Being an entrepreneur and owning your own business can be hard on a marriage, but it doesn’t have to be. How can you put your marriage first without having to sacrifice the business that you have laid all your cards to build? Join Jen Du Plessis as she sits down for a talk with entrepreneur and intimacy expert, Monica Tanner. Monica talks about how she has made her marriage successful despite having a busy life as an entrepreneur. They tackle challenges faced by married business owners and talk about what they learned is needed to make a marriage work. Learn the secrets of a happy marriage here.
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Putting Your Marriage First As An Entrepreneur With Monica Tanner
Welcome to this episode. I am delighted to have to join us Monica Tanner. First of all, she’s married to her best friend. That’s the first thing she puts in her bio. 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 a what’s called a CDLP, a Certified Divorce Lending Professional before I’ve got into full-time speaking, coaching, mentoring and podcasting. Statistically, divorces, I think we are at 53% or 58%. Now the thing is they are dropping because people are getting married later, so there’s a little lull in the drop and 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.
It’s going to be fun. Divorce rates are high and I know that you specialize in marriage for entrepreneurs and I feel that the entrepreneur is married to their business, not to their spouse. That’s what ends up happening and it’s a real struggle. I’m against the word balance because I don’t believe in it, you are 50/50 when you are. Tell us, what is the biggest challenge and problem that you see with any entrepreneurship when the flashlights are being shown on the business and not on the relationship?If you want your spouse to be there in the end, then you should prioritize them. You should put the first things first. Click To Tweet
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. Typically, when you have an entrepreneur, you have someone who is super-fast–paced, a dreamer, a goal-setter, moving at the speed of light. They 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 do life at a different pace. They say that opposites attract. That happens a lot for very good reason but 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 more neutralized speed.
The entrepreneur needs to understand the perspective and vice versa. That’s one thing but another thing like you talked about, entrepreneurship is just a different animal. There’s no clocking in clocking out. Once a spouse, always a spouse, once a parent always a parent and once a business owner, always a business owner. The business doesn’t sleep. It’s important to be able to set those boundaries and guidelines to understand that there are times when we need to prioritize our marriage, family and business.
It’s interesting as you are talking about that. I’m an entrepreneur but I’m a little more driven. My husband is a mortgage lender and that’s still entrepreneurship, no matter how you look at it. I was that for 30 years in the lending space as well. I have been married for many years but I always look at my left hand and say, “The left hand is my marriage and the right hand is I’m trying to get my business right.“ They don’t go together. We have worked together for seventeen years and it worked for us. I know it doesn’t work for everybody but in this new arena that I’m in where I’m a true entrepreneur, we are not working hand in hand. I’m realizing that I can’t co–mingle. Some of the money I spend, some of the expenses I have in my business, I can’t tell him about and not because we are women. We have all bought something and hid it in the trunk of our car because we don’t want her husband to know. Stuff it in the trash can. Their husbands go, “Is that new?” “I bought it a while ago. It’s the first time I’m wearing it.” It’s pretty funny.
I have learned that in business, it’s safer for me not to share the fact that I just signed on with a new coach or I’m going to spend $10,000 on some marketing campaign or something. It doesn’t work. Talk to us about it. It’s one thing to say the speed or the drive. 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“ or whatever. How far do we go in allowing for this to overlap without creating problems?
These are all just interesting dynamics that need to be worked on in your marriage. It’s communication, connection and control. Especially, now, my husband and I own two separate businesses. They couldn’t be more different. I’m online, he is 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 and that’s built over time. It comes down to I talk about confidence, communication and connection. You have to build those things up over time with experiences. That’s just a matter of learning how to create an environment where there is 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, meticulous and he’s fast, meticulous, do I purposely have to shut down my office and then purposely go and make sure that he gets attention just as much? What are some of the boundaries? How do you identify what boundaries that you want to have in your business and what boundaries you need to be doing as a team?
You touched on a lot of little things that I like to talk about but first of all, when you said, “Do I have to drop this or be a chameleon,” one of the biggest traps that couples fall into is this fear of conflicts. Conflict in a marriage or having different opinions or different ways of doing things is one of the biggest drivers of innovation. I never think that you need to minimize yourself, your ideas or your ways of doing things 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 are 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 and instead of my way or the highway, it’s just getting curious about your partner and wondering, “I wonder why you feel so strongly about this. I wonder why you do things this way or tell me more about your opinion on these issues.” Get curious and then be able to get vulnerable as well. When you get upset about me spending a whole bunch of money on a coach, it makes me feel you don’t trust me or you don’t feel I have a sense of what to do in my own business or things like that. Being able to ask questions, get vulnerable and then create an environment, both of trust, understanding and communication, all the things so that the both of you can thrive and continue to grow individually and together as a couple. That’s my equation that I teach.
I’m so involved in my head of curiosity and vulnerability and it’s okay. If you lead with curiosity, then they are naturally going to be more curious too. If I lead with vulnerability, it certainly like take the lead in the relationship so that we can start getting to that creative part in 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 will spring it on him and he can’t say anything about it because it’s already done. I’m dealing with that now. My marriage is great, it’s not that. I’m being the person that everybody who’s reading is because they were saying, “I do that and 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 I’m going to be curious?” Is there a mindset behind this? Is there a result that we are trying to get to that we need to be thinking about in advance?
It realizing that every problem, behavior or maybe the beginning of an argument, there are always some need or fear underlying that. If my husband comes into my office and he was like, “You have been in here all day. What about our food? What about cooking and cleaning up? What about my dinner? What have you been doing all day?” Understanding that behavior is driven by some need or some 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 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.“ That’s the beginning or the first step. It’s understanding that we all show our needs differently. See if you can understand the message underneath the verbal or behavior that is 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. That‘s part of it is. We are so ingrained in what we are doing that it’s hard to increase awareness. It’s hard to recognize. That’s one thing that I’m so grateful for COVID is that it’s 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?” “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 strategy is that we started this 2–foot rule that anytime that we are within 2 feet of one another, we stop and we kiss.
We have a quick kiss and acknowledge each other. I have probably never looked in his eyes more than I have during COVID. Even in the kitchen, we were like, “Excuse me,“ and you don’t try to hit each other and you wait until they are done. Now we go, “We are 2 feet, let’s magnetize that and come together.“ I wonder if that’s something we could do too. I’m visualizing your husband coming in. You are 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 the very scenario that you said is what’s happening a lot in COVID. It’s like, “I’m out here managing the kids. You are still in the office.” The underlying message of that is always, “I need you, I’m feeling overwhelmed or I need help,” or something. I have started, just on my own accord, is when I get that behavior, I know it’s like, “Stop what you are doing for a minute,” and go give a hug or climb up on his lap or just nuzzle him or something. Usually, that is enough to be like, “She sees me, she understands.“ It’s just a matter of prioritizing our spouse. As entrepreneurs, we are problem solvers. Typically, what is the problem? The problem is that we are not prioritizing our marriage as we should.
There are stuff and I teach tools, definitely things that you could 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 but just what can we do to show our partner that they mean the world to us. They are more important to the business even we are spending more time, energy or financial resources on our business, that they do mean enough for us to stop what we are doing. Take a moment and acknowledge the fact that they do mean everything to us and our marriage is important to us and that they are not just getting the leftovers.
We have made everybody sick with my questions on how to avoid conflict because that’s the first thing. It’s like, “How do we avoid conflict?“ We are getting better. We are getting curious now we have got the status quo but how do we make it amplify to happiness so that it’s not just I’m teasing everybody, we are not having conflict and I’m going, “Yes, I see you for a second,” and all that. 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, “What is the love story that we are 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 are writing. Think about your love story.
What is the love story that we are writing?” Be sure that you are prioritizing that when you look back over the years, what was the most important thing to you? Was it your connection? Was it your marriage? A lot of people get into this trap that, “I have to take care of the kids. The kids are the most important thing,“ but if you do it right, your kids are going to grow up and leave. If you do it right, you are going to retire from your business eventually but your spouse is always going to be there. You want to make sure that even though those busy seasons of life, raising children and building up your business and all the fame and success and the goals that you have are wonderful and beautiful.
At the very end, you want that relationship. 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, somebody to look over all that you have accomplished, overcome and create it together. That’s the most important thing, it’s to remember. Those busy seasons of life are going to be busy, whether you prioritize your spouse or whether you don’t. If you want your spouse to be there in the end, then you should prioritize them. You should put the first things first. For me, one of the first things that I have, my people, my students do is take inventory of your calendar and your to-do lists. 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 have my microphone and that I had all of my interviewing things. Every day, I personally 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? Whether that’s a text in the middle of the day, whether it’s calling to check up on a meeting he was worried about, picking up his favorite treat at the grocery store or writing a little note and slipping it on his pillow. Whatever it is, it can be fast but something that shows him that, “I thought about you because you are my priority.”You’ll never ever regret prioritizing your marriage. There’s no scenario in which you would ever regret prioritizing your marriage. Click To Tweet
I love that one of the things that we had at my daughter’s wedding, someone who was speaking and saying, “Every day you have to choose your spouse.“ This has got me thinking, so what if someone’s reading and they were like, “I have neglected this guy. I have neglected this woman. I have neglected them for so long that if I did a note, they would go, ‘What are you trying to do? Butter me up because you want a divorce? Butter me up because you are 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? “Why are you so interested all of a sudden? What’s going on?“
Maybe just a conversation like, “I realized life has been so busy, COVID, the kids and the business. I realized that you are the most important thing in my life now, so I’m going to show that to you. I read this amazing interview and I know that if 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 want to let you know that I love you and appreciate you and if I have neglected you over the past few months or years, I’m deeply sorry.”
I love that because then 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 those two and another common trap that we fall into is, “I will try as soon as they try. If they show a little bit of effort, then I will show a little bit of effort.“
Take the lead. That’s why I wanted to bring this because this is just 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, these little looks, the 2–foot rule that I have, the notes that you have. It goes beyond just 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, “Why hasn’t he called me? I’m his mom.” Realizing that his priorities aren’t his mom anymore. His priorities are his wife and his family and so I have to inject myself into that more often. As we close out our time, what advice would you like to give to the readers that have read this particular conversation?
My best advice would be to start somewhere now. Right where you are being a great place to start. You will never ever regret prioritizing your marriage. There’s no scenario in which you would ever regret prioritizing your marriage. If you have had a time where it just felt crazy and it’s easy to put that on the back burner because your customers and your clients, need you and they pay you. Your kids can’t drive themselves, they can’t take care of themselves. You are the one that can take care of them. It’s easy to just say, “My marriage is fine. It will be there and it’s fine“
It reminds me of people who do their business plan, put it on a shelf and then get it back out at the end of the year and go, “I’m going to work on my business plan this year. This time, I’m going to do it differently,” and it becomes the same thing
Nothing self–sustains. The grass needs to be mowed. The toilets need to be cleaned. Marriage needs care and tending as well. You definitely start now.
If someone reads this and they want to connect with you and they want to 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. While we are doing this, we are coming out of the COVID challenge. As we are coming out of this, it’s now time to focus on the things that perhaps were put on the back burner because I know we are doing it. We are focusing. I know for us, we have been virtual but we are finally going back to church. We’ve 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 when everything is good there, you show up better in every single other aspect of your life. You are a stronger leader in your business. You are a better parent and a better 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.
I want to add and ask you just one more thing. We are talking about marriage but for those that are reading to that are single, not necessarily divorced. To those that are the single, same process. Put as much time and effort into that relationship. I’m saying you are in a relationship but you happen to be single so put that time into that relationship.
I would say if you are single, what I always tell my single people is to 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 are single, you are putting in all your energy to, “I want to find someone who.” Put your energy, “I want to become a person who,“ and then you will attract.
Thank you so much for sharing this. We had fun when we first talked. We were like, “We should have recorded this when we first talked.” We had so much fun on it and I look forward to being on your show. I know we are 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.
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 than 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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