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Prioritizing your Marriage (when you’re an Entrepreneur)

It’s another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions.

If you've missed past Expert Briefs, you can click on the undies to see them all –>

This week I asked our panel of experts about marriage.

We talked about balance with our kids, but what about your
marriage? How do you, as an entrepreneur, keep a healthy marriage?

It's so much easier for me to put off time with my husband because he doesn't need me. Unlike the kids or business, there aren't immediate consequences to ignoring him. (Although there are obviously long-term consequences.)

In talking with friends who own their own businesses, it seems that it can be especially hard to stay motivated to your marriage when your spouse isn't as passionate about your business as you are.

What are your thoughts about these things?

Shannon Cherry of says:

Well, since you already know my thoughts on balance in general from a previous Expert Briefs (, so I won't go into it here.

I think having a partner in your life is even harder to keep up, especially when you run a business and have kids. It's easy to get taken advantage of and vice versa.

After all, most of us have a pretty full line-up of events, activities, tasks, and obligations – and very little white space for extra time. I can;t help up look at my hubby in bed sometimes and just say, “Hello stranger!”

But there are ways to make this work. First is before you schedule lots of ‘family time', schedule time for the both of you!

Now one benefit I have is that Matt, my spouse, works from home too. So we regularly schedule lunches out of the house to reconnect. Now you may not have the luxury of meeting for lunch, but you can plan a date, right? Can't leave the house? Tuck in the kiddos and rent a movie or make a special dinner.

It won't work out all the time,as kids tend to get sick or injured just as we relax. But the key is to try – and keep trying. Having that connection with your partner is key to your livelihood, both personally and professionally.

Jeanette S. Cates, PhD of says:

My first piece of advice is to choose a great marriage partner. I lucked out the first time and have been happily married for 41 years. But if it's too late to choose a new one…

If you have kids at home you already understand the challenges of creating ANY time for your partner. So you must be very careful to not let the business eat up the “away from the kids” time. It's tempting, but don't go to your computer, even if all you two are doing is watching TV together or reading in the same room. Sometimes just being there is all that you need. I try to not work during the evening, but go back to my computer after he goes to bed (I'm the night owl, he's the early morning person). So even when we had kids he got everyone up and ready in the morning and I stayed up late for dates.

My husband does not share my passion for entrepreneurship. But he listens and sometimes he makes suggestions. Mostly I know he's just letting it go in one ear and out the other unless I tell him we need to meet on something. Then we go to a restaurant where there are no home-based distractions and I take an agenda.

We try to go out at least once a week for dinner with the intent of just spending time together. (and I try not to talk about business) Even when we had three daughters at home, we took one night out each week (before they invented the concept of “date night”).

It all boils down to two things: Be here NOW – when you're with him/her, BE there.

And remember who you came with. When the kids are grown and leave home; when you decide to retire – the one person who will still be there is your partner. Take care of that relationship above all else.

Ronnie Nijmeh of (< -click for a special free offer from Ronnie) says:

First, I've got to say this:

There's no such thing as balance. It's all about integration.

Balance is all about making things “equal” or “fair”… as if life is a scale that needs to be precisely 50-50 in order to “work.” Balance stems from a scarcity mindset – an “either-or” mentality.

On the other hand, integration is all about blending work and family so we can have a meaningful experience in both areas of our life. It's about being flexible with our hours and maybe starting later or ending earlier to accommodate our spouse or family. There's this great Work & Family Foundation that talks all about this.

I think I just de-bunked an age-old myth about “balancing” work and family. 🙂

Here's the beauty of being an online entrepreneur: We can integrate our work and family life far easier than your typical 9-to-5 employee.

We have the ability to nearly seamlessly go from work to life, then back to work, several times over the course of a day.

And that flexibility is something that my wife LOVES about what I do…

Need to go to a 10AM doctor's appointment? No problem.
Want to flee for a spontaneous lunch date? Done and done.
Want to go to a coffee shop and do some work together? Sounds like a plan.

But if I'm swamped, I communicate that to her and she'll give me the time and space I need to get things done. And if I need a pick-me-up, I know I can count on her to inspire me and give me a big boost – and vice versa.

The bottom line: My wife and family always comes first. I figure, I can always catch up on projects and emails, but I can't catch up on quality time with her.

NicoleNicole Dean of .. here! .. says:

I dug up another oldie but goodie. This is an article that I wrote for a magazine in 2005. 🙂

I hope you like it!

Is Your Business Hurting your Marriage?
Remember to Brush your Teeth

* Note: In this article, I’m going to refer to husband, but this applies to anyone in a relationship.

In the last 6 months since I started writing here, I’ve written about ways you can organize your business day and your workspace, how to take your business seriously, taming your tension, and most importantly how important it is to take care of yourself.

But, what about your Husband or Partner? Are you taking care of your relationship, too?

Nicole, What in the World Does this Have to do With my Business?

I know, I know. This is a magazine about working from home. But, since we work from home, oftentimes we tend to be doubly busy and we let work interfere with our marriages.

As if life isn’t busy enough – with paying bills, Dr. Appointments, shuttling kids around, laundry and meals, we try to add a business into the mix.

Are we nuts?! Being a mom is hard enough.

The problem in all of this is that:

  • The bills can’t wait.
  • The kids can’t wait.
  • The dog barking outside can’t wait.
  • The car repairs can’t wait.
  • The roof leak can’t wait.

The only thing that can easily be pushed aside is our husbands. We think “He’s an adult. He’ll understand.”

I say he deserves more. You don’t want to wake up one day and find he’s tired of being pushed aside. He’s tired of being treated as less than your friends you find time to chat with online (while you’re working), less than Grey's Anatomy (that you find time for every week), and he’s tired of being brushed off because of a project that “has to be done”.

I did an interview today. The topic was Romance. I talked about ways to Romance Your Husband – and why it is so important that we do. I'd like to share it with you.

Are you Brushing your Teeth every Day?

The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue. It's a choice you make – not just on your wedding day, but over and over again – and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your husband or wife. Barbara De Angelis

You brush your teeth at least twice a day every day. It’s basic maintenance to keep them from developing problems that require a lot of attention, time, money and pain.

Apply this to your marriage. Do you put daily effort into your marriage?

Imagine if you only brushed your teeth twice per year – on Valentine’s Day & your Anniversary. Or even once per month. How healthy would your teeth be? GROSS! Yet, we think that it’s ok to only Romance our Marriages once or twice per year? It just doesn’t work that way.

So, What Can you Do About It?

Romance is simple and easy. And, Romance can be FREE.

These things don’t cost a cent:

  • Going on a walk.
  • Listening to him
  • Making him coffee in the morning
  • Turning off the light for him when he falls asleep on the couch
  • Packing a love note in his lunch
  • Letting HIM choose the movie you watch

This is a rather old-fashioned statement, but I’ll tell you why I think it’s interesting.

It was a wife's duty to be interested in whatever interested her husband, whether it was politics, books, or a particular dish for dinner.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Although I disagree with “It was a wife’s duty”, I do think that it is a loving gesture to express interest in the things your husband tries to share with you.

For instance, I am not a fan of NASCAR. My husband is. Where I just see cars driving in circles, he sees … something interesting. He tells me all the stories about the drivers and the mechanics behind the cars.

I have a few options.

1. Tell him my “give-a-damn” is busted.
2. Tolerate the stories to get him to shut up.
3. Show him my love by expressing an interest in what he’s telling me about.

No. I don’t love NASCAR. But, I do love my husband. I am just glad that he even tries to talk with me about it. The day he gives up on trying to talk with me about his interests… I’ll be worried.

Your Husband, Your Friend

A husband is a guy who tells you when you've got on too much lipstick and helps you with your girdle when your hips stick.
Ogden Nash

Your husband is your partner for the rest of your life. Hopefully, by “brushing your teeth” every day, you’ll be nurturing a friendship that is solid and comfortable.

In the interview that I did today, she asked if Romance was just for the young. Personally, I am more wowed by seeing two elderly people looking at each other with love after being together for many year of marriage than anything else.

Last summer, my husband and I attended his Aunt and Uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary party. They played the song “Remember When” and the entire room burst into tears. That’s what Romance is all about.

Here's the song in case you don't know it:

My goal in writing this article was to make sure that we all keep our priorities straight. I know working from home is so important for us. We want to be successful. Just make sure the cost isn’t too high in the process.

And here’s a little quote to wrap up.

“Romance does not need to sweep you off your feet. Sometimes it just brings you your slippers.” – Nicole Dean

It’s Your Turn.


So, now, I’ll pose this question to you. What’s your best tip for keeping your marriage a high priority in your life – even when running a business?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Nicole Dean

PS. Here are a few of my favorite Expert Briefs:

I appreciate shares and I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.

  • Ronnie Nijmeh

    Love the renewal of vows pic, Nicole! 🙂

    And I love what you said:
    “The day he gives up on trying to talk with me about his interests… I’ll be worried.”

    It’s so true! Marriage is all about sharing, loving, and growing together as a couple. And that must never stop!

  • DeAnna Troupe, Small Business Training Lady

    The way I balance marriage and business is too make sure that there is a time for everything. In other words, there are certain times of the day that are allocated for work and certain times of the day that are allocated for family (including the hubby). This way everyone knows what’s expected of them and everyone knows they will get my attention at some point in the day. I also do things like watch wrestling (which I hate but he loves) and make him his favorite dishes even though I just want to microwave something and go to bed. Those little things go a long way in keeping everything balanced in our marriage.

  • DeAnna Troupe, Small Business Training Lady

    That should have been “to” and not “too”. I hit enter way to fast.

  • Patti Stafford

    Great post, Nicole!

    This is the third marriage for both of us, but I’ve been in love with my husband since I was 14. If we’d married each other the first time we could have saved ourselves a lot of trouble, but stuff happens. LOL

    For me personally, and this is a bit old fashioned, but if I can’t drop what I’m doing for his whims, it’s not worth doing. With that being said, if I’m busy he will amuse himself. But I try very hard to keep his working schedule so I’m free in the evenings or I’m just doing research and can be interrupted.

    I work from home but he’s the one using the spare room for his “man cave.” LOL Our kiddos are all grown so with it being just us, we have lots of time together in the evenings. We “date” several nights per week because we love British sitcoms and get them from Netflix.

    Plus, with him being a musician, I keep my evenings and weekends as free as possible because you never know when a gig is coming up.

    We have a near perfect life and relationship. Once business takes off and allows us some travel, it will be perfect–for us. Everyone’s “perfect life” is unique to them, and this is our perfect life. 🙂

    Thanks again for sharing this post.


    P.S. Yes, I have spoiled him rotten and wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • Peggy Baron

    Ronnie sounds like a newlywed 😀

    This topic is something I have to remind myself about sometimes. And you’re right, everything else seems to come first, so we have to make the effort and be proactive rather than follow along in the course of our days and weeks and be reactive.

    That’s why me and the hubs are going skiing together on Monday, just the two of us. 🙂

    “Romance does not need to sweep you off your feet. Sometimes it just brings you your slippers.” – Nicole Dean

    I like that Nicole!


  • Ben

    My wife loves that I am an entrepreneur. Some aren’t so lucky!

  • The Mom

    Please don’t tell me I’m the only one who gets teary-eyed with these briefs of yours, Nicole. I love that picture of you two. And, your little quote there chokes me up. Probably because it sounds like growing old together.

    The brushing your teeth analogy is perfect! Although, I must say, there are mornings where I lose track of time and it becomes more than just an analogy. oopsy… There is something to be said for getting ready for the day as if you were going on a date. I have had times where I’ve indulged my laziest self and fallen into a very slouchy habit, and it’s not a pretty sight. So, there’s that. 😉

    One thing we’ve always done (even when we both worked outside) is put something on the calendar. That means, PLAN! Buy tickets for a show. It’s amazing what a little “7:30 Spamalot” on the calendar will do for your mood! Take a day or two and go somewhere.

    Aside from special events, planning a good meal at least 2 or 3 times a week makes a difference. Looking forward to good food is something we enjoy.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts. Thanks again, Nicole, for the great post. How’d you get so smart? 😉

  • Rhonda

    My hubby and I plan weekly lunch dates…so that we can reconnect with each other. We also plan family night with the kids each week so that everyone gets together.

    Yesterday, we both went on a “business” lunch date which we plan to do on a monthly basis to share our own personal / business goals. It helps us stay aware what each other is doing and encourage each other. It also gives me time to explain to my hubby exactly what I’m doing in my home business. When your mate understands what you’re doing, they’ll more than likely be more supportive.

  • Lee Fecteau, Internet Marketing Guides

    I like how mindful you are about the things that are the most important. And it is not just about making money. It’s about our relationships with out significant other(s) as well as with God.

  • Shelley Hitz, Self Publishing Coach

    Thanks for the blog and reminder to us all. Just like anything in life, a great marriage takes work…time and effort. Therefore, my husband and I make a deliberate effort to spend quality time together, often away from our home (where we also work) to avoid distractions. It can be something as simple as driving five minutes to our local coffee shop and sitting and talking for an hour or so.

    I’ll admit that we’ve had some rough patches in our marriage, especially early on. And I’ll never forget some advice my mom gave me during our second year of marriage. I didn’t want to hear it at the time, but she said, “Shelley, remember that the only person you can change is yourself.”

    Ouch. I was defensive at first demanding that HE was the person that needed to change. However, after re-evaluating myself, I realized that my responses weren’t helpful…the nagging, bossiness and critical comments. I was convicted. And as I began to change, I began to see my husband change as well. It was amazing!

    Therefore, I’ve taken that lesson through the last 12 years of my marriage and realize that when we hit tough times, it’s time for some soul searching and prayer to ask God if there are any areas I need to change. And then I also pray for God to begin to change my husband as well. I believe in the power of prayer and have witnessed what I would call “miracles” in our marriage as I have prayed and asked for God’s help.

    And finally…you know the saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side?” Well, my husband says, “The grass is greenest where you water it the most.”

    And I believe that is true with our marriages too 🙂

  • Temi

    The closest we get to balance is sitting opposite each other, both with our laptops on our laps!

  • Bob Lampard

    Hey Nicole
    What a great post and reminder that our relationships are so important to us as well as our business.
    My tip for keeping a great relationship, and this applies to any relationship not just a marriage, is laughter.
    Always remember that your business and your relationships should be fun. Lots of laughter not only keeps a relationship alive but also keeps you young.
    Even Michelle Obama said this is what keeps her marriage fresh only a week or so ago.
    You are also living proof of this, always smiling and ready with a quip.
    So keep on laughing.

  • Kathy

    Nicole, thank you for this post. It, and the other replies, have given me much food for thought.

    My hubby and I got engaged 5 days after we met and we’ve been married for 30 years. Like all marriages, we’ve had our rough spots but we’ve both been determined to get through them. We have two lovely children, our 28 year old son has some special needs and still lives at home. Our beautiful daughter has spread her wings but rings often and comes home as much as she can. To me, my family has always come first. If I’m working (at home) and someone wants me to come watch a movie on TV, the laptop gets shut, even if I’m in the middle of something. Family is more important. I’m only completely content when the four of us are together.

    Shelley – your mother’s comment about you being the only person you can change is oh so true. I’ve been trying and failing for 30 years with hubby so will have to try something different.

    We’ve settled into a routine now and I’d love to be be able to change parts of it. He works hard and falls asleep in front of TV, every night. That annoys me, especially if it’s something like a documentary that he wanted to watch when I would have preferred CSI or something ‘light and mindless’. I’ve tried waking him but now just let him sleep. I don’t enjoy that he prefers working for our community to the exclusion of working to finish the house we built and have been living in for 15 years. That’s something that I’m working on – trying to schedule an ‘appointment’ to paint our bedroom so the carpet we bought when we were building can go down.

    However when it comes to the important things, he’s right there, front and center. I have had some major health issues over the past two plus weeks and he’s either been waiting at the doctor’s for me for moral support, or he’s come home to take me in. He stopped working (he’s self employed) when I was admitted to hospital last week, to be with me. I don’t trust myself to drive right now as I’m too weak so my son has become my chauffeur. Even today, hubby appeared as I came out of the podiatrist’s office, because he knew I was there and that I am still so unwell.

    We laugh until we cry over the silliest things. That is so important.

    I must say I’m looking forward to the next 30 years together and can’t wait for him to retire so we can be together all the time. And maybe by then, we’ll have time to put down that carpet.


  • Lain Ehmann

    One thing I do is to ask my husband’s advice. He’s not an internet entrepreneur, but he has dozens of years of experience in sales, marketing, and business — plus he has an MBA! Asking his advice shows that I value his input, and it also helps bring him up to speed on what’s going on in my business.

    Great series!

  • Peny|embroidered coat

    Balance is the key in everything. I mean we must know our priorities and needs. And we must know the reasons beyond our priorities. Our family, especially our partners/husbands must be one of our priorities. Personally speaking, I make it a point always to give time in each day to my hubby. I keep in mind, that my life is too short and I don’t wanna waste it just by useless frustration and hurts. Surely, in every relationship, there is always misunderstanding, but forgiveness and love could always dwell in our relationships, eh. I may not live long, but I know that I live fully through the people that I love specially my hubby and my family.

  • Samantha Gardner

    As an entrepreneur, my life is a constant balancing act too! Similar to others of you – my hubby and I have a standing Friday night babysitter and it is out for date night. Sometimes its dinner and movie or other times it is as simple as running errands that we did not finish earlier in the week. That is important is that it is just the two of us minus all the distractions for a while.
    -Samantha from Good Day Momprener

  • Custom Logo

    I have got to admit it is hard because we both work from home and seem to gravitate towards the computers with the morning cuppa. But we do take time off at least once a week and have a lunch date and we make sure that we don’t work on weekends whenever possible.

    We came through the raising kids part and now that is over we were in danger of forgetting who we were with. Fortunately we both recognized that without each other what we were doing online wasn’t worth it – I could start another business tomorrow, but I would never find anyone as supportive as my partner ever, and I keep that thought uppermost in my mind all of the time.

  • Amy

    Hi Nicole,

    I came across your site after hearing you on Pat Flynn’s podcast a couple months ago. I have to say, I just love your approach to business and the internet!! Your latest answers to his PLR questions are terrific, and definitely helped me to see how they could be used in different ways.

    I love the topic of marriage, too! My husband is an officer in the Army, and we have 2 kids ages 2 and under, and we’ve decided to get something going online this year to increase our cash flow and career options.

    This means we have less “free time” to chat and hang out. But we have been going out two or three times a month for dates so that we can hang out and have fun. We also make an effort to NOT WORK at least one night a week. We’re in “building mode” right now, so hopefully this kind of routine won’t last forever. But honestly, it’s so much fun working towards a goal with your spouse.

    (Oh–I’ve made a special effort to reapply make up before he gets home (ha! ha!) and take my hair out of a ponytail:)

    Thanks again, Nicole! I really enjoy your philosophy and website!


  • Mrs. Entrepreneur

    My Entrepreneur signed a contract with me stating that if he doesn’t make millions by our 10th anniversary I can get out of the marriage, fair and square.

    just kidding.

    Being Married to an Entrepreneur is much more than I bargained for.
    More work and more reward. It takes sacrifice and support.

    Check out my blog for more.

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