Marriage is a walk in the park and so is running a business… said no one ever.
Both come with challenges. You care about them both so much. You want both to succeed and last forever. So, of course, there are bumps in the road. But what happens when the bumps in the road start to feel more like massive potholes, followed by unmarked speed bumps on the highway? Things can get complicated and messy; and that’s exactly what happened to me as I was starting my business.
When I talk to women now who are struggling with balancing their marriage and their business needs, I first ask them, “Do you really want your marriage?” They always look at me in amazement and say, “Of course I do!” To which I reply, “Then learn to prioritize it.”
I tell them this because of my own experience. By no means am I saying that you can’t be married and be a successful business owner. You absolutely can. However, I also know how passionate you feel about succeeding when you start a business. And I was so passionate and adamant about succeeding in my business, that I almost lost the most important person in my life - my husband. Learn from my mistake.
Before I established my business, I was a stay-at-home wife for about 5 years. I homeschooled my son and I was available almost 24/7 for the needs and desires of my family. But I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and I couldn’t suppress it any longer. I sent my son to a traditional school and I set out to be my own boss.
My husband has always been the breadwinner; so I wasn’t as worried about financial risks. However, my husband was accustomed to my open availability and my attentiveness around the house. When I started my business, I obviously had to start reserving time for myself. As my business started picking up momentum and I was booking clients, “reserving time for business” turned into me never being available.
I bit off more than I could chew. It took off soooo fast. Within the first three months of marketing my business as a business strategist and web developer, I had 16 clients. 16 clients. 16 businesses relying on little ol’ me to help them develop their brand, their website and scale their businesses strategically. It was so demanding. But honestly, I was loving it. I felt like finally… something just for me, that I’m GREAT at!
But my family suffered. Big time.
I wasn’t cooking. I wasn’t cleaning. I wasn’t attentive. I wasn’t available at all. I felt like, surely he understands though, right? I mean, I’m living my dream of entrepreneurship. And he loves me. So he gets it. But he was suffering in silence. He no longer had the devoted wife that he felt he had before. I had taken myself off the shelf and put him on it.
And although I was busy, he was busy, too. He was pursuing his calling in ministry. And he had a new position in sales that was quite demanding of his time. And when I was finally done working for the day, I wanted my loving husband’s attention. But he was busy, or gone, or tired.
He resented my busy spells, and I resented his. We were neglecting each other for the sake of self-fulfillment.
For about a year, we started drifting apart. It got to the point where, we were sitting at a table one night at a local Mexican restaurant, talking about how we could make our divorce as easy as possible for our son.
We figured, since we’re clearly going in different directions and wanting different things in life, we should part ways before we start hating each other. Smart, right?! Being proactive.
We were both on the same page, until one day, my husband said, “What are we doing?! No. We’re not doing this. We’re going to find a way to make this work for both of us.”
I’m so grateful for that moment. It saved a now 11 year marriage.
I realized that I let my success become more important than my marriage. Sometimes you do have to be a bit selfish in order to grant yourself the time you need to grow. And sometimes your spouse has to just be understanding of that needed space and time. But this had gone too far. I lost sight of what was most important. He was a good man. He was my man. And I was his lady. We just lacked balance.
We still had our struggles of time balancing, compromise, understanding, and helping one another. But through honest conversations and deciding that we wanted our marriage to last forever, we started shifting our expectations on one another, prioritizing each other over anything else and being compassionate to the needs of the other person.
I set strict business hours and required my clients to respect my family time. He made more time for me as well. This re-commitment to one another as the priority helped us also be understanding when business situations, occasions or emergencies arose for either of us.
We realized that we needed quality time. We needed to feel prioritized by the other. We needed to feel like companions, not roommates. And we took action to deepen our bond and save our marriage, as well as help each other pursue our dreams and aspirations.
Fast forwarding to now, I got my best friend back. He’s my number 1 supporter in my business of influencing. He’s my partner when I need to bounce ideas around. And he’s my chocolate love when business hours are over. I am also his number 1 supporter in his goals with ministry and music. I listen to his many thoughts and ideas. I work with him on building his brand. And I’m his loving honey bee after 5pm.
We both cook, but I make an effort to cook more than he does, since it’s a part of his love language. We both clean. We both help with our son. We have dinner as a family. We laugh. We joke. We talk and talk and talk. We are bonded.
I’m now able to run my business and run my household, but my family comes first. I’m okay with admitting where I went wrong. I had NO BALANCE. And no, I wasn’t trying hard enough at first to create it. My priorities were messed up. And I couldn’t ask him to respect my mess. I had to lay out a plan so that my family could understand my goals and get on board. I had to get specific and disciplined with my time. I had to remember who and what is most important to me.
As I learned to respect my priorities, my priorities learned to respect my business. Now, all is well in the Mangum world.
All photos taken by Nicole Simone
Flowers provided by Azelly
Jason and C. Reneé Mangum styled by Star Campbell