Secrets to Success

Deborah Cole Micek

Making love work

Statistics indicate more and more couples are going into business together every year. Statistics also indicate the number of divorces are increasing every year.

"The number one cause for marital discord, which often leads to divorce, is money," says Frank Lockwood of Kailua-based Lockwood & Associates ALC.

Since business is focused on making the numbers work, you can see the sad predictions on what happens when couples go into business together.

Distinctly different roles are required when you're juggling career and marital responsibilities. After a long day at work dealing with executive after executive at the casino he was managing, Donald Trump reflected on his first marriage to Ivana Trump, who was in complete control of the Taj Mahal, "It was like coming home to have yet another two-hour meeting with the CEO of another company."

Knowing these challenges involved with going into business with your spouse, what can you do to prevent marital strife and difficulties in your business if you're married to your boss?

Coaching corner

Here are the agreements my partner and I developed with our own coach when we decided to go into business together, committed to making both our business and marriage a success simultaneously.

>> Try not to take things personally. And treat your spouse with the same high level of respect you would give to anyone else in business.

>> Be objective. Keep personal emotions out of business interactions.

>> When you disagree on an issue, understand it's not about you, it's about what the other person believes is best for the business.

>> Have separate days and times when just the two of you get together away from the work environment and connect on a personal level.

>> Reserve neutral territory in your home. This is an area of your home where you never talk about business. 

>> Take a battery of communication and behavior based assessments. Share your reports with your spouse.

This will be equivalent to having a computer manual all about yourself, and another unique one all about your partner. This is the secret advantage for couples who take the time to do this. We've met with couple after couple who decided not to divorce after they worked with us as their coach to complete these assessments and develop a plan of action to succeed.

>> Divide responsibilities according to your individual strengths, interests and skills. You'll be able to derive most of this objectively using your assessment reports.

>> Consult with your coach to intervene when things come to a stand off.

>> Mix business with pleasure as often as possible.

Create your own list of agreements with your spouse/partner. When your marriage is going well, your business has a better chance of succeeding. When you're happier and healthier on a personal level, you'll have more energy to focus on the most important things in your business.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

John-Paul Micek is a small-business strategist
and chief operating officer at RPM Success Group.
Reach him at
or toll-free at (888) 334-8151.

Deborah Cole Micek, chief executive officer
of RPM Success Group, is a business success coach
and life strategist. Reach her at
or (888) 334-8151.


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