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Telling Your Wife You're Starting a Business

While the kids were young, Tom earned most of the money he and Selena and their two girls lived on. Now that the girls are in middle school, Selena's earning a bit more. For Tom, this feels like the ideal time to start his own business if he's ever going to do it.

If it fails, he can be back in someone else's employ before the girls are applying to colleges. If it succeeds the way he hopes, they will be able to look at private colleges and not just state schools.

Tom wants to know what to consider before sharing his plan with Selena. These tips come from my online, self-study course, Enjoy Being Married When You Take the Self-Employment Plunge

  1. Consider all the ways this will affect Selena, Tom, from your schedule and employment benefits to the financial risk you two face to her freedom to make her own employment changes.

  2. Pay attention to any difference in the way you two approach decisions, so she's clear on whether you are announcing your decision or seeking her input into it.

  3. Give some thought to how she will perceive the changes in your life together, given her love language and the family she comes from.

  4. Plot a course that will bring in money quickly, because Selena will not have the hour-to-hour feedback or control you will have, and making quick money gives you and her lots of quick feedback.

  5. Expect to differ on the details, so get clear on what you want to get from being self-employed and look for Third Alternatives that let her get what she needs, too.

Put your marriage first and the new business second. It will increase your chances of success and of enjoying the fruits of your hard work. If you do not put it first, the demands of a new business can easily squeeze your marriage to death.

Are you thinking of starting a new business, too? These tips apply to telling a husband or life partner as well as a wife. Give your new business and your marriage better odds by starting off on the right foot.

I have been self-employed for much of my adult life, from part-time freelance gigs to full-time sole proprietorship and limited liability corporation (LLC), through two marriages. From personal experience as well as the available research, I can tell you it matters a lot, to your financial success and personal happiness, how you handle your marriage during and after a business launch.


Most important: Talk about it first! Don't wait until you've quit the steady income to tell the spouse about the dramatic life change in the works!

And, plan to keep some home life steady, more the way it was "before" in spite of the added time demands of a new enterprise. (date night will be even more important, and so will time sharing your efforts and success with the rest of the family)

Thanks, Sara!

I have found getting my wife involved in some of the decisions in the business also helps.

Thanks, Josh!

I find your insight about it sensible and reasonable. It is an advantage for a man and wife to be in one direction at home and at work. It is easier for everything to get solve when both is involved.

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

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