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So You Married An Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship Comments (37)

Why, yes you did.

You married an entrepreneur.

You married an unending source of ideas and passion…the eternal optimist.

You may not have known it at the time, but you agreed to travel down an ever-changing path of life.

In fact, you’re probably traveling down multiple paths at once.

You married a person who considers sleep as optional.

How about money? Oh yeah, that thing that entrepreneurs periodically think about.

Yes, there will be countless moments when your spouse appears unfocused, spread too thin, and/or distracted by impossible dreams. (In most cases, you’re probably right!)

You will try to reason with them, challenge them, and even periodically guilt them into taking a more stable route in life, but you know how that goes…

You will find yourself rolling your eyes from time to time at their next “new big opportunity” and their inevitable “I’m so close” mantra.

Don’t give up.

Don’t forget what attracted you to your spouse. I’m sure that it had something to do with the life-giving energy and passion you saw in them.

Don’t forget that there are a small minority people in our world that can wake up each morning looking forward to engaging their vocation. Your spouse is one of them.

Don’t forget that you are the most treasured individual in their life. They may appear too busy or distant at times, but know that deep inside they often do think about you and are motivated by their love for you.

Don’t forget that they need you to believe in them, encourage them, and speak the truth in love. Small acts of care and support can make a world of difference for them.

Life’s an adventure (whether or not you want it to be).

Plus, what fun would it be if you were married to a person who just knew exactly what to do all of the time?

Stability is overrated and in my opinion, a mirage.

Embrace your spouse and enjoy the journey.

Celebrate the ideas that are implemented and learn from those that don’t.

Communicate often and honestly without becoming pessimistic.

Refuse to give up the thought that we truly can live out our passions.

So, you married an entrepreneur? Good.

Charles Lee

P.S. If you’re an entrepreneur reading this, make sure you work extra hard on developing practical strategies, processes for implementation, and a viable network to actualize your ideas. Step up your game if you’re expecting your spouse to venture with you. Talk is cheap. Let’s get stuff done.

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On January 12, 2012
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37 Responses to So You Married An Entrepreneur

  1. Dave Ingland says:

    Charles, as a former entrepreneur I lived out all of the things you wrote about: long nights working out my plan, big ups and downs as ideas/strategies worked or didn’t, and the constant cycle of trying to stay ahead of market shifts. My wife was with me the whole way. When I would tell her something, she would simply reply, “Don’t worry, I trust you.”

    Reading your post today has stirred up some feelings I’ve been trying to pinpoint and confirmed some things I have planned for 2012. Whether I go back to being an entrepeneur or not, I need to feel like I’m living with the vision and focus i had when I was or I won’t be a happy camper this year. My wife concurs. Good stuff Charles! Thanks for posting.

    • Charles says:

      Thanks for the note Dave!

      Glad to hear that this was affirming at some level. Always have appreciated your thoughtful approach to life & vocation.

      • Kerry Vandergrift says:

        I have been married to an entrepreneur for more than 40 years and notice that no one who has responded has this longevity ……….. I look at your hopeful young faces and think you have a lot ahead of you – and – it may not be healthy relationships. It is rather like gambling addiction as far as I can tell – a more acceptable name – entrepreneur – but still a gambler. You have no idea how very difficult it is for family to live with the ong term stress of this life choice work. – 7 days a week.
        My advice to men who wish to be married, fathers and entrepreners is to find a partner who is used to this life growing up – if her father was a salesman, did commision work, and her mother was a good money manager, did not expect holidays or a balanced life, then she will be familiar with the stress in the relationship and household. Finances should be discussed up front before marriage so women know what to expect. Love is not enough when years of living with an entrepreneur provides only occasional perks for a wife. Over many years of up and down distress with few holidays or ways to replentish the relationship, and with added financial tension and differing ideas of how to spend time and money it becomes too much to bear.
        Also, it is great to be a young – or even middle aged -entrepreneur with years in front of you to recover financially but the retirement years and health issues come quickly and with all resources spent on chasing the next “big dream” you may end up with few resources , broken relationships, and a burden for your children. It is not fair to leave your loved one to clean up your debts.
        So men…………….. listen up…………. it is not just about you and your dream if you are a married man. It is really just self indulgence that others have to pay for. Exciting when young, but a whole different book to be written when old. Good luck to you and to the women you hold dear in your lives.

        • Charles says:

          Thanks so much for your note Kerry. It’s clear from your comment that you have experienced a lot in life as a spouse of an entrepreneur. I appreciate the wisdom you’ve communicated to those reading this post.

          I write in my book about things like family, life rhythm, what matters most, etc. The last thing I would want is someone who lives a self-indulgent life. I concur that this vocation can be addictive. No doubt. I think that’s why having a community of people who provide perspective is crucial for an entrepreneur, both family and friends who understand the dynamics of things like financial tension.

          I’ve talked many people out of entrepreneurship as well. I definitely don’t think anyone can be an entrepreneur. Although I’ve only been doing this for a little over 20 years, I have seen how extreme it can get. Nothing is that important to pursue that disregards family.

          Towards the end of my book, I do ask more soul searching questions about what’s enough and what matters most in life.

          I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to share. Inexperience can be both are greatest ally and our greatest foe. We need all kinds of people along the way to steer us in the right direction.

          Thanks for contributing to the conversation.

  2. Missro says:

    Hmmm??? I would have to say this, I think once an entrepreneur, you will always have that spirit. What I don’t agree with is the idea that one follows their entrepreneurial dream with blind ambition as to not be able to create a life for their family. I believe at some point if you have not been to achieve a certain level of success with your venture, you need to take a step back and evaluate. One thing that the entrepreneur community is acknowledging and respecting is that failure is a good thing. So, your venture is not doing well, you can barely afford your home, food on the table, clothes on your back, your in debt up to your eyeballs and I think that’s the time to create a more stable foundation, maybe for year, then you create the money, meet amazing people, and you get back out there and you work on your next venture. There’s one thing to not give up, there’s another thing to relentlessly pursue a dream in a selfish manner.

    • Charles says:

      Thanks for your note Missro :)

      I totally agree with you. I usually advise people not to give up their day job in pursuing a new venture until there’s room financially to take a risk. Most studies show that successful entrepreneurs are fairly calculated in their risk taking. (Reason for my “PS” note.) I also talk about this in my book coming out next month, “Good Idea. Now What?”

      Great points!

      • Missro says:

        First of all, love the title of your book, “Good Idea. Now What?” and I think I will have to pick up a copy for myself. Second, yes, I’m glad you brought up that point about not giving up your day job. I feel that the best thing to do is pursue your dream with some form of stability and when it’s at a certain level, you go full force ahead!

  3. Great post. As an entrepreneur, how do you want your significant other to show support?

    • Charles says:

      Thanks Terrell!

      Great question.

      I suppose it really depends on the entrepreneur. For me, simply getting constructive feedback and verbal support is enough. Each person has a different way of sensing support…kind of like the various love languages.

      I’m hoping that couples are aware of how the other senses support for any endeavor.

      How do you want your significant other to show support? Curious :)

  4. Love it! Haha. You nailed it.

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  6. Mike Wolfe says:

    Great article and couldn’t be more true! I’ve shared it on Twitter and sent it to my fiance. First time reader and look forward to more of your articles!

  7. Dino says:

    Haha, that’s exactly what we’re like, great post!

    Of course you can always take the approach my partner is taking – if you can’t beat them, join them!

  8. Great post. Experienced all of this…and things fell apart. We are who we are…

  9. AJG says:

    Welp. I married an Entrepreneur and this article was so on target that I thought he wrote it!

    Thanks for posting: )

  10. SubhakarRao says:

    Very nice to marriage a entrepreneur

  11. Love the insight! Sharing with my readers as well.

  12. Marie says:

    As I read your column, I just kept going, yes, yes, yes. I’ve been married for 12 years (we are renewing our vows next month) and all the positives that you describe about the entrepreneurial spirit is ingrained in my husband…but also all the exhausting aspect of this spirit. It’s literally exhausting to be married to him…but its also a very unique, special and wonderful blessing. We will probably never be bored. He also has found a start-up to develop that I can actually be co-founder and that has been also great and awful all at the same time! Thanks for your column!! I’m glad to see I’m not the only one!

    • Charles says:

      Thanks for the note Marie!

      Yes, you guys are definitely not alone in this. :) Appreciate you articulating your journey… Life can be difficult and good simultaneously. Congrats on your renewing of your vows! Maybe you could add a little statement about being an entrepreneur…haha

  13. Hannah says:

    I LOVE this! So perfect. Sent it straight to my husband. Thanks for the reminder to me (the entrepreneur) of what’s important as well.

  14. From the perspective of the actual entrepreneur, I can say with all honesty that I do put my poor husband through this. :) The only difference is that I’m super practical and worry about money a lot… so thankfully I’m not head-in-the-cloud idealistic. But there are definitely a lot of hours put into it, a lot of worry, a lot of passion, a lot of business-obsessed talk. I very rarely am able to stop thinking about my business for more than a few minutes at a time. It’s sort of always with me, like how I imagine someone with a child would feel if the kid was over at a friend’s house for the night. It is my baby, it is my passion, and I am obsessed with it. I try to remember that he’s not, though… and keep that in perspective as much as I can (for him AND for myself). :)

    • Charles says:

      Well said Carolyn! I’m so glad to hear that you’re not a “head-in-the-cloud” idealist. So healthy… Glad to hear that you are committed to taking care of your “baby” :)

  15. P says:

    I’m in the middle of a divorce right now because my choice to stay an entrepreneur was “too much risk.” All the criticisms that I heard was spot on. So it’s refreshing and encouraging to see an article like this in support. :) Bravo, to all of you who chose to stick it out!

  16. Yeeeaaahhhh says:

    Wow! If this isn’t viewing through rose colored glasses, I don’t know what possibly could be. I hate to be Debby downer here, but, give me a freaking break. You marry and entrepreneur, ESPECIALLY a successful one, be ready for an absent spouse. Doing a lot of “life” stuff by yourself. Yeah, you’ll do it in better clothes, nicer places & better cars…but they will never “retire.” Its always about building. Resign yourself to never being their #1.

    It’s lonely at the right side of the man on top…make good friend.

  17. David Strager says:

    I have been end entrepreneur for the past 10 years i met my wife while she was working for one of my companies. Very cool blog post

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  19. Karo says:

    So pleased that I have found this site. Husband has been an entrepeneur during our 20 years of marriage.A number of business ideas failed and we lost significant funds in the process. A few have been succesfull and kept the family going. Even if a business idea is successful however, he seems to have the need to move on and start something new. I became more actively involved in the last venture and really focussed on the bottom line – earning enough to support the family for 2 years. Problem is that, as soon as he realises that I am able to generate enough money to keep things afloat, his time and effort goes into new ideas. Financial security, an emergency fund and planning for retirement is essential to me but I can’t see this ever happening as the need to create something new once again seems to always eat into our savings. I have stood by this man for many years, accepting the reality of a partner who always seems to be preoccupied with the next venture. Can one equate this addiction to a gambling addiction? Confusing because it the fact that someone is continually striving and working seems like strong attributes but the effect this is having on a personal level, is devastating after so many years. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Charles says:

      Thanks so much for your note.

      I think being an entrepreneur is not the same as being an idea-lover or even an idea-starter. The former scales business and then finds a way to sustain it or sell it. I’ve seen many idea-starters that jump from idea to idea after an initial season. Without a plan to scale or sustain it through another individual or individuals, business ideas probably won’t survive.

      Collaboration, with some clear expectations and boundaries, usually help idea folks stay focused on the task ahead. Creating a team of trusted individuals might be a possible option to consider (even if it means you make less in the short run).

      There’s no doubt that moving from endeavor to endeavor can create a lot of pain in relationships. Sounds like some hard conversations may be on the horizon. Launching something is only as great as your ability to make it last.

      No easy answers here… And yes, ideas can be addictive.

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