It’s hard enough for two people to keep the fire burning without having to worry about launching a new business. Add in long hours, tons of stress, financial burdens and other issues that come with being an entrepreneur and making a romantic relationship endure can be downright daunting.
I often say that people don’t just fall in love with another person, they fall in love with the way that person makes them feel. So here is some of my best advice to make you and your significant other feel great throughout your entrepreneurial process.
1. Communicate early and often.
Just like in any relationship, one of the keys to a couple surviving entrepreneurship is to have great communication. That means that both individuals set expectations up front and keep checking in regularly to make sure that things are proceeding OK.
Be as realistic as possible about how the new business may affect your schedule and finances -- even your mood. Furthermore, given those expectations, you should see if there’s anything to help your partner deal with those challenges.
You should also communicate about how your partner’s support of your business is important and how it benefits him or her.
Again, these conversations shouldn’t be one and done -- there should be check-ins and adjustments along the way. However, setting appropriate expectations up front should at least give you a good benchmark to work from.
2. Give your partner an “ownership” stake.
Now, while I don’t advocate giving your partner an actual equity stake in the business, he or she should feel as if they have a vested interest in its success. Whether that’s because it will provide for your financial future or because it makes you fulfilled -- which, in turn, will make you a better partner -- it should be clear that you view your successes as shared by a team.
3. Let them know you care.
When you are distracted with work, especially the kind of work required as an entrepreneur, it is easy for the time to fly without you thinking of anything else. However, you have to take a few moments on a regular basis to let your significant other know that he or she is on your mind.
Leave them a note to say that you appreciate and love them. My husband and I do this regularly, which takes just a few moments to do, but leaves a lasting impression.
Take time to send a cute text during the day or in the evening if you are working late. From time to time, bring home a thoughtful gift (something personalized to his or her taste). Little gestures, if authentic, will go a long way to making sure the other person doesn’t feel abandoned or like an afterthought, even when you aren’t physically there.
4. Stay present when you are present.
While you cannot concurrently make two things your number-one priority, you can switch your priorities depending on the time. That means when you do have time to be together -- at home, at dinner, etc. -- stay present.
This could mean turning off your work phone and email during meals or trying to steer the conversation away from work or to your significant other’s day. Being physically together won’t be quality time if you are mentally somewhere else.
5. Avoid bad situations.
Finally, keep yourself out of situations that can get you into trouble. If your fellow founders are staying out late to go binge drinking and hang out in a singles bar, perhaps excuse yourself for that particular outing.
Be mindful of with whom and how you are spending your time, even for work. If you don’t put yourself in potentially compromising positions, you are unlikely to end up in a compromising position that could wreak havoc on your relationship.