. If your business doesn’t allow for scheduled times away from work, you are doing something wrong. Stop saying, “I can’t,” and start asking, “How can I?” For more on this incredibly important mindset shift, see Replace These Two Limiting Words From Your Vocabulary.
3. Make home time home time.
When you are at home, be at home physically and mentally.
Yes, I realize entrepreneurship is exciting and stressful, and it’s hard to “turn off” that part of your mind, but you must. This is an everyday battle for me, as my life revolves around the real estate investments I own and the real estate social network I help run.
Your spouse will know when you are not engaged in conversation because your mind is elsewhere, thinking about that next big purchase, that jerk customer or the competitor who is gaining traction in your market.
When you are working, work. When you are at home, be at home.
Turn off the cell-phone.
Don’t check your email. (Gasp!)
Have a real conversation during dinner that doesn’t involve a discussion about work.
If your marriage is valuable, give it the time it deserves and your marriage will bloom.
4. Involve your spouse.
Finally, I believe it’s important to involve my wife in my entrepreneurial ambitions as much as she chooses to be. By welcoming my wife’s input, several incredible things are accomplished.
First, she is able to see inside my world and come with me on the exciting journey that is entrepreneurship. We can share the ups and downs together, strengthening our marriage and helping us hang on through the difficult times.
Involving my wife also allows me to outsource certain tasks to her, so I can get more accomplished. For example, in our real estate investing business, my wife helps with the books and deals with a lot of the contractors who work on our rental properties. She also deals with the attorneys when we need to evict a tenant, which can be an incredibly complicated process, but so much easier with her help.
Finally, if your spouse is anything like mine, he or she probably has an incredibly different perspective on the problems you are trying to solve, and they might have the missing piece to your most important puzzle. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been stressed about a problem in my business, and in just a few seconds, she is able to make everything clearer.
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have a perfect marriage.
However, I’ve made a conscious decision to value my marriage above and through my entrepreneurship. Have you done the same?
What techniques do you use to make sure your marriage stays strong while your business grows? Share your comments with me and the rest of the Entrepreneur.com community below!