Marriage & Business: Hiking the High Wire over Niagara Falls

Tony got married seven years ago--in the midst of building his precision- tool company; and started off by making three mistakes.  Here they are: One, after a romantic wedding in Greece, he whisked his bride off to a honeymoon at a machine-tool trade show in Germany.

Two:  During the early years of his marriage he plowed every penny of profits back into his business-putting all of the financial burden on his wife; who was also trying to raise their first child.   and …

Three: … this one's the real biggie. "I underestimated how much time the business was going to take away from my family," Tony says. "I was literally never home.  Our marriage almost didn't survive.  I got to the point where I had to say to her, 'I'll do anything.  Just please don't leave.' "

It goes without saying that building a successful business and a happy marriage at the same time is not easy … in fact some say it is the impossible dream.  Henry Landes, founder of the Delaware Valley Family Business Center says:  "It's like walking the high wire over Niagara Falls.  It takes a lot of skill, and you can fall off easily.,"

A marriage in which the business is the biggest baby, counselor Landes says, "has to be a stronger marriage than most.  It needs better communication skills, better conflict-resolution skills, better specific planning skills, and a lot more resilience."

The good news is that despite the many pitfalls, plenty of entrepreneurial couples are meeting that challenge.  In fact research suggests that the shared struggle of creating a company together can make a good marriage even better.

Data shows that there's no evidence that the divorce rate among business owners is any higher than average.  According to a recent survey by the investment advisory firm Neuberger Berman, 42% of CEOs of fast-growing startups say that running their own companies has had a positive effect on their relationships with spouses.  That is significantly higher than the 32% who said business ownership had caused trouble on the home front.

So let’s take some time to ask some important questions:

What were some of the mistakes you made in building your business that had a negative impact on your marriage?  How did you correct them, or are you still making them?

How have you transferred the attitudes and skills that make you successful in business into your home life?

And just for fun … using our Convene vernacular … what are the Key Performance Indicators that you have set for your marriage?  How will you measure them?  Who’s holding you accountable to do so?

Our aspiration is to take our companies from good to great … let’s set that same goal for our marriage and home lives.

Matthew 16:26:  What does it profit a man to gain the whole world … if he loses his soul?