Support Your Non-Entrepreneurial Spouse

I’ve talked a lot about how I support Curtis in his business ventures, but I think it’s important to talk about how he supports me and the things that I want to pursue.

Please know that I’m not expert in marriage, but we’ve got 10 years of experience, one beautiful daughter and a second child on the way. I will tell you that we’ve had our own share of struggles and there have been times when we haven’t been completely enamored with each other, but they’ve been short. For the most part our married life has been a happy one and I am happier and more in love today than I was 10 years ago when we said “I do”.

It’s easy when one spouse is a real go-getter and the other plays more of a supporting role (especially if that role is as a stay-at-home parent) for the more entrepreneurial spouse and their interests to take center stage ALL THE TIME. Not because they are selfish or thoughtless, but because they spend their days going out and killing it and are used to being in the spotlight. Outside of work they naturally stay there, and the interests and needs of the supporting spouse are set aside for “later” or sometimes simply forgotten.

At our house we both happen to be go-getter’s and we’ve made that work well for us. I don’t sit well in the background, and I force my way into his business in many ways because I want to be involved. I have specific goals that I want to accomplish that don’t involve him or his business but do require his support. That said it’s still easy for me to drop my interests for him to accomplish his goals and sometimes that costs me significantly.

Part of the truth of being married is putting the needs of your spouse ahead of your own. This kind of give and take is essential in any marriage. Curtis is awesome at this. As we have worked at growing his business he has been equally concerned that I also get to pursue the things in life that I enjoy. He’s been very supportive of my interests. He can read when I am stressed, and he encourages me to get out on my own whenever possible.

His recognition of my goals is essential to our relationship. It helps us to maintain balance, just like setting boundaries around when his work day starts, breaks, and ends. He has encouraged me to pursue my interests to the degree at which we are able to support them financially. He’s made it possible for me to run in the early mornings, be home to raise our kids, and pursue other interests as they arise.

This journey we’re on requires sacrifice and selflessness. So while I have sacrificed things that I want to help him accomplish his goals, he has also had to make sacrifices to keep his wife happy :). The example that comes to mind most recently is WordCamp Edmonton. He really wanted to go, but I was less eager to have him away for the weekend and so when it really came down to it after much earnest conversation he chose to stay home.

The issue with his trip to Edmonton was literally support for me. We have no family around locally, and while we have tons of awesome friends that are like family, him going away for a few days leaves me home alone with a pre-schooler. Sometimes I can fill time with visits with friends, trips to the park and other engaging activities, sometimes I can’t and I spend the entire time one on one with our daughter. I LOVE her and am not complaining but adult company is nice from time to time.

Truthfully the timing of his request also had something to do with my squelching the idea. He asked the evening of his return from a 3 day trip away. It had been a long three days for me as I have found myself to be less than patient throughout the duration of this pregnancy, and though we haven’t had any major complications it has brought new challenges with every trimester. The thought of having him away for any extended period of time in November caused major apprehension/stress for me. We looked at having me go along with E, but it really wasn’t feasible and so I asked him to pass on the opportunity. Was he bummed? Yes, but was he supporting his wife? YES, and I have been more than happy to have him here close by instead of far far away.

I think it’s vital when one spouse is running their own business that they not forget that the un-involved spouse still has interests that they need the time to pursue. That means encouraging them to pursue them and setting up your workday boundaries to allow for those activities to be part of their life. My early morning run is essential for me. It’s how I deal with stress. I process life, pray, listen to podcasts, and prepare for my day while I run. I am a much better, partner, friend, wife, and mother for the time I spend running in the mornings (and I have desperately missed that time during this pregnancy) Curtis is able to recognize that and sometimes encourages me to go to bed early enough to get up for my run, or pushes me out of bed in the morning to make sure I get it in.

Ultimately his business, and our marriage are better because he recognizes that I have interests outside of his business and he encourages and enables me to pursue them so that I am not lost in his shadow. Recognizing the importance of the role of your supporting spouse is essential for your business to succeed whether they are involved in the daily running of your business or not. It’s very likely that without them you wouldn’t have gotten your business off the ground so throw them a bone and help them also pursue their own interests whatever they may be. You will both prosper because of it!

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