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Keeping the Marriage Healthy when Working from Home


When I was running my design business from home several years ago, I was a much different person (read: depressed, angry, blaming and constantly unable to get myself to take action on things). My husband was also a very different person (read: I’m not about to bash him now after all of the amazing growth he has achieved in the last 3 years!).

Sure, we still have our disagreements and annoyances. I don’t normally write about this stuff, but upon reading Of Fish and Family today, I reflected on the side of my life that gets little attention in my writings, my hubby. I swear Margo must be married to my husband’s twin. (How DO they go to the store and come home with so much crap, Margo?! I just don’t get it!!) ;)

But back to my story. When my husband and I were living our lives at our not-so-best selves, we had a one fight that ALWAYS turned into big blowouts. Money.

Now I know we are the ONLY couple on the planet with these issues, so just bear with me (ha!).

The fight never started the same, but once one of us ‘went there’, it always ended the same. With us not talking for days, sometimes.

He HATED the fact that I was home all of the time, and didn’t have a “real job”. But the way he dug it in deeper was to consistently point out that the house was messy pretty much all of the time, and why the heck couldn’t I actually get up off my butt and take care of this stuff?

I HATED the fact that he was (and still is!) one of the most talented sales people I have ever met, yet when my company was hitting hard times, he wasn’t stepping up and consistently making the numbers he needed to cover our expenses. And how dare he think I was slacking off? I was working 16 hour days trying to recover my business!! Would he say this to me if I was working outside of the house 16 hours a day?

The truth of the matter was, we were both right, and both wrong.

My 16 hour days were a lot of surfing and chat-room hopping. And I didn’t believe in myself in any way shape or form, so I was sabotaging all of my business efforts so that my income dipped well below $10K a year. And yeah, the house really was a mess.

The stress of mounting debt, a depressed wife, a ’surprise’ third baby, and constant fighting were taking their toll on my husband’s own self esteem. His motivation started spiraling out of control, and he started finding ways to make himself feel important again:: at great costs.

[Holy shit I am crying while I am writing this!! I haven’t thought about this stuff for so long, and never from the healthy perspective I am able to use today! What a sad time in our lives!!]

The solution is more of a book than a blog post. But here are some key distinctions from my work at home journey:

  1. Don’t try to start or run a home based business if you have a lot of personal challenges that need to be addressed. Really  - I’m saying this (as in, hand over my heart saying this)… TAKE CARE OF YOU FIRST. You can’t take care of your family, your marriage, or let alone a business, if you are in your own way. Take a few months to get your head on straight. See a coach or a counselor. Trust me, it’s the BEST investment you can make in your business.
  2. Own it when you mess up. I was blaming the economy, my husband, and even my own emotions for ‘causing me to get off track’. Doesn’t work that way. It’s a tough pill to swallow at times, but our life is a choice. If it’s a mess, our choices have led us there. No need to be mad at yourself or feel even more guilty about it. It’s just time to start making better choices.
  3. Your marriage problems are not about what you aren’t getting. It’s about what you aren’t giving. That goes for him (or her!) too, just in case you were wondering. I know you do things all of the time that show your spouse that you love them - in YOUR way. But have you ever asked THEM what has to happen in order for THEM to feel loved? I can wager that you haven’t (most people haven’t). And if (and hopefully when) you do, I think you will be surprised at the answers you will get.

Lastly, the way that I ensure I never, ever go back to the person I was in 2003 is by doing the following:

  1. I take time to meditate connect with myself daily. My happiness is one of my highest priorities.
  2. I put fun things on my list to do - and if I don’t do them, my leverage is induced just like it is when the not-so-fun things aren’t done.
  3. I make sure my husband and I get alone time every week. Mandatory.
  4. I know what has to happen in order for my husband to feel loved, because I have asked him. I make it a priority to do those things. A lot.
  5. I listen to my ‘inner wisdom’ and follow it no matter what - even when it is super scary and I don’t know what the hell I am doing. It always leads me in the right direction.
  6. Whenever my husband and I are not getting along, I ask myself “What can I GIVE to this situation RIGHT NOW that will make our relationship stronger?”. With such a powerful question, I inevitably get powerful answers!
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    On August 10th, 2006 at 10:38 am, Margo said:

    What an incredibly important topic, and such good advice. I’d only add that once you make the (hopefully joint) decision to work from home, you make sure that your husband understands that it IS real job in every way, and deserves the same respect as an out-of-the-house one, EVEN when business isn’t going well.
    You might have to remind him from time to time, but establishing that understanding levels the playing field a bit, and you can strategize on improving things together.

    On August 13th, 2006 at 8:45 am, Lisa Roberson said:

    Thank you so much, Wendy - what an awesome post!

    ‘I’ was crying while reading it! I would say I needed to read it - wouldn’t you?

    Thank you!!!

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