Relationships, like business, need work. Entrepreneurship and marriage may not seem to match, but you just need to do a little extra to make it work. Jen Du Plessis is joined by entrepreneur and marriage and intimacy expert Monica Tanner in a spirited discussion on relationships between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs. Monica discusses what you need to do to make a relationship successful between a business owner and their partner. Learn the secrets of a happy marriage and great partnership in this episode!
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It Takes Two: Relationship Dynamics In Entrepreneurship And Marriage With Monica Tanner
I am delighted to have to join with us, Monica Tanner. First of all, she’s married to her best friend. She’s a boss mom to four small little humans. She’s a Podcaster. Her podcast is called On the Brighter Side – Marriage for Entrepreneurs. She’s a Relationship and Intimacy Sexpert. The reason why I wanted to have her on the show is that one of the things I know is I used to be what’s called a CDLP, Certified Divorce Lending Professional before I got into full-time speaking, coaching, mentoring and podcasting. Statistically, divorces are at 53% or 58%. They are dropping because people are getting married later. There’s a little lull in the drop and it was filled in with COVID to make it maintain. Monica, we are excited to have you here on the show. Welcome.
Thank you. I’m so glad to be here.
Divorce rates are high. I know that you specialize in marriage for entrepreneurs. I feel that the entrepreneur is married to their business, not to their spouse. That’s what ends up happening. It’s a real struggle. I’m against the word balance because I don’t believe in it. I think you’re 50/50 when you are. What is the biggest challenge and problem that you see with any entrepreneurship when their flashlight is being shown on the business and not on the relationship?
There are a lot of reasons why there is a slightly higher divorce rate for entrepreneurs versus non-entrepreneur marriages. Part of that accounts for two different paces. When you have an entrepreneur, you have someone who is super fast-paced like a dreamer or goal-setter moving at the speed of light and doesn’t stop to explain, “This is the vision. This is the goal” to their partner, which a lot of times happens to be a non-entrepreneurial. They just do life at a different pace. They say that, “Opposites attract,” and that happens a lot for a very good reason.
It’s important for entrepreneurs who are married to non-entrepreneurs to be able to close that gap, especially of understanding and be able to move at a more neutralized speed. The entrepreneur needs to understand the perspective and vice versa. That’s one thing. Another thing you talked about, “Entrepreneurship is a different animal. There’s no clocking in, clocking out.” You’re always, “Once a spouse, always a spouse. Once a parent, always a parent. Once a business owner, always a business owner.” The business doesn’t sleep. It’s important to set those boundaries and guidelines to understand that there are times when we need to prioritize our marriage, family and business.
I’m an entrepreneur, but I’m a little more driven. My husband is a mortgage lender. That’s still entrepreneurship, no matter how you look at it. I was that for many years in the lending space as well. I always look at my left hand and say, “The left hand, which is my marriage, and the right hand, which is I’m trying to get my business right, don’t go together if you try to commingle them.” We’ve worked together for many years and it worked for us. I know it doesn’t work for everybody. In this new arena that I’m in, where I’m a true entrepreneur and not working hand in hand, I realize that I can’t commingle some of the money I spend and the expenses I have in my business.
We’re women. We’ve all bought something and hid it in the trunk of our car because we don’t want our husband to know. I’ve learned that in business, it’s safer for me not to share the fact that I signed on with a new coach or I’m going to spend $10,000 on some marketing campaign. It doesn’t work. It’s one thing to say the speed or the drive because when he says, “How was your day?” I don’t want to tell him because I’m an entrepreneur. Whereas if we were in a different job, “It was good.” How far do we go in allowing for this to overlap without creating problems?Entrepreneurship is a different animal. There’s no clocking in, clocking out. Click To Tweet
These are all interesting dynamics that need to be worked on in your marriage. It’s communication, connection and control. My husband and I own two separate businesses. They couldn’t be more different. Mine is online. His is a brick and mortar service-based business. The way he runs his business is so different than the way I run mine. It takes a lot of communication, understanding and faith in each other. I talk about confidence, communication and connection. You’ve got to build those things up over time with experiences. That’s a matter of learning how to create an environment where there’s trust, communication and connection.
Let’s talk about the communication piece of that specifically and people can get more information about you for the other two. Do we slow down the pace? Do you change yourself? Do you become a chameleon if I’m fast and meticulous and he’s fast and meticulous? Do I purposely have to shut down my office and then purposely go and make sure that he gets attention as much? How do you identify what boundaries that you want to have in your business and need to be doing as a team?
You’ve touched on a lot of little things that I like to talk about. First of all, when you said, “Do I have to drop this or be a chameleon?” I think that one of the biggest traps that couples fall into is this fear of conflict. Conflict in a marriage, having different opinions or ways of doing things is one of the biggest drivers of innovation. I never think that you need to minimize yourself, ideas or ways of doing things in order to keep the peace. That’s a huge danger when you get into marriage. I teach this equation and it’s called Curiosity Plus Vulnerability Equals Creativity. If you’re going to create a marriage and a life together that works for both of you, I never want you to minimize yourself in any way.
What I want you to do is create a lot of curiosity instead of defensiveness or, “My way or the highway.” It’s getting curious about your partner and wondering, “I wonder why you feel so strongly about this. I wonder why you do things this way. Tell me more about your opinion on these issues.” Get curious and be able to get vulnerable as well like, “When you get upset about me spending a whole bunch of money on a coach, it makes me feel like you don’t trust me or you don’t feel like I have a sense of what to do in my own business.” Being able to ask questions, get vulnerable and then create an environment both of trust, understanding, communication and all the things so that both of you can thrive and continue to grow individually and together as a couple. That’s my equation that I teach.
If you lead with curiosity, then they’re naturally going to be more curious too. If I lead with vulnerability, it’s like taking the lead in the relationship so that we can start getting to that creative part. Being vulnerable rather than defensive, that’s important for me because I don’t like that conflict. Let’s dust that under the rug. I don’t even need to tell him that I’m doing something. I’ll just spring it on him and he can’t say anything about it because it’s already done. I’m dealing with that. My marriage is great. I’m being the person that everybody who’s reading is because they’re saying, “I do that,” because it is what we do. What is the very first step other than going, “Let me go ask a bunch of questions to see how their day was because now I’m going to be curious?” Is there a mindset behind this? Is there a result that we’re trying to get to that we need to be thinking about in advance?
It’s realizing that every problem, behavior or maybe the beginning of an argument, there’s always some need or fear underlying that. If my husband comes into my office and he’s like, “You’ve been in here all day. What about our food? What about cooking and cleaning it up? What about the kids? What have you been doing all day?” Understanding that behavior is driven by some need or fear, there’s something underneath that behavior. Those things materialize differently in every relationship. Instead of getting defensive like, “What are you talking about? I’m working my business. This is important too,” if I can stop and go, “There’s a need here,” maybe I can ask some questions and get to the bottom of it. The beginning or first step is understanding that we all show our needs differently. See if you can understand the message underneath the verbal or behavior that’s coming out.
I have to be honest. That’s hard as entrepreneurs because we don’t have time. We don’t pick up on it. Part of it is that we’re ingrained in what we’re doing that it’s hard to increase the awareness and recognize. One thing that I’m grateful for COVID is that it has allowed us to start having conversations or even having eye contact where we didn’t have before. It was like he would come in and say, “Do you want a glass of wine?” “Yes, that sounds good.” I’m not even increasing my awareness and I wonder if there’s a step before that.
One of the things that we did in COVID on the positive side and maybe this could be a strategy, is that we started this 2-foot rule that anytime that we’re within 2 feet of one another, we stop, have a quick kiss and acknowledge each other. That’s what I mean by I’ve probably never looked in his eyes more than I have during COVID. Even in the kitchen, we were like, “Excuse me.” You don’t try to hit each other and wait until they’re done. Now, we go, “We’re 2 feet together. Let’s magnetize that and come together.” I wonder if that’s something we could do, too. I’m visualizing your husband coming to you and going, “You’re still in here and using that time, that physical space to say stop.” That’s the trigger. “I’m still in here. I’m still working on it. What’s wrong? What’s up?”
What’s interesting is that scenario that you said is what’s happening a lot in COVID. It’s like, “I’m out here managing the kids. You’re still in the office.” The underlying message of that is always like, “I need you. I’m feeling overwhelmed. I need help.” I’ve started on my own accord is when I get that behavior, I know it’s like, “Stop what you’re doing for a minute and go give a hug, climb up on his lap or nuzzle him.” Usually, that is enough to be like, “She sees me. She understands.” It’s a matter of prioritizing our spouse. As entrepreneurs, we’re problem solvers. Typically, what is the problem? The problem is that we’re not prioritizing our marriage as we should.
I teach tools and things that you can put in place to show your partner. It doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time or even the same amount of time. It’s what we can do to show our partners that they mean the world to us and are more important than the business, even if we are spending more time, energy or financial resources on our business. They do mean enough for us to stop what we’re doing, take a moment and acknowledge the fact that they do mean everything to us, our marriage is important to us and they’re not getting the leftovers.
We’ve made everybody sick with my questions on how to avoid conflict because I think that’s the first thing. It’s like, “How do we avoid conflict?” Now, we’re getting better and curious. We’ve got the status quo. How do we make it amplify to happiness so that it’s not just, “I’m pleasing everybody. We’re not having conflict. I see you for a second?” How do we now amplify it to this beautiful, happy marriage?
I love that you asked that question because I’m obsessed with what makes a marriage strong and lasting, but that doesn’t mean just staying together for a long time. It means, “What makes us stronger through every season of life, even the hard ones?” What does it take to create that bond that we can look back on our life and go, “This is the love story. This is our story?” Start with the end in mind and think like, “What is the love story that we’re writing?” You have control over that. That is one of the beautiful parts of being married and creating a life, family and business. Whatever you are creating, that is the story you’re writing.
Think about your love story, “What is the love story that we’re writing?” Be sure that you’re prioritizing that. When you look back over the years like, “What was the most important thing to you? Was it your connection? Was it your marriage?” A lot of people get in this trap and they’re like, “I have to take care of the kids. The kids are the most important thing.” If you do it right, your kids are going to grow up, leave and you’re going to retire from your business eventually, but your spouse is always going to be there. You want to make sure that even through those busy seasons of life, raising children and building up your business, all the fame, success and goals that you have are wonderful and beautiful.
At the very end, you want that relationship like, “What’s the point of getting to the top of that mountain and standing there by yourself?” You want to have somebody to share that with and look over all that you’ve accomplished, overcome and created together. That’s the most important thing to remember, “Those busy seasons of life aren’t going to be busy, whether you prioritize your spouse or you don’t.” If you want your spouse to be there in the end, then you should prioritize them and put the first things first. For me, one of the first things that I tell my people and students do is, “Take inventory of your calendar and to-do list. Those show your priorities.” As a business owner, every day I look forward to the next day and make sure that I’m prepared. For this interview, I needed to make sure that I had my microphone and all of my interviewing things.
Every day, I have a daily five systems, “What are the five things that are going to push my business or my family forward?” Every single day, my husband makes one of those things. It doesn’t have to be complicated, time-consuming or anything like that but what can I do each day to make sure that my husband gets on that to-do list? If whether that’s a text in the middle of the day, calling to check up on a meeting that he was worried about, picking up his favorite treat at the grocery store, writing a little note and slipping it on his pillow or whatever it is, it can be fast but something that shows him, “I thought about you now because you are my priority.”If you’re going to create a marriage and a life together that works for you and your partner, never minimize yourself in any way. Click To Tweet
One of the things that we had at my daughter’s wedding was someone was speaking and saying, “Every day, you have to choose your spouse.” This got me thinking. What if someone is reading and they’re like, “I have neglected this guy. I have neglected this woman. I have neglected them for so long that if I did, I know they would go, ‘What are you trying to do? Butter me up because you want a divorce or you’re having an affair? This is not you. Who are you?’” How do we slide into that in a manner that doesn’t knee-jerk or create friction because we did it like, “Why are you so interested all of a sudden? What’s going on?”
Maybe a conversation like, “Life has been so busy, COVID, kids and business. I realized that you’re the most important thing in my life right now. I’m going to show that to you. I heard this amazing podcast interview. I know that I need to make time for the things that I truly cherish and you are that to me. You might notice I’m going to be making a little bit of an extra effort. There’s nothing weird going on. I just want to let you know that I love you and appreciate you. If I’ve neglected you over the past few months or years, I’m deeply sorry.”
There’s no excuse for not having the best of both worlds to have the passion and the profit.
I don’t think anyone ever has to choose between the two. Another common trap that we fall into is, “I’ll try as soon as they try. If they show a little bit of effort, then I’ll show a little bit of effort.”
That’s why I wanted to bring this is because this is something that I experienced with my students all the time. They always use the word balance and I keep saying, “That’s the problem. It’s not about balance. It’s about integration.” Integrating these little moments and looks, the 2-foot rule that I have and the notes that you have, it’s the integration. It goes beyond marriage. This is something we need to be doing with our kids, too. My kids are grown, but I talk to them less frequently now than I did before. It was, “He hasn’t called me. I’m his mom. Why hasn’t he called me?” I realized that his priorities aren’t his mom anymore. His priorities are his wife and his family. I have to inject myself into that more often. What advice would you like to give people who read this particular conversation?
My best advice would be to start somewhere. Now and right where you are is a great place to start. There’s no scenario in which you would ever regret prioritizing your marriage. If you’ve had a period of time where it felt crazy, it’s easy to put that on the back burner because your customers and clients need and pay you. Your kids can’t take care of themselves. You’re the one who can take care of them. It’s easy to say, “My marriage is fine. It will be there. It’s fine.”
It reminds me of people who do their business plan, put it on a shelf, get it back out at the end of the year and go, “Now, I’m going to work on my business plan this year. This time, I’m going to do it differently.” It becomes the same thing.
Nothing self-sustains. The grass needs to be mowed. The toilets need to be cleaned. Marriage needs care intending as well. Start now.
If someone read this and they want to connect with you and get more information about how they can start going down that road and working with you and open up the doors, what is the best way for them to reach out to you?
I want to say thank you so much for joining us. This is critical information. As we’re coming out of the COVID challenge, it’s now time to focus on the things that perhaps were put on the back burner because I know we’re doing it. We’re focusing. We’ve been virtual, but we’re finally going back to church and saying, “We got to get back on the right track.” What a perfect time to say, “Let’s put our marriage on the right track too to make sure that we don’t get lost in the shuffle.”
The thing to remember, too, is when you focus on your marriage and when everything is good there, you show up better in every single other aspect of your life. You’re a stronger leader in your business. You’re a better parent and human. If you want to elevate every level of your life and how you show up, then put your focus on your marriage because that is your primary relationship. That is the first commitment you made. You can’t go wrong.
We’re talking about marriage. For those who are reading who are single, not necessarily divorced, is it the same process and put as much time and effort into that relationship?When you focus on your marriage and when everything is good there, you show up better in every single aspect of your life. Click To Tweet
What I always tell my single people is, “Put as much time and energy into yourself and to become the partner that you want to attract.” Don’t discount these things because when you’re single, you’re putting all your energy on, “I want to find someone who.” Put your energy, “I want to become a person who,” and then you will attract.
Thank you for sharing this. We had fun on it. I look forward to being on your show. I know we’re going to do a little swap here and it’s exciting. Thank you for being with us here, Monica. I appreciate it.
Thank you so much for having me.
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About Monica Tanner
I’m Monica Tanner, married to my best friend, boss mom to 4 small humans, weekly podcaster at On the Brighter Side ~Marriage For Entrepreneurs and relationship and intimacy Sexpert. I get it, entrepreneurship and marriage are HARD…they both take work. There are lots of ups and downs and sometimes it all just feels like TOO MUCH. But can I let you in on a little secret? It’s easier than you might think… you may just need some simple, time – saving, life – saving skills and strategies.
That’s where I come in… I firmly believe that there are no two people on planet earth who love each other more then me and my husband and I would love to help you believe that about your own marriage as well. I help Passionate Entrepreneurs who are building or scaling their business stay happily married by up-leveling their commitment, communication and connection skills. My goal is to help you create a marriage that supports your business and a business that supports your marriage through my signature, proven system called Training in the Art of Sexpionage. I’m here to help!
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