5 Things to Consider for Entrepreneurs, and Their Spouses, to Have a Healthy Marriage Spending your life with someone who is as just as passionate, or more so, about their business can be a challenge.

By Stephen Key

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


I can remember the first time I met my wife Janice like it was yesterday. It was the late '80s, and we were working at Worlds of Wonder, a startup toy company. When our departments got together to discuss the launch of a new product -- Lazer Tag -- I was taken aback by her presence. Who was this woman in a red dress commanding the room so skillfully? I, on the other hand, sat as far back as I could, fearing I'd be called on. It was my first real job, and I was in way over my head.

It didn't take long for me to realize she was the one. Janice was -- and is -- smart, beautiful and incredibly talented. When we got together, I'm sure our colleagues were stunned. Janice had graduated from Stanford and earned her MBA from Northwestern. When she was young, her parents were strict, her future plotted out. I was raised with complete freedom and had dropped out of San Jose State three units short of a degree. She was accustomed to the dependability of a paycheck. As a self-employed entrepreneur, I had only ever been paid in cash.

Related: Great Entrepreneur, Lousy Lover?

I'm happy to report that we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary last year. It hasn't been easy, let me tell you that much. I have made mistake after mistake. But we found a way to make it work.

Before you leap into a marriage with an entrepreneur, here are a few things to consider. Perhaps you'll be better prepared for the challenges that lie ahead than we were.

1. Your dedication is a double-edged sword.

At first, your partner will be impressed and amazed. "Wow," he or she will think, "The love of my life is so passionate!" But sooner or later he or she will discover that your drive cuts into the time you spend together. You shouldn't have to compete for attention, but that's the reality of the situation. Please, do your partner a favor, and respect how precious your time with your family is. You need them as much as you need your business to succeed. Try your best to strike a balance.

2. Your emotions will get the best of you.

At times, I've felt so strongly about something that I've become irrational. The stress of trying to make it can become overwhelming. You may feel like it's you against the world. But it's not really like that. Your family is on your team. Don't freak out at them.

Related: When Married to an Entrepreneur Negotiation Is Healthier Than Compromising

3. Sometimes, your spouse will know what you need more than you do.

I would work 24 hours a day if I could! OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. Janice does her best to make sure that doesn't happen. She helps me break up my routine by scheduling time off, because she knows I need to recharge my batteries. I forget that I do some of my best work when I'm not working and my head is clear.

4. Accounting for lean times is essential.

Financial planning is frequently a source of tension for couples even when both partners have a steady paycheck. Work together to create a safety net to alleviate some anxiety.

5. Maintaining other interests will help keep you both sane.

Believe it or not, the world doesn't revolve around you. Knowing that hasn't been able to prevent me from acting like it does sometimes though. Your business might be exciting to you, but talking about it nonstop will get old for others. So make sure to find and hold on to other things you and your partner enjoy doing together.

Looking back, my wife took a big risk, as big of a risk as any entrepreneur can take, when she decided to marry me -- and for that I couldn't be more thankful!

Related: 5 Ways Busy Entrepreneurs Can Keep the Passion Alive in Their Relationships

Stephen Key

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Co-Founder of inventRight; Author of One Simple Idea Series

Stephen Key is an inventor, IP strategist, author, speaker and co-founder of inventRight, LLC, a Glenbrook, Nevada-based company that helps inventors design, patent and license their ideas for new products.

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