Females currently account for only 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs, but there are more now than ever before including Mary Barra of General Motors, Virgina Rometty of IBM and Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo. There are more female billionaires. There are more female entrepreneurs.
I assume some husbands are terrified of their wives becoming entrepreneurs because their wives will become more occupied with business stuff: meetings, budgets, taxes, phone calls, emails and so forth. But this is a perfect opportunity to take your relationship to new heights.
Here are a few tips to ensure your marriage stays healthy during this transition.
Listen keenly to every word she says
She will talk about her passion. She will talk about her goals. She will talk about her expectations. And she will most likely complain to you about the downsides of work and brag to you about the upsides. Do not dismiss her complaining, and do not be insulted by her bragging. Invite her to complain and brag. Your focus should be to collaborate in resolving issues and encouraging success. When spouses listen to each other, they push one another further by encouraging each to excel in his or her gifts and talents.
All the employees she will hire and business partnerships she will undertake will require adequate time to learn her character. But you know her better than anyone. You know her tendencies, her weaknesses and, of course, her strengths. Remind her of her strengths. Re-prove to her that you will be there to offset her weaknesses.
Let your voice be heard early
Speak words of encouragement, but do not be shy to voice your concerns. Any risk she is taking will inevitably wind its way back into the family. Let your voice be heard early to eliminate possible risks that can be detrimental to your marriage and family.
Learn the new language she is speaking
Content marketing, top-line versus bottom-line, bounce rates and net present value are just a few of the things that might slip out of her mouth at dinner. If you learn to speak the business language, then you will have more to talk about. If you don’t learn it, then you will not have much to contribute and probably feel marginalized.
If you don’t have time to learn it from another source, then learn it from her. When she mentions something you are not familiar with, ask her to explain it. Showing you are interested in how she communicates, demonstrates you are interested in her.
Be her most important employee (MIE)
Great employees are those who look for gaps and find ways to fill them. Either they acquire new skills to do so or they seek support in filling those needs. Be the first employee she hires, and be the employee she never has to fire.
Suppose she has a big decision to make today. She slept fitfully last night. You know because she kept you up all night. She is about to start her day on the wrong foot. However, a typical MIE would go above and beyond to ensure her day flows smoothly. You, being her husband, possess knowledge about her you can put to use right away. Do your best to provide what she needs for such a moment. This sets up the possibility of celebrating a victory at day’s end. And even if the outcome is unfavourable, celebrate anyway because you approached it as a team-one went on the field, the other brought the water and the sunscreen.
Remember it is a partnership, not a competition
Partners collaborate by putting their individual needs on the table and then work together to ensure the highest level of mutual benefit. When you were in the process of preparing to get married, some of your needs were probably addressed. Now that your wife has another dimension of needs, you will naturally generate a new set of needs. Talk about both of your needs.
It is not you running the family against her running her business. It is both of you raising a family along with growing a business. Your collaboration will give you a better chance of succeeding in both areas. If you are competing, then there can only be one winner and one loser, which will lead to you both losing in the end.
Know her schedule so you can properly plan your time together
You still need to plan date nights and time together. Since you are the most important employee, you will need to know what her day-to-day entails. Since you are her most trusted employee, she will need to know your schedule as well.
The calendar over the fridge might not have enough room, so an electronic calendar might be more suitable. Gmail and Outlook allow account holders to share calendars. You can include details such as time, place, duration and attendees. This is one way to insure you do not surprise or disappoint each other when your son has a recital or your daughter has a volleyball game.
Don’t stop sending her flowers
She still wants to know you think she is the most beautiful person in the world. Whatever you did to make her smile before, do that more. Be the most attractive person to her. Take her advice on what to wear. Ask her where she wants to vacation. Keep sending her flowers.
When my wife became an entrepreneur, I fell deeper in love with her, and I became an entrepreneur as well. She took my advice to pursue her passion. I took her advice to pursue my passion. We became young again-energetic and fearless. And even with 4 children, we bring out the best of each other.