For many couples, it’s hard to stay connected. The challenges are even greater when one of you is an entrepreneur and the other is an employee with a traditional workday. It’s important to communicate skillfully, discuss your ideal work/life balance and implications, set realistic expectations, take responsibility for your choices and plan quality time together.
When sharing feedback, it’s important to speak about what you noticed and how you think and feel about the situation. When you “stay on your side of the net,” you share how something impacts you and what you need or want. Avoid blaming or criticizing. Being open, honest, respectful and constructive helps build goodwill and trust within your relationship. If emotional tension rises, take a pause so that you can both calm down before you circle back to discussing the issues.
Work/Life Balance and Implications
What is your ideal work/life balance? How much time do you want to have together as a couple and as individuals? How are you managing, individually and as a couple? It’s important to know where you each stand and to recognize that it may change over time.
If one or both partners’ work involves some financial instability, it’s important to discuss openly how the joint finances will be handled. Will one person need to pick up the slack and if so, for how long and how, if at all? Will that partner be compensated down the road? It’s a good idea to work with a financial professional to go over the ramifications of your choices. Partners need to be forthcoming about their comfort level. Regular check-ins can help partners stay connected about financial and emotional realities so that resentment doesn’t creep in.
Set Realistic Expectations
Ideally, synchronize your work and sleep schedules as much as possible so that you have a rough plan of when you can be together. Give as much notice as possible when you have to change plans. Don’t make commitments that you probably won’t be able to keep. Recognize that things will come up and be flexible.
Take Responsibility for Your Choices
When one partner says, “I can’t join you for dinner tonight; I have to work a proposal,” it sounds as if they have no choice in the matter. When they say, “I want to work on a proposal tonight, so I won’t be joining you for dinner,” they are consciously naming their deliberate choice and taking responsibility for it rather than sounding like they “have to.” Otherwise, “I have to work…” can become a refrain that ends up being justification for not spending time together and attending to family obligations. This can create a frustration and resentment spiral for the entrepreneur partner who may decide to shut out the working partner even more.
Plan Quality Time Together
When you do have time together, make it count. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, get present with each other. Eye contact, snuggling, sharing touch and affection can be relaxing and soothing to each of you, and it can refresh your bond.
If any difficulties arise that you can’t resolve or if one or both of you aren’t interested in addressing them, you may want to get support from a coach or counselor, either individually or as a couple. It’s worth it to invest in your relationship so that you both can thrive as individuals and as a couple.