Thursday Jun 01, 2023

Significant Others + Business = ?

One question I get on a regular basis:

Is your husband supportive of you working from home?

The short answer is yes.

Generally, the follow up to that question:

Has he always been supportive of it?

Boundaries from the Beginning

When Bull and I first started dating, I did not work from home. I worked for a heat and air company as an office manager. This was right before I started teaching at a technical college. Just an FYI that Bull and I were friends and got to know each other for several months before anything every happened between the two of us, but that’s a story for some other time.

Anyway, one of our mutual interests was (and is) writing. Of course, back then (2012), I hadn’t really even thought about writing as a profession being much more than a pipe dream. I had my novel. I liked writing. He knew I was published. He knew I wanted to publish more.

In addition to working for the HVAC business, I had a small bankruptcy prep business. I had a lot of connections with Trustees from my previous work as a Bankruptcy Analyst. The dream (at that time) was to be a virtual paralegal.

We talked about different aspects of being in a relationship. We both have children with someone else. We didn’t live together. I’m a fairly open person when I know someone. I told him he could have input in every area but two: my children (they were teenagers and they didn’t need anyone trying to step in) and my business. With my business, he could have an opinion when I talked about things. Everyone is entitled to their opinion…and you never know where that next new idea might come from, you know? But as far as actual decision making? No.

Moving Forward to Professional Writing

We moved in together right after we got engaged. I already had an apartment. He moved in with me before we found a bigger place. I taught college and also picked up part time real estate paralegal work (titles, abstracts, federal land, etc). And then I started looking into how to get started as a professional writer.

We talked about it, but not in great detail. He knew I wasn’t just going to up and quit my jobs until I could make that amount of money. I actually dropped teaching first (they weren’t paying me to teach legal classes anywhere near what they paid any of the general education teachers or the previous instructor AND program manager, roles I fulfilled) and starting building my business while still working in the law firm.

It was a small office. The two lawyers knew what I was doing. They didn’t care as long as I did what I needed to do there. Bull and I discussed parameters surrounding when I would stop at the firm and what that would mean…

I stopped working for the firm for two reason: stress was making AFib worse (between the ex and one of the lawyers who had a personality very similar to the ex) and because I was turning down so much work from platforms and potential clients that I was LOSING money. No bueno.

When I created my business, it had the same basic rule as the last one: we can talk about stuff…especially since we’re married, and you are certainly entitled to your opinion. He tried freelancing for a while, too. He worked some with me. He found a couple of his own clients. He learned pretty quick it wasn’t for him, but he also recognized that it is a real job.

What Should You Do If You Don’t Have a Supportive Significant Other?

First, you have to recognize that everyone is entitled to their opinions and feelings. If you’re just now dating someone and you work and you’re building a business, you need some clear boundaries about, “This is what I do and it is mine.”

If you ask for an opinion or advice, don’t get pissed off if you hear something you don’t like.

Second, stand firm, but don’t be a dick. If someone starts berating you and gets abusive, leave. Get out of the relationship. That person has probably always been that way toward you and you’ve made excuses for it. And now that you want to follow your dreams, it’s a threat to their position of power in your life. So snatch back your power and GTFO.

So, what about if you’re married and you’re just now starting a business? If they are abusive, leave. If they are unsure or just don’t seem to care, that’s fine. You do you, but don’t make them (or your family) play second fiddle. You’d be all kinds of upset if they did that to you.

I started working from home for more money, physical security, and to be home with the now almost 10 year old. Daycare / before school / after school care is no place for a child who is non-verbal. I have very strong opinions about daycare and I know you don’t want to hear them so I will spare you there.

Usually, when people talk about starting or having a business, they think about freedom…but then they end up so wrapped up in it (because it is a lot of work regardless of the type of business) they get miserable and they make their family miserable…and if their SO or family wants their attention? It’s WW III. Don’t do that. Set times you can and will work. Stick to it. And if you’re a “freedom” and “more time with the family,” those are your highest values. If you don’t live up to them, you will become miserable and quit.

If you don’t have a support SO and they aren’t abusive, examine what you’re doing. Decide if it is taking away from them. Decide if it is taking away from your family. Those are things YOU can fix by readjusting how YOU operate. Decide if it is really what you want to do. Decide if it really makes you happy. And…keep building. Generally as your happiness improves and your SO can see it isn’t a money-sink (and most businesses do cost money to build during the first few years, but you don’t have to be stupid about it or take out loans in most cases), they either learn to better tolerate it or they become more supportive.

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