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When I decided to start my photography business, I had no idea how much it would affect Zach, my husband.
I started my business right after Zach and I got married, and I initially thought photography would simply be a side hustle to earn a little extra money while giving me a creative outlet.
However, whether you want to blame it on idols I struggle with or my enneagram 3 personality, I quickly allowed my business to consume all of my time and energy. And, as a result, our marriage suffered.
You can listen to “Episode 002: How My Business Almost Cost Me My Marriage” to find out how my workaholic tendencies—as well as some other causes—put us in marriage counseling right before our three-year wedding anniversary. However, today, I’m excited to have Zach on the show to share his side of our story, what it’s like and why it’s hard to be married to a creative entrepreneur, tips for getting your spouse to support your business, and Zach’s thoughts on being “self made.”
Side note: If you aren’t married, please don’t write this episode off. Married or not, you’re in relationships with friends and family, and I can promise you that your business affects those you love too.
How Your Business Affects Your Spouse
Zach can attest firsthand that being married to a creative entrepreneur has its trials. In Zach’s experience, here’s how he’s been affected:
1. Without boundaries, quality time disappears.
When I started my business as a side hustle and even in my first year of being full-time, I worked around the clock. I worked so much that Zach ended up going to events and get-togethers without me, which understandably made him bitter toward my business.
I worked so much because (1) I love what I do and (2) I was afraid that I wouldn’t meet my numbers.
Years into my business, this can still be an issue if I don’t set boundaries and cap how much work I take on.
When you want to spend every spare moment you have working, it can be easy for your spouse to feel as if he/she comes second to your business. If your spouse is (or other people in your life are) truly most important, you have to make time for quality time. This might include putting time on the calendar for quality time or setting office hours so that you have room for free time with your spouse.
2. Even when your business is doing well, your spouse may still be anxious about your finances.
In our situation, I left what I thought was my dream job. I had a steady income, and when I told Zach that I wanted to pursue photography full-time, he was surprised and uneasy about the decision.
While I was sure that I would be able to match my 9-5 salary and even took my numbers to a financial planner to review, Zach was—and still is often—worried about our finances. A 9-5 job is a guaranteed paycheck, and even if you have the numbers to back you up, deciding to go into business for yourself can still be worrisome for your spouse.
If your spouse has concerns, be sure to discuss them. And, remember to be empathetic toward your spouse’s fears and worries.
How to Get Your Spouse On Board with Your Business
If your spouse isn’t currently on board with or supportive of your business, Zach recommends doing a few things:
1. Be clear about your goals.
This is probably one of the biggest mistakes I made when I started my photography business. At the time, I had no intention of leaving my 9-5. Photography was supposed to be a hobby that brought in income.
However, my side hustle quickly turned into another full time job that consumed all of my attention. Because I had no intention of making photography my full-time job, this left Zach asking, “Why are you doing this to yourself? Why are you doing this to us?”
To avoid my mistake, clearly define and communicate your goals with your spouse. When he or she knows why you’re doing what you’re doing, what your ultimate goal is, and how long you need to grind, he or she will be much more likely to get on board and understand.
2. Set boundaries to ensure you have time together.
For years, Zach felt that he came second to my business because I didn’t have any boundaries within my business.
To ensure we have quality time together:
- We schedule weekly date nights
- I cap how much work I take per week
- I schedule one weekend a month to be off, which we often use to take a weekend trip
You can learn more about boundary setting in “Episode 002,” but setting boundaries has helped us ensure that we have time to spend together. Because, quite frankly, for us, if something isn’t on the calendar, it likely won’t happen.
3. Don’t expect your spouse to want to be part of your business.
At one point, I had a dream that Zach would be part of my business, or at least be willing to second shoot. I thought it would be fun to have a shared passion and get to spend more time together over the weekends.
Zach agreed to learn to use a camera, and to test the waters, he third shot a wedding for me. He honestly did an amazing job; however, he didn’t love the experience. Wedding days just aren’t his thing, and it’s unfair to ask him to learn to like them or to conform his personality to meet my business’s needs.
“I just don’t think we have to do everything together,” says Zach. “If there are any photographers or entrepreneurs out there who don’t understand why their spouse isn’t in love with what they do for a living . . . it’s just not for everyone.”
For even more tips on helping your spouse get on board with your business and for helping you and your spouse get on the same page about your business, check out “Five ways to help Your Spouse WANT to Support Your Entrepreneurial Dream.”
I wrote this blog post with Zach’s help when I was making adjustments to my business and setting boundaries to better care for our marriage. If you’re in a similar season or situation, you might find this post helpful!
How Idols Are the Root of Almost All Disagreements
Something that was heavily emphasized while we were in marriage counseling was the fact that when there’s tension or a disagreement, both parties likely have an idol coming into play.
To help show you what we mean, Zach and I break down a recent argument in this episode to show you how our idols come into play.
Long story short, we had a tree taken down in our backyard, and we were spending our nights and weekends getting it cleaned up recently. Zach was cutting and splitting logs, and I was trimming the sticks off the fallen branches and putting them in a pile.
One evening, Zach got home from work and got ready to run. (He runs after work every day.) Before he left, I told him that I was going to finish up what I was doing on my computer, go cut sticks, and then make dinner.
When he returned from his run about a half hour later, I was still sitting at my computer. What I was working on took longer than I thought. Knowing we were running out of time before Bible study (which we host) started, I told Zach I would work in the backyard the next day and was going to start dinner.
Zach was very annoyed with me. I said I was going to do something, and I didn’t.
I made dinner, and because so many people couldn’t attend Bible study anyway, we decided to cancel. I spent the rest of the evening—without eating—angrily cleaning up the backyard.
When I came back inside and we were ready to have a calm conversation, Zach and I discussed this argument. I admitted that my work idol had flared, and I’d really wanted to get everything on my to-do list done. He admitted that his control idol had flared.
Long story short, whenever there’s tension, there’s likely an idol.
Why We Don’t Believe the Term “Self Made”
Within the creative entrepreneur world, we hear the term “self made” pretty regularly. I’d never really thought about it until one day Zach said, “I just don’t believe most people are self made,” and I think he’s right.
While there are certainly people out there who really have had to go it alone, we think it’s safe to say that this isn’t the case for most people.
Yes, running a business is hard work, and there are moments where you have to be brave, learn new things, and ask for help.But, chances are, you didn’t achieve or won’t achieve your dream entirely alone.
Along the way, people will support you; your family and/or friends will support you emotionally and help alleviate stress during busy seasons; and others in your industry will offer advice and guidance that will allow you to get where you want to go faster.
We mean no disrespect, but we do feel it’s important to remember and be thankful for the people and circumstances that have allowed you to achieve your goals.
More From Zach
If you’d like to hear more from Zach, you can find him on Instagram at @rayrayburnmusic. During quarantine, this talented husband of mine wrote an entire album, which will be releasing soon. Please consider giving him a follow!
Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode
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