What happens when running a business gets in the way of your romantic relationship, or vice versa? In this weekly column, relationship expert Marla N. Mattenson responds to entrepreneurs with love dilemmas — because the hidden power of successful businesses are the stable, loving relationships behind the scenes.
My boyfriend and I have been dating for nine months, and everything is going really well so far. But, I’m also an entrepreneur with a demanding business, and I can tell that it’s starting to take a toll on my relationship. The truth is, I love my business! And I love the success that I’ve created. I’m afraid that if I start investing more in my relationship, my business will suffer. How can I balance the two so that both continue to thrive?
Pulled in Two Directions
Dear Pulled in Two Directions,
I can tell that you are both passionate for your business and deeply care about your partner, and I want you to know that success in both is 100 percent possible. While it’s common to think otherwise, studies have actually shown that partners in a thriving relationship actually live longer and make more money in their businesses. Good news!
Adopting a growth mindset will provide the foundation you need for success in both. In relationship, a growth mindset is the belief that you have full control over creating a positive, lasting relationship through conscious effort.
Couples who practice living from this place expect change to occur and the result of change to ultimately impact their relationship in a positive way, with growth. This mindset is both an empowering reminder of the role you play in the relationship and demonstrates to your partner a willingness to be honest and vulnerable. In turn, this encourages your partner to be open and authentic as well, thus creating a healthy foundation for growth.
I also recommend that you take an objective approach to the challenges in your relationship just as you would your business. Sit down for a creative, playful brainstorm with your partner to review two key questions:
- What went well in our last challenge? (This is an opportunity to highlight specifics that you and your partner did well during a challenge.)
- What could we do differently, as a couple, to set ourselves up for success next time?
The goal here is to create a conflict-response plan that leaves you feeling more connected as a couple, not less, and infusing creativity and playfulness into your approach will support that. Make sure each of you has ample time to share with each question.
The next step is to celebrate together. Celebrate that you are having these tough conversations in the first place. Celebrate your big wins. Celebrate your unknowns. Just practice celebrating. Studies show that when you celebrate or express gratitude, it motivates both partners to continue positively investing in the relationship. It also helps to neutralize fear around conflict. As you embrace and work through each challenge, as a couple, you come to trust the potential that it carries. That is, the potential to bring you closer and deeper into connection.
Choosing to celebrate in your business in this way is also a win-win for all involved. Take this idea and bring it to all interactions with colleagues, clients and employees, and you will experience a shift in the culture at work over time. Genuine, specific celebration is essential, as cheerleading and saying, “Good job!” will not get the results of cohesiveness, team building and increased happiness. Instead, choose something tangible to celebrate: “I really appreciate the email you sent before the meeting today, it helped me organize my thoughts so I was more prepared.” Practicing bringing your best, most gracious self to work will help you bring that energy to your relationship as well.
In the end, seeing your partner as an asset to your business journey instead of a liability will help him or her to be supportive of it, especially when you are feeling that pressure to show up as the perfect partner and perfect business owner at the same time. The road to success in our personal and professional lives is rocky, so bring your growth mindset, your ability to reflect and plan for a better future, with a strong practice of celebration and you might be surprised to find that the hidden power of successful business actually lies in the stable, loving relationship behind it.