Stephen Jaffe remembers exactly when it happened.
In 1993, the newly married accountant quit his job to run an expense-reduction business from his Framingham, Massachusetts, home. While he was building the business, his wife, Azriela, worked to support the family. One year later, things weren't working out exactly as planned.
"We were driving to a Lamaze class, and [my wife] asked me about a client I had recently visited," says Stephen. "She wanted to know when to expect payment. I said there are lots of signs I'm not going to get paid, and it's probably going to be a write-off.
"She hit the roof. She thought I should pursue it and put a lot of energy into collecting from this little business. I thought my time could be used more productively."
When the business missed its two-month and then six-month sales projections, Stephen felt Azriela's attitude change from supportive to doubtful.
"She had a way of asking a question that carried certain implications and insinuations," Stephen recalls. "She might say `How was your day?' but it really translated into `How many sales calls did you make?' '
Azriela agrees, and attributes the reaction in part to the couple's newlywed status. "We didn't have that basis of trust [yet], and I was scared about the income situation," she says. "The longer and harder it was to get the business off the ground, the more unsolicited advice I gave. I was trying to help, but it made him feel like he was under a microscope and that I was evaluating him . . . and I was."
A big issue concerning Azriela was how Stephen spent his time. She felt anxious when he was out gardening or relaxing rather than working, and yet she felt hurt that he spent so much time working. "He couldn't win either way," she admits. Eventually, the couple decided that moving Stephen to an outside office was the best solution.
Then, in 1995, the couple decided to relocate to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to enjoy a more affordable cost of living. During this transition, Stephen decided to give up his business and return to work as an accounting manager, and Azriela picked up the entrepreneurial reins. She wrote Honey, I Want to Start My Own Business: A Planning Guide for Couples (HarperBusiness), a book about their experiences. She also started writing The Entrepreneurial Couples Success Letter, a free online newsletter for small-business owners and entrepreneurial couples.