Your Man’s Starting a Business: Keeping The Relationship Alive—And Protecting Your Interests

November 13, 2012  |  

More and more women, according to Forbes, are holding down the fort while their man gets their career or business going.

Think about Tina Knowles, mother of Beyonce and Solange. She toiled long hours in her beauty shop while her husband, Mathew, quit his 9-to-5  as a corporate executive in 1992 to manage Destiny’s Child. It was a gamble that paid off. But, writes Umaimah Mendhro in Forbes, most often while the women pay the bills, they really don’t expect to see a big payoff from their husbands’ ventures. The women are doing it all for love.

Still when one person is carrying all the weight, it can put a strain on a relationship, regardless of how much love there is.

“It should be expected that lots of strain on the marriage will occur when one partner who used to be available in the evenings for helping the children complete homework or taking care of the household, is now cooped up in the den working countless hours on the business plan, marketing ideas or he is out networking or promoting the business,” says licensed psychologist  Dr. Tiffany D. Sanders. “His lack of availability  can build resentment especially if the wife feels her work is not being appreciated.”

Cutbacks on family expenses and activities are also inevitable.  “It can cause a financial strain because discretionary income is now being diverted into the business, which can cause tension because the family may feel deprived from doing fun things it loves,” notes Sanders.

The couple needs to remember they are in it together. “Through joint contribution, both husband and wife play a role in the husband’s personal accomplishments. A wife’s supportive role often creates the time, space and opportunity necessary for the husband to succeed. Every accomplishment should, therefore, be attached to a shared vision for their marriage, their family and their future,” explains relationship expert Hasani Pettiford of the Couples Academy via email .

Being supportive is a must, but being naive is another thing. A wife — or husband — shouldn’t support every whim of their mate. Before any new venture is undertaken that will affect the household income, discussions need to take place, outlining the kind of commitment that needs to be made, says Sanders.

“To keep the marriage intact, a system must be implemented. Seeking hired help or assistance from family is essential. Scheduling both spousal and family time together is non-negotiable. Allocating funds to adjust for the change in finances is paramount,” adds Pettiford.

And don’t put your own needs—emotionally or professionally — aside. “Just like some businesses have weekly meetings, couples need to make regular time to cultivate their relationship, whether that’s dinner dates or frequent communication,” suggests Sanders.  And wives need to continue to pursue their dreams to avoid resentment from either party, Sanders adds..

But who can forget the classic scene in Waiting To Exhale when Bernadine, played by Angela Bassett, having been dumped by her husband — a man who she supported while he got his business up and running — burns his car and clothes in blaze of revenge?  What if the Bernadine scenario plays out?

“The more she’s recognized as a partner in the business the less likely he will want to ditch her after his success because his success is her success too,” advises Sanders.

And if that isn’t enough insurance, check the law in your state to find out about spousal rights to startups.  Your spouse is your first investor, regardless of their role, reports the Financial Post. If necessary, draw up a legal document with your husband prior to his starting the venture, laying out your interest in the company.

“Wives should be the number one beneficiary of all success obtained by their husbands. Any person who financially invests in another person’s venture, company, or dream deserves a return on that investment,” Pettiford sums up.

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