I still remember running the 10-mile loop around Lake Austin 12 years ago with this cute guy I was just getting to know. I remember the exact section of trail we were on (crossing the Mopac bridge) when I threw out the typical “so what do you do?” question.
He was an entrepreneur. I didn’t really know what that meant. At the time, owning a business didn’t carry the cool-factor awe that it does now. He explained it like this: I love to build and create. At the time, I didn’t realize the depth of that statement – how it described a core part of his being, an innate God-wired trait, and that it influenced the way he viewed the world around him. .
As our relationship progressed into marriage-potential, this little small town sorority girl whose parents were still paying her gas and cell phone bill had the tiniest inkling of a fear:
Can this guy actually take care of me?
The answer was YES, of course. But it’s been a long journey in learning to trust and respect how God made him. In short, here are 5 lessons I’ve learned in 11 years of marriage to an entrepreneur:
- He needs my full support. In the first year of marriage, he was traveling Mon-Thurs every week. We didn’t have kids at the time but I was a newly wed and well, I was ready to fully ENJOY my sweet little role as wife. When he came home exhausted every weekend, I was a little bit annoyed. It was not a healthy pace for him or for us long-term but looking back, I wish I would’ve told myself: this won’t be forever and instead of building resentment towards, trying to create a safe refuge for him to come home to.
- He needs my buy-in. This is a big one. When you are married to an entrepreneur, the following questions are usually lingering in the recesses of your mind: Can he do this? Will he make enough to provide for our family? What happens if this fails? For the first few years of marriage, I constantly wanted to know the numbers and figure out whether or not his business was going to make it. I would ask: How much more do you need to make to be profitable? How much money can we live on? What if this doesn’t work? What’s your back-up? The poor guy was being interviewed every night he came home after a long day at the office. I playing the role of a venture capitalist, trying to decide if this guy could really do what his business plan said he would do. How must he have felt when his own wife didn’t fully buy into his business? What I wished I’d told myself then: Trust him. Encourage him. If he fails, let him fail. He is a smart guy with tons of talent. He will figure it out. God is bigger than that. Trust God with your husband and your future.
- He needs me to enter into his world. One of the worst comments I made happened one night when he came home very discouraged. He’d lost a couple of big clients and had to fire several employees all within the same week. To put it lightly, he was stressed. Sadly, instead of trying to understand and empathize with what he was feeling, I made it about me, frustrated that once again, he was stressed. He was alwaaays stressed.That night I made the mistake of getting into a heated discussion with him and said the following: If this business is so stressful, why don’t you just quit your job and go work for some big company? You could be making twice as much as you’re making now. That is a death sentence for an entrepreneur. What I learned later, by making that statement, I was cutting at his heart, the core of his very being. Because it wasn’t about the money for him. I mean, sure, he needed money to pay his employees’ salaries, office rent, travel expenses, etc. But it wasn’t about getting rich and famous. It was about building something out of nothing, creating a company from the ground up and ideally, providing a service that would help others. But it took me years to understand that. I never said it again, but I often thought it.
- He needs me to trust and and encourage, not question and criticize. After a few years of trying to figure out how much money he was actually making (profit vs. revenue) and whether or not he would actually throw in the towel if it came time, he began to share less and less about work. He kept it vague. He didn’t want to go there. Who wants to have to prove themselves to their own wife? Eventually, I understood. I began to ask questions about his employees, his meetings, and his business trips. I started to actually try and understand his business and what he was trying to build and who his competition was and how he hoped to grow. I actually, for the first time, became passionate about what he did because I knew he was passionate about it. This was a HUGE step for me and a key factor in drawing us closer together in marriage.
- He needs me to complement him. This is a quite recent discovery and one that did not happen by choice, but by necessity. If you’ve read other posts of mine, you know that I went through a very dark season of crippling depression and anxiety that lasted about 3 years. I was barely functioning. My husband had to cut back significantly at work to stay home and help with the kids and take care of me. It was a very humbling and embarrassing situation for me. But listen to what God did in the midst of it! As I began to heal, I knew I needed an outlet, something where I could use my natural gifts that would give me a sense of purpose and take my mind off myself (the kids were now in full-time daycare and I had no job, so I felt a little lost). I am a writer by nature, so my husband suggested that I write for his company. I pooh-poohed the idea at first, but then, I realized there weren’t that many other options, so I agreed. Working for him has opened a door into his heart because I am entering his world, a place where he spends a huge chunk of his time and energy. Suddenly, all the people who work for him have faces. Suddenly, I started to understand the ins and outs of the company. I became a part of his content team and learning all kinds of amazing new skills for writing web content. It was truly a blessing in disguise, a gift of beauty that came out of a very broken time for me.
I learned, in short, that God created marriage for a reason. We are meant to work as a team, to serve and help one another walk through life together. And sometimes, one of us will carry a heavier load for awhile, sometimes with no end in sight. Marriage allows us to sharpen one another, encourage one another and be there for each other in the hardest of times. I now take ownership in his business. I care about the people who work for him. I know their stories. I pray for them. I pray for him. For his meetings with current clients and prospective clients. For his presentations. For his business trips. For his company strategies and goals. And let me tell you – it has been one of the BEST things that has happened in our marriage. Now, more than ever before, we are a TEAM. And that, I believe, is very much a part of what God intended it to be. A partnership built on love, commitment, encouragement and grace.