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The risks to your marriage when starting a business

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There have been few periods in history as fertile as this one for an entrepreneurial seed to take hold. Those with a passion and a plan can find their fortunes through a combination of quality work, good marketing and a consumer market that’s willing to embrace the artisan, the craftsman or the unique intellectual offerings of a visionary.

Unfortunately, embracing your passions and dreams can kill your marriage.

While there isn’t a lot of research on the subject, the anecdotal evidence is high that entrepreneurs experience a lot of marital troubles. According to the experts (including some entrepreneurs who have been there), this is why:

  • The business eats into family time. The entrepreneur is forced to focus on business so often that there’s little time for family vacations, family time or even family dinners.
  • The amount of mental attention the business requires can leave the entrepreneur too mentally tired to engage with his or her spouse — even when there is a social occasion or some “downtime.”
  • Many new businesses are operating under a small budget and a tremendous amount of pressure. Newly-minted business executives may try to protect their spouses from the stresses of things like payroll problems, legal threats and trouble with personnel, but they can’t hide their stress. A spouse may feel shut out by the attempts you make to spare him or her some stress.
  • Financial strains can crack a marriage wide open if both partners aren’t expecting some bumps in the financial road. For example, if you used to be employed at a high-paying job and your spouse is used to spending freely, having a suddenly-restricted spending limit can make your spouse angry and resentful.
  • Your spouse may even feel that you are more “in love” with your business than you are with him or her.

Ultimately, the problem may come down to a basic issue: marriage is essentially about togetherness and stability while entrepreneurship is generally about risk and often the result of a lone individual’s dreams.

There’s no easy cure to the dilemma if you choose to pursue your dream — but knowing the risks are high, it might be wise to talk to a family law attorney about how to insulate your business in the event of a divorce. It might also be wise to invest in counseling to help you and your spouse prepare for the road ahead.

Source: Inc., “The Start of a Company, the End of a Marriage,” Jessica Bruder, accessed Jan. 12, 2018

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