The Entrepreneur’s Spouse

Be patient – because if you happen to be married to an entrepreneur, you have the power to make or break his ambitions.

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It seems that the current trend is to get into business, or a more highly (ab)used word – entrepreneurship.

While Facebook groups are formed, articles are written and videos are made to promote and encourage people to live the life of an entrepreneur (which I think, isn’t for everyone, therefore I personally do not promote it), much is not said or appreciated or written about the people who are having the first hand encounter with these real life, hard core, tooth and nail, success-hungry, empire-building individuals. Shave off all that glam, and the bragging rights that comes with the success which these entrepreneurship – tell you what – shave off the entire year leading up to the entrepreneurs’ success, and this is what you’ll see.

The entrepreneur who enters this journey open-eyed knowing what to expect, especially the experienced one, will strip down their entire life in preparation for this long and arduous journey. They will, get rid of all their liabilities, ensure that they’ve got close to zero monthly payments, unless absolutely unavoidable, they will wear the same shoes and clothes almost every day, and they couldn’t care less about food – it is merely a fuel to keep them going. In fact, some of them don’t care for anything else, including what’s on TV, when’s the next soccer match, what’s in the movies or even who’s at home. They will work 7 days a week if they can, more than 10 hours a day. If you can’t find them anywhere, they are most likely in their office (or home office) working. And, they likely will also not have hobbies (you know, the things you do for fun?) – their business is their hobby. Most of the time, they walk the streets with no money in their pockets because they know the value of it, and want to prevent excessive spending.

So what happens if you happen to be married to one of these folks?

 

My advice, is to be patient, very very patient – because if you happen to be married to one of them, you have the power to make or break his ambitions, or the empire that s/he is building.

As I write this post, my husband is sleeping soundly beside me. Many nights and mornings are like this, when I stay awake after accompanying him to sleep, so that I can finish that last bit of video editing, or writing, or replying those emails from my clients.  And when he gets up for work and kisses me before he leaves, I will take a nap for another hour or two, before I make my 20-minute journey to the office to settle other affairs of the office for the day.

 

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There’s a bad side to entrepreneurs too.

 

I don’t normally make it home by 6pm or 7pm to prepare dinner. Perhaps I manage to make that cut only twice a week. When I do, I’ll have dinner hot and ready by the time husband reaches home. But, on the very often occasions that I don’t, my husband will buy dinner for the both of us, and meet me at home — or meet me at the office. We’ll have our meal together, he will do his maghrib (and sometimes isya’) while I finish up my work, and then we’ll head home together when I’m done. That could be either 9 or 10pm, and sometimes, that’s 1am in the morning on those really busy days leading up to an event. He’s already tired from his work, and yet, he will stay up with me, before going home and resting.

The formative years of the entrepreneurs’ business will not necessarily bring enough return – so we will do something on the side for the regular income stream that we need. In my case, I do take up ad-hoc training assignments, and tuition – thus this takes up my weekend mornings. Weekend afternoons on the other hand, are spent in the office finishing up back log (I don’t think the backlog crisis will last any longer though).

In support of my pursuit, my very patient husband will then pick up the slack, wherever I’m lacking. Within the 4 weeks of a month, likely, half of the time, he will be folding the clothes, and doing the laundry. Scratch that. He has now taken over the laundry duties entirely. I will try my best to make time to iron his work clothes for him, but sometimes, he beats me to it too.

If a friend screwed me over, or a client defaults, or I just had a really really bad day, sometimes I come home with a vengeance. I think, a few times, I must have taken it out on him without even realising it. But husband rarely fights back, he’ll just keep quiet. On good days,  he may even just hug me.

We often have to do the dishes after everyone in the house because well, my mom has to care for my granddad, and that’s enough for her. Since I’ve been doing household chores since young, i can announce with great clarity, about how much I hate doing the dishes. So one day, we decided to do the dishes together – he will scrub and I will rinse. Having another pair of hands in the kitchen with me does help ease the load and make chores more bearable. Sometimes, it could even be fun, when we start talking and joking around while cleaning up the kitchen. This morning though, when I came to the sink to help him, he proclaimed, “I can do this myself. This is a man’s job. You can clean the stove, and the rest of the kitchen”. Now, for this to happen, I must say my husband has come a long way. Why? Well, because he’s been raised with maids all around him – chores don’t exactly come naturally.

 

I know I’m painting a really pretty picture. I think it’s enough to say that the picture wasn’t always so pretty.

 

For some couples, it would be easier to just do the business with your spouse. Then both of you would be in the same boat, and will understand each other really well. This would allow for less arguments and misunderstandings – and basically, more time together. But what if your spouse has no interest in running a business and has his own ambitions in the career track? Well, that means that your spouse can pursue his ambitions while supporting you, and vice versa. Regular employment also means that your spouse will be endowed with some benefits that will benefit both of you, so appreciate that too.

While we, entrepreneurs pursue our life’s mission with all our hard-headedness and grit and all the strength that we have, it may be hard for us to understand that the people around us don’t show strength, determination, patience and fight like we do. They do it their own way. We may not speak in the same vocabulary as them, and it can be very very frustrating. A lot of the time, this can be the cause of your arguments.

And when it happens, just shut up. Tell your spouse to shut up too. Give him a book, and tell him to read. And, if it gets really bad, then well.. write an article like this to tell him how much you love him and appreciate him for all that he has done for you.

Then give him some food. Boys always love it when they are fed.

 

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