Aug. 20, 2021

How to support your non-entrepreneurial spouse

How to support your non-entrepreneurial spouse

💯💯💯 "My obligation is to be straight with my partner. This is how you develop trust. If you hold things back from your partner, and you mess up, you're not getting that trust back very easily. mistakes can be forgiven much easier when you're upfront about how your business is currently doing"

EP 34:  Being entrepreneurial in spirit comes with its fair share of anxiety, failure, and struggle, but it might just be easier to be the entrepreneur than to be the person standing beside the entrepreneur.  In this episode, I'll discuss the principles that have helped my marriage withstand the speedbumps of self-employment.

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Michael Der  0:02  
You're listening to Artrepreneurs, a podcast that inspires photographers and visual artists to live their best creative lives. My name is Michael Der and I am a full time photographer with nearly 10 years of experience in the freelancing world. And I'm sitting down with an amazing community of visual artists to talk about process, business, and the lessons that have helped them grow. So let's get to it. Artrepreneurs starts right now.

All right, what is up everybody? Welcome back to the show. We are on episode 34 of Artrepreneurs just a little past halfway point of season one. So thank you for joining me and taking a few minutes out of your day to listen to this content. Now today, I'm going to be taking a break from contract talking business strategies, which I'm very thankful for because even I, someone who loves learning about the nuances of this business, can't talk about it all the time. And sometimes I have to remind myself that this show was never actually intended to be solely about business. It's about inspiring you to live your best creative lives. And with that, invariably, your personal professional lives will intertwine. So how you live your personal life will impact your professional one, how you operate, your professional life will bleed over to your personal one. So with these factors being so reliant and synergistic with one another, I believe we should be investigating all walks of self improvement, or at the very least self assessment to max out our prosperity in both love and in commerce. 

Now, like I do with many of my episodes, I am going to disclaim upfront that I am not an expert in this field. And in this case, today, I'm talking about marriage. I know every relationship has its own unique dynamics, and I am certainly no family therapist, I am no clinical psychologist, I am no relationship expert, I will not be using a case study where I've interviewed 1000s of couples, asking them what works and what doesn't. All I'm doing today is simply providing you a glimpse into my life and how my wife and I have worked through this process these past seven years where I've built my freelancing business, because at its core folks, that's what this is. It's a process a collaborative process, not only in the forming and developing of your business, but learning how to support each other emotionally through that development. 

So for those of you listening to this show, you likely fall under one of the following categories of professional you're either a part time freelancer, a full time freelancer, a solopreneur, and entrepreneur or any form of an aspiring self employed professional that I have not listed, which one you are specifically doesn't really matter. I'm just gonna use the term entrepreneur and entrepreneurial throughout this episode to embody the spirit of what you do. So if you technically are more of a freelancer that works paycheck to paycheck, that's totally fine. We're basically splitting hairs here, you have the soul of an entrepreneur, even if you don't have the business of one yet. The point is, you don't want to be an employee anymore. And when you make that transition, it's a learning curve for both you and your spouse. 

And if you google this topic, chances are you're gonna find many articles on how to support your entrepreneurial husband or wife. But very few, if any articles on how to support your non entrepreneurial husband or wife. So in this episode, I want to flip that script and give you my two cents on how to support the person supporting you. If your husband, wife, life partner, whatever it might be, is non entrepreneurial. I believe they need our support more than we need theirs. Now, is it scary to go off on your own and build your own business? That is unproven? Of course, it is. Absolutely, it's terrifying. But in my opinion, it is easier to be the entrepreneur than to be the person standing by the entrepreneur. And here's why I say that. When you are a first time entrepreneur, you are basically following a lot of instincts, you're following your gut, you don't have you experienced yet, so you're doing what basically feels right. And what feels right to you is hard to articulate to somebody else, you might have a vague vision of what you want to do, right, you may not know how to do it yet, but in your head, you know what you're trying to do. So for instance, you might have ideas of building up an email list, creating lead magnets branding yourself with a YouTube channel or a podcast, thinking of ways to sell your product or service online, you sort of know who your demographic is, but you haven't tested it yet. You might know which clients you want to chase, but you don't know if that interest is reciprocal. So all these little things going through your head are pulling you in a direction, but without any real blueprints. So the person that you share your life with might as well be in the dark, because all they're hearing are a bunch of ideas with no concrete plan, which let's be honest, is sort of a hard sell if that person relies on your ability to bring in finances for the family. And even if you do have a plan, if you're smart enough to have all your ducks lined in a row before you launch, it's still a leap of faith for your partner. Because at this point, it's all theory. Sure you could make month's rent, or you could not, it's not yet proven, it's not yet tested. 

So we need to build trust, we need to build faith, we need to build confidence in our partner that we are on the right path that this isn't some sort of youthful experiment or midlife crisis that we're toying around with. So Aside from the obvious of just being great at your craft, today, I'm going to go over a few principles that I practice to improve the trust building between my wife and I, when it comes to the direction of my business. 

The first one is acknowledgement. acknowledgement goes a long way and you might be asking who or what am i acknowledging, and I believe it's twofold. First, I'm acknowledging my partner's emotions, positive or negative, logical OR illogical. It doesn't really matter. The point is, her emotions are there, they're real and by acknowledging them, I'm acknowledging how important she is in this journey. And this is Really notably important when the emotions aren't positive towards you. For instance, the first time you tell your life partner that you're thinking about quitting your job, don't be surprised if they're going to be greater feelings of concern over excitement. When you tell your partner that you turn down $1,000 job because you felt you were worth 3000 there may be some feelings there. And if you don't have a job or assignment for a couple of weeks, there may be a downshift in the overall mood of your house. And guess what they are all justified. As this episode launches, I am on a flight to Hawaii for a weekend job. Believe you me no matter how much my partner loves me, there may be some mixed feelings about me being on the islands and her being in the office. So as someone who is hypersensitive to when someone who's feeling frustrated, resentful let down envious, abandoned, or any number of emotions that might arise, the least of which I can do is acknowledge that those emotions exist, and that it's okay that they do to not do so would be insulting to your partner that this is somehow their problem and not yours. So I have actually told my wife even Well, before we were married, it's okay to be scared. It's okay to be frustrated. It's okay if you resent me from time to time, and I assured her that she does not have to feel guilty that any of these emotions come up. And when you acknowledge your partner, not only do they feel heard and appreciated, the added benefit is really that you put yourself in a better frame of mind to withstand any potential frustration without being defensive about it. 

The second element in acknowledgment are the numerous contributions your partner brings to the table. So whether it's financial support, intellectual support, emotional support, or creative support, it all adds up. Anything that you are weakened if your partner makes up for acknowledge that contribution. For instance, it takes me forever to understand the insurance plans that we have, whether it's car insurance, health insurance, life insurance, whatever our policies drive me nuts, what might take me an hour to digest my wife might grasp in 10 minutes. So it's really important for me to rely on her to educate and remind me on what our deductibles are, what our premiums are, what our policy looks like. When I ran my business into large amounts of debt A few years ago, she was out there making sound financial choices that would have otherwise platooned our family goals had she treated her lifestyle the way I did mine. 

Another contribution that can't be neglected are the sacrifices your partner makes the lifestyle of an entrepreneur or a freelancer sometimes means that you have to cancel personal plans last minute to take a job, your partner isn't always going to be okay with that. And by you chasing your dreams, you may put other things on the backburner that are actually more important to your partner. If I hadn't spent years of freelancing there's a strong chance we'd have greater savings towards our house or vacations. So if you pursue entrepreneurship, remember, that is a lifestyle choice, one that your partner might support, but would never choose for themselves. So acknowledge your partner's emotions, acknowledge their contributions and acknowledge their sacrifice. 

The second principle I tried to practice is communication. It is the core foundation of any strong relationship. And in my opinion, everything should be talked about even if your partner isn't that interested in the nuances of your business, your concerns, your weaknesses, your failures, your intentions, your philosophies, and actions, they all need to be on the table, in my opinion. And if you get the sense that your partner isn't that hands on with your business, just ask them what they do want to be kept in the loop on, there's very little about my business that my wife isn't actually aware of. She may not be cc on email chain, she may not know how I specifically draft my estimates or proposals. But ultimately, she understands everything about my world, because I want her to know she is constantly updated on my schedule on new jobs, canceled jobs, pending bids, pricing strategy, delinquent payments and upcoming expenses. Even if she doesn't ask about it, the more she is kept in the loop, the more she understands our situation. 

I also make it a point to talk to her about money strategy, which I know can be a very hot button topic for couples who are used to his and hers finances. Were not like that we talked about our financial goals, we talked about where we want to contribute most to we talked about how much debt is acceptable and what kind of expenses are coming up. Basically, what we're doing is creating a consistent vision for our money. And while I'm not here to suggest that keeping your income and your expenses separate from each other, is inherently bad, I can just tell you that our openness about our finances has actually improved our comfort level on all things money, like how to spend it, how to save it and how to grow it. And I'll be the first person to tell you that it's not always comfortable. When I first started bringing up money with my partner, it wasn't peaches and cream, it's not always a case of Hey, honey, look how much extra money we have here. It can actually be quite the opposite. But my obligation isn't to sweep these major concern under the rug just to make my spouse happy. I'm sorry, this is real talk. My obligation is to be straight with my partner. This is how you develop trust. If you hold things back from your partner, and you mess up, you're not getting that trust back very easily. mistakes can be forgiven much easier when you're upfront about how your business is currently doing. And I mentioned earlier that your partner may be hands off by nature, they may not really care what you do. But I would still initiate the conversation when it comes to big things in your business. When you have open two way communication. 

Those once contentious points of conversation can become collaborative and connecting strategies for your family growth, which segues nicely into my next principle which is all about collaboration. So it's not just that I communicate with my wife about my business. It's also that I include her in the decision making process. big decisions, particularly in regards to anything financial are often talked through in my house jobs. I plan on declining or talked over expenses. I plan on Making I am discussing before I pull the trigger, have you ever thought to yourself at what point is a purchase warrant telling your spouse is it $500 $1,000 $5,000 isn't none of their business at all. For me, I'm frequently updating my wife on my plans just by talking about it just by keeping her in the loop by asking her for opinion, is not only a sign of respect, but it's also quite simply the smarter thing to do. I've already told you that my wife knows all about my business. She knows the heavy months, she knows the lean months, she knows how deep the savings reservoir is. She knows what could boost the business. Why wouldn't she be consulted, I may have the final say. But sometimes it helps when I'm talked off that ledge. So I want her to voice any potential concerns when it comes to finances. This really goes a long way in building confidence in relationships, because it's not seen as my decision. It's our decision. 

Now, one little caveat here is that I'm, I'm talking a lot about money, I'm talking a lot about finances, I would proceed with a little bit of caution if you are not married, and then you plan on commingling your finances. It's an area that I wouldn't normally recommend for most couples, my wife and I had been sharing income for years before we got married. So I'm not saying that it can't work, I would just advise that you have strong conversations about this before moving forward. 

And so the last principle I'm going to talk to you about today about how to support your non entrepreneurial spouse is to simply be present. It's one of the easiest things to do as a business owner to bring your work home with you. And as much as I keep the conversation free flowing about my business, I know well enough to not let it dominate our conversations or ruin the mood. When I'm off the clock. I try to stay off the clock. When I'm home. I'm home in my body language in my conversations. I'm trying to be present as best as I can to be engaged in her world as much as she is in mind. And I can't say I'm great at it all the time. But that's always the goal. I try to keep the phone down when we're hanging out. I try to ask more questions. I try to listen more. And this isn't gender specific here. It's just sound advice. Everybody wants to feel heard. Everybody wants to be reminded every once in a while that they're just as important as business. So honestly, folks, if you just remember one thing from this entire episode, that could be it right there. Listen, first, respond second, seek first to understand then to be understood, be present with your partner. 

Alright, so that is going to do it for today's episode, folks to review my take on love and commerce is to practice the following principles number one, acknowledgement, acknowledged not only the frustrations that your partner has, but also acknowledge the contributions and the sacrifices they make as they support you and your journey. Number two, communication communicate the strategies and concerns that you have throughout your whole entrepreneurial journey. This to me is the bedrock of your relationship is just open communication. Number three is collaboration, collaborate with your partner and invite them into the decision making process. Not only is it a sign of respect to your partner, but it's also just a smart thing to do if you've already kept an open line of communication. And lastly, number four, be present. It's very simple. do your very best to try to stay engaged. Stay immersed in your partner's world as much as they are in yours. being present is one of the most effective ways to reduce any resentment any frustration that your partner may have. So be sure to pay attention to your partner, listen to what they are telling you discover their love languages and appreciate them every single day. I hope this inspires you to make the first step in creating a more collaborative environment where your personal and your professional lives are enhanced for all involved. I want to thank you all for tuning in. And in the spirit of this episode, I would be remiss if I didn't thank my incredible wife, Dina for always being my greatest champion for always being my biggest fan for being my biggest support system. And for encouraging me during all the dark times that I've had. It is my daily hope my daily ambition that I can provide you as much appreciation and as much support as you have provided me and I will do that until we are old and gray which I already am. but you get the point. I love you baby to the moon and back. And for the rest of you folks, I just want to say thank you for tuning into this episode. We will be back next week after I get home from my time in a wahoo My name is Michael Der I am out here. Mahalo, everyone. Have a great week.

Hey everybody, this is Michael Der thank you so much for making it all the way to the end of the episode. I hope you'll follow tag and engage with us on our Instagram account at Artrepreneurspod. We've also launched our website It is the central hub where you can sign up for our newsletter, read our blog posts, send us voicemails, and even access discounts from our amazing affiliates. It's also the perfect spot to shout out Artrepreneurs with what would be an immensely appreciated five star rating and review. And if you're feeling extra generous, you can even make a small donation that's really going to help accelerate the growth of this podcast. But no matter what you do, folks, I just want to say thank you so much for supporting this program. There are a lot of great photography podcasts out there and I'm just grateful to have gained your trust even for a moment. Take care everyone. See you next week.

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