"Usually people who start businesses have high energy, are smart and are used to being able to accomplish a lot," explains Kathy Marshack, a psychological consultant and author of Entrepreneurial Couples: Making it Work at Work and at Home (Davies-Black, $26.95, 800-624-1765). "The biggest pitfall is thinking you can cram one more thing [whether it's a business or a relationship] into your life and it will all work out. People need to be aware ahead of time that when you start a business, there's going to be a drain on your partner, and it's going to affect the relationship."
Marshack suggests couples set priorities and make time together part of their daily plan. Communication is key, she says, and don't worry about boring your partner by chatting about business minutiae. "Most people err on the other side--not filling in [partners] on what's happening with the business," Marshack says. "Entrepreneurs tend to be single-minded people with confidence in their own abilities to get things done, but on the other side is a supportive partner who needs to realize they're still loved. They can feel left out. It's a delicate balance between being single-minded and being aware of other things in life."
For the steeliest of her Type-A clients, Marshack suggests a visual clue to help: "I sometimes have people post pictures of time bombs on their computers. That way, if your partner wants to spend time with you, you look at the picture and think `Is what I'm doing really a matter of life and death, or can it wait?' You've got to get your priorities straight."