Seth and I never really fought to begin with. So, this isn’t a story about overcoming a terrible marriage to find balance. It’s also not a story about how promotional products improved our lives. But, we did find balance. We found a flow that worked for us, helped us grow a business and live happier lives.
When we got together, we were already adults. Not that we were fully set in our own ways, we really were open to being in a relationship with each other…and all that comes with that, but we each had established patterns of behavior that didn’t include each other. For example, I tend to fend for myself when it comes to breakfast, lunch and snacks and the occasional hot tea. He would speak up and, frankly surprise me with a comment about how it felt like I wasn’t considering him when I’d make myself an omelette for breakfast…as he sat there with his cold sliced apple and almond butter, looking thoroughly dejected. Here I thought I was being self sufficient, and never thought that this would bother him. He also didn’t want a tv in the bedroom, but I had grown accustomed to falling asleep by the sound of Jon Stewart/Jimmy Fallon/whoever was on at whatever time I decided to go to bed. And, then there were parenting differences. We’d have arguments about my belief that our daughter should have more downtime at home, he’d protest. One summer, we went camping 6 times (once out of state) and all three of us were crying for joy by the time the school year came back around as I fought back the desire to “I told you so” the whole situation.
Again, not the stuff of a truly conflicted marriage. But, going into business together was the best decision we could have made together. Not only was everything brought to the surface, our personal and business spending habits, our ability to communicate, our schedules and skill sets were fully exposed and we began to rely on what we saw in each other. When our bank accounts were open for not only us to see, but a half dozen other people, it gave us a reality check about how and on what we spend money. It exposed our ambitions, our laziness and how we truly managed our time and effort…things I never thought a bank account could represent. There no longer was a me or a him, but an us that supported employees, contractors and clients on top of our own household. My “faults” (or so I saw them in my mind) just became my weaknesses that either needed me to work on or to wholly pass off to someone whose strengths could create a success in the company in ways that I couldn’t. Seth and I began to see each other, and importantly, respect each other for the things we brought to our relationship, our home and our business.
In the morning, since I don’t get out of bed till I’ve had a full hour to adjust to the fact that it’s morning, he plays with our daughter. He gets up, makes coffee and breakfast and they enjoy some quality one-on-one time. This is never a problem for us. We know that having the ability to think and walk so early each day are his strengths and they are important for our household. He also knows that my downtime allows me to really prepare for the types of interactions that are his weaknesses. Thinking about how to best help our daughter deal with bullies or being clear on expectations with an employee are my strengths. There’s rarely a time when there is negative judgement passed about each others’ actions. I don’t resent him for not seeing the pile of recycling by the back door that he stepped over twice or planning on an adventure in Seattle when our daughter is struggling in math, things that prior to our working relationship bothered me. Now, I see that deep diving into the social drama of a 2nd grade girl and monotonous tasks related to household chores would detract from the skills I need from him. I need him to be freely creative, to be ambitious and career driven. He’s my number one salesperson because all our clients know how valuable his strengths are.
I believe that in doing what I can for myself and the world, and being truly honest about what I can do is what creates harmony. It reduces resentments and boosts the strengths of my team and partnership while letting me focus on my own strengths. And, together, we were able to find this balance in the building of our business…and our life together.