We've all heard inspiring stories of one spouse heroically supporting the other through the startup phase of a business. But what about when both spouses are involved in startups? You might be surprised to learn that the challenge of having two entrepreneurs in one household can actually strengthen your marriage -- if you know how to handle it.
It takes hard work to make a marriage succeed. Starting a business is no breeze, either. Juggling both requires dedication, flexibility and attentiveness. Keep these five guidelines in mind as you and your spouse both embark on the startup journey:
1. Rethink the concept of time management.
When you're working at a startup, your to-do list never ends, and you never have enough hours in the day to get it all done.
At the earliest stage of a business you always can have something to do, and it's even easier to neglect the person we care for the most, hoping that your partner understands -- until the day he or she doesn't.
Rather than focus on the idea of managing time, focus on managing yourself and your priorities. This subtle yet powerful shift in thinking can improve both your business and your marriage.
2. Adjust your strategy to fit new circumstances.
If entrepreneurs excel at one thing, it's quickly shifting strategy in order to survive. Surviving the pressure of a dual startup marriage is really no different.
When you're both entrepreneurs, there's no time for the lingering, romantic dinners of the past. My wife and I had to think of new ways to spend quality time together. Because exercise is important to both of us, we decided to start working out together, and it has been a blast. Exercise is a crucial stress release, and knowing that it's our time together keeps us vigilant not to skip sessions.
3. Stop gabbing about work 24/7.
Speaking of exercise: You know how an athlete needs to give his muscles a break when training? Entrepreneurs need to do the same thing -- and stop talking about work all the time. Choose when and where your work-free zone is, and stick to it.
You and your spouse will have to train yourselves to stop talking about work during the assigned time. Enforcing the rule won't be easy, but it's very important to try.
Take time to connect with your spouse over the things that initially brought you together and the interests you have beyond work. Plus, taking a break and allowing your "work" muscle to rest often results in a-ha moments when you return to the grind.
Lastly, you might not want to admit it, but many couples get competitive about their startups. Avoiding shop talk ensures you won't go down this treacherous road -- at least temporarily.
4. Remember the little things.
In addition to finding new ways to spend time together, think of other ways to stay connected given your hectic schedules. Think about what really speaks to your spouse -- maybe it's something physical like a quick neck massage in the morning or a handwritten note tucked in her briefcase. If you know what sort of communication is most important to your spouse, then you can convey your love and support in time-efficient yet meaningful ways.
5. Look for the silver lining.
You may not have fancied yourself an optimist before becoming an entrepreneur, but looking for those silver linings is an absolute necessity when running a startup. In those (many) moments of chaos, stress and exhaustion, we often develop strengths we didn't know we -- or our spouses -- had.
Though you and your spouse may be involved in completely different types of businesses, don't lose sight of the fact that you are on a larger journey together: that of an entrepreneur. The maddening pace of a startup might be exactly what prompts you to dig deeper and connect further with your loved one than you ever thought possible, which is a beautiful irony -- and the biggest silver lining of all.