You joke all the time you’re married to your business. Legally, of course, that’s impossible, but it’s also almost practically impossible. Because if you happen to be married to a living breathing human, that person might take an issue with your being married to something else.
Bottom line: Balancing a small business and a marriage is hard. And if one fails, it doesn’t bode to well for the other. We offer a lot of advice on how to make small businesses successful, but we haven’t delved too much into how to maintain a marriage. So we spoke to Thomas Fallarino, who runs Empire Legal Reporting and Empire Executive Offices in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Not only has he balanced those businesses and his marriage for over a decade, he’s seen small business come in and out of the work spaces he rents. And the personal problems that can come along with them. He offered up some tips on how to successfully balance a business and a marriage.
- Make sure you love your business – Obviously (hopefully?) you love your spouse. But in this delicate balancing act it’s equally as important to love the business you’re in. “It’s human nature you’ll take your business home with you,” Fallarino says. “So love what you do so you’re not fighting at home.
- Separate business from home life – Of course it’s impossible to COMPLETELY separate the two, but limiting discussions of work to a short “How was your day” when you get home keeps dinnertime conversation form becoming a rant about your incompetent employees. It also ensures you won’t be perpetually on your phone, talking to people at work, instead of spending time with your spouse. “Of course, there are exceptions for situations where you need an immediate response,” Fallarino says. “But most of the time, really, it can wait.”
- Make a date night, and never move it – “My wife and I live for Friday nights, without those I don’t know if we’d have made it,” Fallarino says. This is also advice you’d get from most marriage counselors as well, but it’s especially important for those who run a small business. Fallarino suggests planning it like you would a weekly meeting, an essential calendar event than cannot be moved. That way when work comes calling it’s a lot easier to say “Yeah, sorry, I’m busy.” And the time alone will help you to reconnect and improve communication.
- Set limits – This goes for both work and home. People generally understand that letting work seep into your personal life is detrimental to a marriage. Nobody wants to be with someone who takes conference calls during essential Netflix binge time. But sometimes home life seeping into work can be just as big a problem. If your spouse is perpetually communicating with you while you’re trying to run your business, work won’t get done and ultimately goes home with you. If your co-workers, employees, and managers all understand they should not bother you at home, your spouse should understand work time is reserved for work.
- Make to-do lists – “Create a to-do list every afternoon for the following day to set a plan in motion,” Fallarino Says. “Getting the prioritized tasks finished and checked off the list will have you less stressed at home.” It also allows you to organize a more efficient work day, eliminating wasted time and allowing you to be more present with your spouse at home.
- Have a great staff – If you trust the people running your business when you’re not there, you won’t have to think much about it when you’re with your spouse. “I’ve been in business for several years now, when the phone rings at 9-10 PM I can rest assured they’ll take care of it,” Fallarino says. This way you’re not constantly looking at your phone or your email to make sure the job is getting done right.
- Minimize your errands – Time management might be the most essential part of balancing your business and your marriage. And time wasted sitting in traffic going to pick up dry cleaning, or wandering the aisles of the supermarket can be easily made up. The advent of online shopping, grocery delivery, and other “I never have to leave my house” technologies allow you to spend more time with your spouse. And relieve some stress in the process.
By no means is this all one has to do to have a successful marriage while running a small business. It’s a daily commitment and as new issues come up, exceptions will have to be made. But if you’re struggling, try some of the stuff suggested here. We promise, none of it will hurt, and it might just stop those painful jokes about being married to your work.