One of the most challenging lifestyles is working with your spouse in a thriving small business, says Dr. Kathy J. Marshack, a psychologist noted for her research and work related to couples and families who together own and manage businesses. According to some estimates, over three million U.S. small businesses are owned and co-managed by couples. How do they make it work?


How successful couples keep
their marriages and businesses on track

“Most successful entrepreneurial couples love the opportunity to be independent, in charge of their own destinies, and to work alongside the one they love and trust most.”

Dr. Kathy J. Marshack


1 | They follow the 100% – 100% Rule

According to Marshack, both members of the couple must be 100% responsible for the quality of their individual life as well as their shared ventures (e.g., parenting, household duties, managing a business). It’s not a 50%-50% rule where the two members of the couple meet each other half way. Even though responsibilities, skills, abilities or training will naturally mean that duties are shared, each member of the couple must view them self and their partner equally responsible for achieving a shared goal. According to Marshack, “They each must put in their entire selves, talents, intuitions, and muscle into both their personal relationship and business partnership, making each equally responsible for the outcome.”

2 | They channel their competitive spirits into positive, productive goals

People who own their own businesses often are competitive. Often, very competitive. Successful business couples don’t ignore or stifle such competition. They direct their competitive spirit into things that are productive, even fun.  Worrying about ego or pride is a waste of precious energy that can better be used in pursuit of a couple’s dreams. That way not only do they each succeed, but their spouse, family, business, and community benefit too.

3 | They make their love of each other their top priority

While they feel the never-ending tug of their business, successful business couples are aware of how to balance those business needs with the more important needs of their personal lives. Making time for friendship, romance and family togetherness is difficult but imperative. And they establish a structure that will keep these priorities straight.

 4 | They renegotiate the terms of their personal and professional lives

By making love the top priority, business couples have a simple way to notice when they need to reorient their lives. If there is no time to give or receive love, then it becomes time to renegotiate the terms of the partnership. If life isn’t meaningful or fun for either of you, it is time to re-evaluate the marriage or the business partnership or both. If some things need changing, they do it promptly; refusing to suffer the consequences of a loveless marriage or failed business, or both.

VIA | Dr. Kathy J. Marshack,  “Successful couples in business share traits that keep love, business alive

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