Happy Monday! With Valentine’s Day just a few days away, I wanted to share some insight into working with your partner.
(I know you may not be married or in a heterosexual relationship, but for the purposes of this email, I’m sharing my takeaways from my own marriage with James so I’ll be writing from that perspective. This can be applied to any type of relationship though. And even if you don’t currently work with your husband, as a driven, ambitious woman, there are plenty of times where it can feel like he doesn’t get you so please keep reading as this message is for you too.)
Here’s a shot of James and me at The Shard this past weekend…
We look super happy in this photo and we were, but the truth is, it’s not always easy working together and being married.
James and I never planned running a business together. I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but it wasn’t something James had envisioned. So back in 2015 when he left his job and joined IHML, it was quite the adjustment and still is in many ways.
I’m the first to admit that James puts up with a lot.
James describes the experience of being married to and working with me as chasing me up a mountain and when he finally reaches the top, he realizes I’m already headed up the next one.
Maybe just a little exhausting at times…
The other night I was watching the movie Julie and Julia (one of my favorties), and I was noticing how much both of their husbands reminded me of James.
Patient. Kind. Supportive. Loving.
On the flip side…
Having to put up with a crazy person, trusting that the money she just spent (basically the cost of a new car) is going to come back around, being patient as she works all hours from the kitchen table in her pajamas without makeup and some days forgetting to brush her teeth, having to clean up the house because she doesn’t have time to, experiencing meltdowns and someone who is constantly on edge…
You may be able to relate, lovely.
I know I just painted a pretty dark picture and no one may want to join our team again (ha!), but working together is also one of the most rewarding experiences.
Having the flexibility and freedom to travel together, work with the same clients, share a love of personal development which means talking about books we’re reading, going to conferences together, listening to podcast episodes on long car rides, talking about mindset over champagne (yes we do that!) — and the list goes on. It’s one of the biggest blessings.
The highs and the lows are real, and when you’re married to a driven woman, it’s quite an adventure.
So here’s what I’ve learned after working with James for the past few years that I think will support you in your own journey:
1. Don’t make anything wrong. I am who I am and James is who he is, and there’s no right or wrong. The sooner you accept one another and your strengths and weaknesses, the better. In fact, I’ve learned so much about myself in the past few years and that knowledge and acceptance has meant we can both play to our strengths and become happier versions of ourselves. For example, I don’t like to spend more than a few hours at parties, and James wants to be last one to leave. So I leave early. And neither of us make that wrong. and we’re both happier for it.
2. Over-communicate and be brutally honest. In working with a relationship coach for entrepreneurial couples (Marla Mattenson), we learned to share when we need to be on our own, when we want to be together, when we’re feeling triggered by the other person etc. If you’re not being honest, you’re withholding information and that can create a major separation in the company and relationship. Yes, this means I literally had to tell James I resented him at times and share some difficult stuff that I felt guilty for even feeling. But we’re human. You can be honest and still be loving. And for the relationship to thrive, that’s essential.
3. Let him in and delegate. It was really difficult for me to be open to James having a major role in the company. Even when he came on as a Certified High Performance Coach, I had to trust him with the clients I had found and started to build relationships with. That wasn’t easy. But as I learned to let go, things are starting to get easier and in fact, I began to see that there were plenty of things that James was far better at than me. (SURPRISE!) In the beginning, you may be a solopreneur, but you’ll start to see the tasks you definitely should not be doing, and although it may be tricky, as my friend Sarah Kaler says, “You have to let go to grow”.
4. Play to your strengths. The truth is, I want to talk as little as possible and James wants to talk as much as possible. So we’re learning how to best use our strengths within the company and again, not make anything about our personalities wrong. For example with hiring; that’s the last thing I want to do but James loves it and is incredible at interviewing, so that’s now one of his roles and our company is much better for it.
5. Be present. One day (fairly recently), I looked at James and told him he looked really handsome. I said there was something different about him. It had turned out that he had shaved that morning and it had taken me all day to realize the difference. (Now he didn’t have a full beard, but it was a wakeup call nonetheless.) The truth is, sometimes I’m there but I’m not really there. I’m in my head — thinking about the event, the client, the program, the email, the book — all of it is important of course — but I don’t want to miss my current reality or time with James. So I’m actively working on being more present when we’re together.
Although we’re definitely still learning, I think it’s important to share the reality of what this looks like and my biggest takeaways so far.
I promise to continue to be open and honest about our journey as it’s so important to pass along any wisdom we have.