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Launching a Business Without Killing Your Marriage

Gene Marks' NY Times blog on the art of running a small business included two items that caught my attention yesterday.

The first is a great quote from Penelope Trunk in Venture Beat:

"The dirty secret about start-up founders is they can't keep marriages together. Part of the reason for this is they are crazy to begin with. And part of the reason is that you have to be married to your company to do a start-up. So divorce rates are high, especially among women, because they are much less likely to have a spouse who is willing to stay home and keep the family intact. So I got a divorce. It was on the cover of The New York Times. And all P.R. is good P.R., of course, but I realized, while I was going through the process, that I wanted a successful marriage more than I wanted a successful career. And then I thought, 'No. I want both.' And I became exhausted wondering how women get both. (Until I realized, oh, this is why women don't do start-ups.)"

I happen to think there is a lot one can do to keep the family intact during a start-up, starting with how you break the news to your husband or wife. It's all covered in my online course, Enjoy Being Married When You Take the Self-Employment Plunge.

The second was a quote by Michael Idov in Slate:

"Within weeks, Lily and I -- previously ensconced in an enviably stress-free marriage -- were at each other's throats. I hesitate to say which was worse: working the same shift or alternating. Each option presented its own small tortures. Two highly educated professionals with artistic aspirations have just put themselves -- or, as we saw it, each other -- on $8-per-hour jobs slinging coffee. After four more months, we grew suspicious of each other's motives, obsessively kept track of each other's contributions to the cause ("You worked three days last week!"), and generally waltzed on the edge of divorce. The marriage appears to have been saved by a well-timed bankruptcy."

Enjoy Being Married When You Take the Self-Employment Plunge includes a section on working together, too. Two of the most important points in it are defining "fair" in advance and divvying up the tasks in a way that lets each of you bring your best character strengths to the job, which produces a lot more job satisfaction.

Are you thinking of launching a business? Are you guiding your own business through these economic hard times? How's it going? What's working for you? What problems would you like help with? Hundreds of people read this blog every day and would love to benefit from your experiences and to help you get past your current obstacles. Your comments are always welcome.


oh, God, my husband wants to start a brewpub. He's only been talking about it for five years now. At first I thought it was a phase, but I'm starting to be afraid he may be quite serious.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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