To tell you the truth, I really don’t know AND I don’t believe that divorce statistics are compiled according to profession. However, since Inc. Magazine did publish an article on Why So Many Entrepreneurs Get Divorced I felt that this was an issue I should examine.
It is especially relevant to the “Men After Fifty” population that reads my articles, as a much higher percent of my readers are entrepreneurs and I network with many of them. Before I give you my own thoughts about entrepreneur divorce, let me summarize the Inc. article.
Basically, it states that the entrepreneur personality is one of “me” and what “I” can create, which is different than the “us” of marriage and co-creation of a partnership. The entrepreneur puts most if not all of their energy into their “baby”, their business and there is little left for the spouse or partner. In addition, the nature of the business is higher risk and the emotional and economic pressures of this put greater stress on the relationship.
From my perspective of knowing personally and working professionally with a large number of entrepreneurs, I would agree with the assessment of the Inc. article. Now let me add my own two cents and suggestions for keeping your own entrepreneur divorce rate low and your relationship satisfaction high.
I’ve worked with many successful entrepreneurs and business people over my twenty years as a psychotherapist and have helped many of them with their issues. First of all, the entrepreneur generally is a person who is highly motivated, highly creative, highly focused able to delay gratification and VERY willing to risk for what they believe in. Some are addicted to the adrenaline rush of creation, of business deals, of living on the edge. They live to go into “battle” for their business.
While these can be wonderful qualities, they definitely can put a strain on a relationship. Those of you who have read my previous posts know that I believe that psychologically we are often attracted to a partner who has complementary qualities from ourselves. So generally, the partner/spouse of the entrepreneur often is more interested in security than risk, and wants serenity more than excitement/drama and this is quite challenging for the two of them.
As the entrepreneur focuses everything on their latest project, their latest product launch, they are working literally ’round the clock and often lose focus of their loving partner and family. If they are just starting out, often they are living from savings, from loans and from their spouse’s income. Cash flow is tight or nonexistent. Free time is a luxury that isn’t allowed. The financial strain can be enormous.
The entrepreneur partner will often say, “We just need to get through this launch and then we can go on a date, go on a vacation, fill-in-the blank.” “Just a little longer, be patient, our ship will come in.”
The emotional strain of accumulating massive debt and potentially risking the house, the children’s college fund, etc. can be huge. And there is sometimes a physical health risk as well, as the focus is on the business and not on self-care.
Sometimes, there is so much time and energy spent on the business, that the entrepreneur can only bond with business partners and co-workers. They feel like only those battling with them “shoulder-to-shoulder” can relate. This is when affairs with co-workers can take place in the heat of the moment, which puts the relationship AND the business at risk.
And then there is the very real issue of societal role reversal, where the woman is the entrepreneur and the male partner is feeling ignored. Whether we like to admit it or not, very few men have the ego strength to tolerate a partner who is more focused on business then on them. And very few men are able to cope with a partner who is more successful and earns more money than they do. Unfortunate, but true and definitely beyond the scope of this article.
To be honest, the “skill set” required to be a successful business person is truly antithetical to the qualities required to be successful in an intimate relationship. Therefore, I’m not surprised that truly successful entrepreneurs have big challenges in relationship. It’s NOT hopeless though!
In my work I use the metaphor of the relationship as a “garden” with these couples. We need to care for the garden. We need to water it. We need to fertilize it. We need to weed it.
And if the only focus for months/years is one patch of garden, the business garden, then the rest of the garden will be overgrown, diseased and may ultimately die. Sometimes couples get this metaphor and make some changes. Sometimes they are unable or unwilling to do so.
Unfortunately, as a couples counselor, I can only “lead the horse to water” the drinking is their choice. My recommendation to all of my readers (and we are ALL entrepreneurs on some level) is to WEED YOUR GARDEN! Don’t take your relationship for granted, don’t assume you have all the time in the world to repair what’s being done or what isn’t being done.
Let’s do what we can to keep entrepreneur divorce rate down! Let’s prove that we can be successful in business AND in relationship.
Dr. Adam Sheck
If you’d like to know more about keeping your relationship alive and vital and keep entrepreneur divorce rate low, download my Free Special Report, “20 Rituals For Romance!” at http://freepassiontips.com