Q: I started my homebased graphic design business last year so I could be home with my two young children when they get home from school. Because I spend half the day with them, I often must finish business projects in the evenings. As my business has taken off, my husband has complained that I don't have enough time for him. How can I balance time with my kids, clients and husband and keep everyone happy?
A: Let's focus on the primary problem-your dismayed husband. Your business is going well, and you spend half the day with your kids. So the problem isn't really "How do I balance everything?" because it seems as if you're doing a great job of that already. The real crisis we need to solve is how to bring your husband around to being your cheerleader.
Your husband may be complaining that you don't have enough time for him, but most husbands don't clamor for lots of time with their wives. He's probably missing something specific. Is the house starting to look like a tornado swept through it? Are you too tired for sex? Are dinners too often the prepared frozen sort? When your husband arrives home from work, do you greet him with a hug and help him feel welcomed at home? Are you so concerned with the work that hasn't gotten done yet, you hand the kids over, point to his dinner on the table and scramble back up to your office?
Set aside a kid-free evening to spend with your husband. Don't approach him with a defensive or angry posture like: "How dare you complain about my work when you have a successful career. Don't I get a chance too?!" or "Stop being such a baby. If you don't like the fact that the laundry hasn't been done, do it yourself!" Instead, tell him that you miss him, too. Ask him to be very clear about what he doesn't like about you being unavailable to him.
Maybe he misses being with you because when you're together, you're mentally absent and distracted by work. He may feel overwhelmed because he knows he's supposed to pick up the slack at home with kids and housework, and he doesn't have a clue how to do it. Perhaps your burgeoning success is threatening to him. He might be reluctant to give up his sole provider role if it makes him feel wanted and needed as a husband and father. And did I mention sex? He may blame your business if he's not connecting with you enough in the bedroom.
Create a joint vision of how your business success will bring
rewards to your family and to your husband in particular. What can
he look forward to as a result of your success? A family vacation?
A new car? A happier wife? Help him see what's in it for him,
not just what he's losing by your absence.
Azriela Jaffe is the author of Honey, I Want To Start My Own Business: A Planning Guide For Couples (HarperBusiness).
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.