Does the price of business success equal a doomed marriage?
After all, it’s well known that celebrities and highly successful people have a higher divorce rate than the average couple. If you’re addicted to your business 24/7, it’s no different than having an affair… minus the kissing and the sex.
So, if you want to continue celebrating those anniversaries, what can you do to stay married?
The big marriage secret that Canadian billionaire Kevin O’Leary and his wife Linda live by is this: treat your marriage like a business, and be on the same page about money. Now, as unromantic as that sounds, he seems to have found a winning formula with 30 years of marriage.
Both parties have to respect the join finances and have equal spending habits. One shouldn’t be outspending the other. That means before they even pop the question, they need to financially vet their partner as if they were a potential business partner. They may even fill out a marriage contract.
Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla have drawn up an agreement about how much time they spend together. They have a date night and 100 minutes of time alone together every week. They view their marriage as an important, personal partnership. For successful couples, it’s too easy to let work schedules intrude on personal time.
Most importantly, for the marriage to survive, the couple needs to support each other. Richard Branson credits his wife of 40 years with his success, saying, “I have been able to take risks–that have been fundamental to my success in business–which I probably wouldn’t have dared to make without Joan’s love.”
The spouse must understand the entrepreneur lifestyle for the marriage to survive. Often the entrepreneur may take risks to take the business to the next level, so having support from the spouse is crucial. I’m so fortunate to have a wife who supports me.
People have asked Jennie what it’s like to be married to me. She said my down-to-earth personality makes it easier, but being my partner isn’t easy. The lines between work and personal life too frequently become blurred when you own your business.
It’s very easy for me to be working all the time, so Jennie and I agree that setting clear expectations from day one of your relationship is key to a strong marriage.
So if you’re married to an entrepreneur, or if you’re a married entrepreneur, the advice Jennie and I are about to share from one of our videos may save your marriage.
Watch this video about what it’s like to be married to an entrepreneur.
Jennie: The relationship I expect as the wife of an entrepreneur
As a lady, maybe you want to become a wife of an entrepreneur, especially when they become more successful. When you’re the spouse, you will sacrifice a lot of time and energy. It helps to be involved in his business, so you both have something in common, but you can expect to put in a lot of your time.
There are a lot of things that Dan doesn’t even worry about because it’s not on his mind. He is busy thinking about other things and working on things. You have to think about it for him and yourself, like remembering when it’s time to eat!
Dan: Why you should tell your wife what kind of husband you will be
Early on in the relationship with Jennie, I was reasonably successful with my businesses. When I knew the relationship was getting serious, I told her what my expectations were.
After a few months together, I told her I was an entrepreneur so I’m very busy. There are a lot of things I’m not good at. If she was looking for a guy who remembers to give her gifts for birthdays and anniversaries, she will be disappointed.
I don’t do the little things, like picking her up, cooking her dinner, or taking her to a fancy restaurant. That’s not going to happen in our relationship.
But if she was okay with that, I could do other things, like making her dreams come true. I asked her to list three to five things that she wanted. She said she wanted to go to Disneyland and Japan, so I told her I could do those things, but not the other little details.
I could not be a “normal, typical” boyfriend. I would always be there for her, but even when I’m there, I would always be a little bit zoned out. My mind would alway be focused on something about business. That’s very normal for entrepreneurs.
Zoning out also happens to a lot of people. You’re there, and suddenly you’re not there.
I’m busy thinking about what’s going on with my business, which client I’m going to meet tomorrow. It’s normal for me. It’s the path I’ve chosen as entrepreneur.
I think it took a few years for Jennie and I to gel. We had to make a lot of compromises.
Jennie: You will have to share your husband with his business
I’ve been approached by guys learning from Dan. They asked me why I was so patient. They noticed me supporting Dan from behind the scenes and not asking for a whole lot.
A lot of the time, he goes on stage to speak, and then afterwards a lot of people approach him. Sometimes he speaks before lunch, and then he gets approached so I have to wait and wait for him to be free. Sometimes I can wait up to an hour and we don’t have time for lunch or even to talk before he has to attend his next event.
When guys have asked me how come I’m so patient, I think it goes back to your expectations. If you want a caring husband who does a lot of things for you, like doing housework or taking care of the kids, he doesn’t do that. I know his work comes first and I understand that.
Dan: My wife is my business partner
I’m so focused on my business. Sometimes Jennie wants to teach me how to do something, but I don’t pay attention because after that, she’ll expect me to do it. So I’m not going to learn. I haven’t even learned how to change a lightbulb.
That is the secret. If you’re not too competent with housework, do more of it. Do more of it and show how bad you are at it. So, when I do housework and I screw it up, Jennie doesn’t want me to do it anymore.
I have to give her credit for working with me especially. In some ways our relationship is so unique because we’re not just husband and wife. We are business partners and best friends. We also have the mentor/mentee relationship. I taught her a lot about business.
We also have a working relationship. She’s my makeup artist, my stylist, my assistant, my manager, my consultant, and sometimes driver. When you’re married to a high-level entrepreneur, you have to wear many hats.
It can feel like her world revolves around mine. If I travel, she travels with me. A few years ago, she went through an identity crisis. Did she lose herself? Where was Jennie? Should she do her own thing? What about the career she wanted to pursue before she got married?
Jennie: One spouse’s success is the other spouse’s success too
I went through an identity crisis a few years ago. But I started to think, isn’t my husband’s success mine also? He wouldn’t be where he is today without me.
Also, he gives me credit. He really appreciates what I do. After a hard day, he will thank me. He doesn’t treat me like I’m just doing my job. I’ve noticed that working with him is not like working with other people.
After working with him and then working with others, I realize their performance level is very low. Sometimes Dan will work until 1 AM and he’ll forget to eat. I never hear him say he can’t work long hours, or it’s the weekend so he’s not working.
Dan: Your spouse can become an entrepreneur
I want Jennie to be independent. You never know the future. I want her to have her own business and her own investments so that I know we are together because we want to be together and not because of my financial success.
Jennie could go and do her own thing and be very successful. She’s not with me because of my money. We have joked that one day if we get divorced, the first thing I would have to do is hire her as my VP or my executive assistant.
So if you’re already married to an entrepreneur, you’re stuck. But I hope the advice Jennie and I gave about our marriage and the long-lasting marriages of high achievers inspires you to celebrate many anniversaries. And if you’re thinking of marrying an entrepreneur, I hope this gives you some perspective. Your life will never be the same.
Would you marry an entrepreneur? Comment below.