Photo by New Adventure Productions.
If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you’re a driven individual who loves what you do! And, if you could, you’d spend every minute of every day working on your business, because that’s how passionate you are about it.
But, can I speculate for a sec? If I were a betting kind of gal, I’d bet that your spouse isn’t always on board with your business aspirations (especially if he/she isn’t an entrepreneur), and—in one way or another—your business has taken a toll on your marriage.
You see, for three years, my photography business was a constant pain point in my relationship with my husband, Zach.
While there was nothing I wanted to do more than serve my clients, work on marketing, improve as a photographer, and eventually make my side hustle my full-time job, Zach was gradually becoming more bitter toward my business and toward me.
At the time, I thought, “How dare he not be supportive! I’m working hard to achieve my goals, and he’s being selfish!”
But, after a lot of prayer and counseling, I now realize that I was in the wrong and that Zach’s bitterness was justified.
Today, with a few changes, Zach is my biggest supporter and even assists at shoots from time to time!
I’m so thankful for the season of life we’re in right now, but because I know how difficult it can be to not have your spouse’s support as an entrepreneur, I want to break down five ways you can:
Looking back to when I started my photography business as a side hustle, one of the biggest mistakes I made was not explaining my ultimate goals to Zach.
Side note: To be fair, this was largely due to the fact that I didn’t have any set goals. I simply knew that I loved photography and that it felt good to do something creative that also made money.
Anyway, when Zach and I were dating and even when we got married, I had no intention of becoming a full-time photographer. My plan was to work in marketing, and every internship and job during and after college suggested that I’d found my career path and even my dream job.
When I picked up photography as a side hustle, Zach didn’t think much of it. But, because I hadn’t expressed any specific goals, Zach quickly became frustrated when I started working 70 to 80 hours a week (40 or so at my day job and the rest either shooting or editing) and missing out on time with him, family, and friends.
Long story short, Zach didn’t understand why I was working as much as I was, and your spouse might not either.
Whether you want to make your side hustle your full-time job by [insert date here], hit $X in revenue this year, be able to afford to add an employee next year, or whatever else, your spouse will likely be more understanding and supportive if you share your specific goals and how you plan to get there.
When I finally told Zach that I wanted to be a full-time wedding photographer, his first question was, “Can you match your current salary?”
This was more than a fair question!
Like I said before, when we got married, neither one of us thought we’d ever be self employed. Our plan was to work for other people and receive regular Friday paychecks.
I threw a wrench in this plan, and because of this, I owed it to Zach to make sure that my career change wasn’t going to affect our lifestyle. (If you and your spouse are okay with making lifestyle changes for your business, that’s great! Zach and I simply weren’t there at the time.)
Fortunately, as an avid Dave Ramsey follower, I had concrete numbers to share with Zach. To put him at even more ease, I took the numbers to our financial advisor, Jeff Gasaway at BlueSafe Financial, to make sure my estimates were correct. (You can learn more about these numbers here!)
Seeing that it was financially possible for me to make the leap and become a full-time entrepreneur didn’t resolve all of Zach’s fears, but being able to see the math certainly made it easier for him to support my dream.
If your spouse isn’t your business’s biggest fan right now, there’s a good chance that he/she either doesn’t understand or is uneasy about where your business stands financially.
Let your husband/wife know that your books are open to him/her, that you’re willing to answer questions, and that you know that your business’s finances affect your spouse.
Your spouse will likely be more supportive when he/she feels like your business is financially stable and isn’t a threat to your current lifestyle, especially if your family depends on both of your incomes.
“If your job is stressing you out so much, why are you doing it?”
Zach has said these words to me more times than I can count!
Before we go any further, I want to make one thing clear. It’s ABSOLUTELY okay to confide in your spouse about your business. After all, you likely married your husband/wife because you value your spouse’s thoughts and opinions.
However, if your spouse is already apprehensive about your business and you’re constantly complaining about your stress level, to-do list, or whatever other aspect of your business is weighing on you, your spouse will start to see your business as the common denominator in your unhappiness.
So, when you talk to your spouse about your business, talk about the hard things, but also remember to be positive. Tell him/her about the things you’re excited about, the ways your business is benefiting your family (Zach is all for any chance we get to travel for shoots!), and how thankful you are for the opportunity to be an entrepreneur.
Side note: This is also why having relationships within your industry is important! While Zach might not always understand what’s going on in my business, my photographer friends absolutely do! They’re more than happy to listen, weigh in, and give advice, and I’m always thrilled to return the favor!
When I started my own business, I think part of what really drove Zach nuts was that my business controlled me; I didn’t control my business.
I’d bend over backwards to fit photo sessions in on my clients’ schedules, shoot more than I could feasibly edit in my guaranteed turnaround time, and make my schedule so full that sleep—let alone doing anything other than working—became a rare commodity.
Basically, because of my people-pleasing tendencies, I wasn’t setting boundaries within my business. And, this was making my schedule chaotic and leaving me little to no time to spend time with or care for my husband.
Everyone’s boundaries look different, but today, Zach is much more supportive of my business because the following boundaries are in place:
If you haven’t, sit down with your spouse and work together to come up with boundaries for your business that will serve you both. This will make your spouse feel listened to and included.
And, last but not least, if you want to help your spouse support your entrepreneurial dream, you need to show your husband/wife that he/she is more important to you than your work.
I 100% love my husband more than I love my job; however, when I looked back to the early days of my business, I can understand why he felt like my work came first and he came second.
I mean, during that period of our lives, I was working 9-5, spending my evenings and weekends at photo sessions or weddings, and editing during every spare moment I could.
In the meantime, Zach didn’t see me much, and when he did, I was behind my laptop. On top of that, I wasn’t taking care of things at home like I should’ve been. (Zach’s love language is acts of service, so me neglecting chores was making him feel even less valued.)
Zach had every reason to believe that I cared about my business more than him, and there’s a good chance that your spouse does too.
Ensuring your spouse feels like he/she comes first might look different for you, but here’s what’s helped us:
Like I said before, in the midst of this trying period in our relationship, I honestly thought that I was working hard and Zach was being selfish.
But, looking back now, I realize that I wasn’t loving or caring for my husband how I should’ve been.
If you’re an entrepreneur who feels like you don’t have your spouse’s support, there’s a very good chance that YOU are the one at fault.
You can absolutely have a thriving business AND an exceptional marriage, but YOU are likely the one who needs to make changes for this to be possible.
So, friend, in short, if you want your spouse to support your entrepreneurial dream, you need to better prioritize your spouse!
Here’s to marriage and entrepreneur life, because both are beautiful and messy!