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  • Risky Business? When Partners Become Partners

    Considering how much time most of us spend at work, it’s no surprise that we frequently gravitate romantically toward someone with whom we share career interests. And, at some point along the way, that shared interest may quite naturally evolve into a desire to start or run a business together.

    Most couples enjoy spending time with each other. It can be very satisfying to experience new things together, take trips, talk about life, and discuss dreams for the future. And working together to build a business can give you countless opportunities to celebrate each other’s wins and offer support through shared challenges. Sounds like a great recipe to strengthen a relationship, right?

    Not necessarily. That’s because running a business together comes with its own share of difficulties. Couples therapy can help, but first, here are a few of the challenges that partners who are business partners are often faced with.

    Stressful Startups

    Starting a new business is often extremely stressful no matter who you do it with. It can be particularly overwhelming if it’s your first experience. You may have to put in a lot of time outside of normal 9-to-5 work hours. And depending on the particular business you’re in, evening and weekend hours may become a regular part of your life together.

    While it may be extremely helpful to have your partner by your side, it can also cause problems within the relationship. It can be tough to juggle client deadlines, meetings, ongoing projects, and bill payments each month. With so many more decisions to manage together, there are more sources of potential conflict. The bottom line: starting a business together will likely increase the amount of stress in your life. And that’s important to recognize and plan for.

    What About Me?

    Many couples wish they could spend more time together — a date night out to a nice restaurant, or maybe just a lazy Saturday to lay in bed and watch movies! Running a shared business can quickly solve this problem, but it can also create an additional one in the process — that is, not having enough “me” time. This could mean less time alone to pursue a hobby or health goals, but it could also mean sacrificing time with friends. It’s important to maintain an individual identity — and that requires some amount of time apart. 

    Fuzzy Work/Home Boundaries

    When you work with your spouse, personal time can quickly turn into work time as that romantic dinner you planned is suddenly consumed with business discussions. You may find that, unless you’re careful, more time together actually translates to a decrease in quality time as a couple. When you both have responsibilities as business owners, even planning a vacation together can become more challenging. Learning when to “close shop” and focus on each other is incredibly important for the long-term health of your relationship.

    Money Problems

    Having your own business brings with it its own set of financial pressures. Your business income may be less consistent than the paychecks you earned as an employee. And those cash flow inconsistencies can be a significant source of stress within your relationship. Also, a lot of businesses take years to turn a profit and many have to risk diving into savings or taking on some form of debt, especially in the beginning. Your own company probably won’t come with health insurance coverage or an employee-sponsored 401k plan. These are things you’ll have to figure out and fund on your own, which can cause additional financial stress. And what if you’re down with the flu? A health problem can quickly become both a business and a financial problem with no paid sick days.

    Childcare Responsibilities

    If you have children, owning your own business brings its own set of unique challenges. Without paid sick days, who will bring little Johnny or Janey to the pediatrician? And what about the fun stuff? What if there’s a field trip you both want to attend? The difficulty of managing childcare responsibilities is often magnified when a couple shares a business.

    How Couples Therapy Can Help

    Setting aside dedicated time to focus on your relationship in a therapeutic setting can be particularly important for couples in business together, allowing partners to focus on their relationship outside their work environment, which tends to prohibit more open discussion. In therapy, you can gain greater empathic awareness of uncomfortable feelings brought on by your work roles. And it creates an opportunity to support each other outside of work and the other family roles you occupy. It’s also a place where you can deal with any relationship, parental, financial and familial fallout from work stressors.

    Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) helps couples improve their communication, create a more secure attachment and repair their emotional bond. According to the American Psychology Association, EFT, a short-term form of couples therapy, is about 75% effective at helping couples. I’ll meet with you together and help you explore patterns in your interactions and relationship that might be causing problems. And together we’ll take steps to rebuild trust and move your relationship in a healthier and more positive direction. Feel free to call my office at 407-579-2070 for a complimentary consultation to see if couples therapy is right for you.

     

    References:

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-it-together/201712/couples-therapy-does-it-really-work