“What if My Spouse Doesn’t Support my Career as an Entrepreneur?”
“My spouse doesn’t support my career, and I don’t know what to do about it.”
I heard this, and things like it, many, many times during my coaching career. As someone who once had to end their marriage over this issue, I understand how serious it can be. However, my current wife is often more supportive of my entrepreneurial aspirations than I am.
So, I’ve seen this problem from both angles now, and I’ve helped plenty of people get through it. This podcast is a followup to my podcast on “Staying Happily Married.” In my experience, there are three reasons spouses will resist, criticize, or even sabotage your career…
In some cases, the fear is because of the financial impact of following a certain career path. But, I’ve found that more often, your spouse is afraid of the people you’ll meet while pursuing your career. If you’re doing something you love, you’ll inevitably meet people who are equally passionate about it. You could make new friends, and they might influence you in a way your spouse is uncomfortable with. You might even meet a romantic interest.
Your spouse might fear these things, even if they aren’t consciously aware of it and even if it’s completely illogical that you’d be unfaithful to them. The other possibility is greed. Your spouse might not want to give up all the expensive things your current combined incomes allow you to buy. But, during my coaching career, I found envy to be a surprisingly common motivation. The problem is, most people I worked with weren’t self-aware enough to realize that this was the case.
It would often take the “resisting” spouse a LOT of self-discovery before they’d even realize this, let alone admit it. I am not saying you have to play amateur psychologist to figure out why your spouse won’t support your career change, or your decision to start a business. But, in my experience, most people won’t have enough self-awareness to communicate these things to you. Instead, they’ll start a fight over crap that has nothing to do with what they’re really afraid of.
Your job is to stand your ground, remind your spouse why your career is important to you, and to be 100% clear on what will happen if they continue to sabotage or criticize your dreams. This will put them in a position where they HAVE to face their own fears, their own greed, or their own envy…whatever emotion is behind their resistance to your right to choose your own path in life.
If you keep telling yourself that it’s about your career, and if you keep fighting with your spouse as if your career were the real issue, you’ll feed an unending distraction from the real problem. The second, and more important point, is to stop trying to persuade your spouse with words and to focus on persuading them with your actions. It’s much easier to argue with someone’s words than it is to argue with their actions.
Many times, when your spouse finally realizes that you’re serious about your dreams and that you have what it takes to succeed, they’ll wake up and realize that they’re being self-centered. If they don’t, or if they get worse as you become more successful, you might have to make the decision I did the first time I was married. In my opinion, your dreams are worth the risk.
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