C ouples fight over money issues, disagreeing over how money is to be earned and spent or how they should manage their investments, open businesses, and purchase property. Marriage, after all, is a “socioeconomic relationship,” with both a social side (companionship and love) and an economic side (division of labor, financial partnership). These two sides interact with and influence each other.

When Differences Cause Conflict
When spouses differ significantly in their financial approaches, conflict often ensues. Some people (often men) are less risk-averse than others.

“My husband is completely different from me when it comes to taking risks — he jumps in feet first. He has strong feelings that things will just work out. I, on the other hand, think everything will fail.”

Often spouses will have different approaches to financial uncertainty. Some people are so intent on staying “safe” that they can barely move into the future at all, while some are so reckless that they fail to learn from their mistakes.

“I need my wife to believe in me. But she’s my biggest naysayer. She doesn’t understand how damaging that is to our relationship.”

“I can’t support my husband’s business ambitions. His last two businesses went bankrupt. So yes, I question him a lot about every move he’s making. It’s too bad if he doesn’t like it.”

Strategies for Success
Yes, it’s too bad — for the marriage. Being excessively criticized and questioned is painful. It will eventually cause a partner to pull back (not from the business necessarily, but from the relationship). A recent article in Entrepreneur (August 2017) outlines some strategies for a successful relationship with an entrepreneur:

1. Never tell an entrepreneur that he’s working too much or not spending enough time with you; you must appreciate that he is driven and that this drive will enable him to succeed in his undertaking.

2. Never suggest that his new idea is doomed to failure. He needs confidence in order to convince his investors and market.

3. Never question how much he’s investing in the new venture. That’s his call. One must often risk a lot in order to gain a lot.

4. Never complain that he’s too stressed. It goes with the territory. The stakes are high: He’s in the big game, and even though he’s stressed, he’s probably loving it.

5. Don’t accuse him of caring more for his project than for you. His enthusiasm and focus for his project don’t mean that you are less important to him. In fact, he wants all this for the family. Being dismissive of his project will make him feel like you are being dismissive of him and it will place a wedge between the two of you.

An entrepreneur has business partners and bank managers to check his thinking — he doesn’t need or want his spouse’s censure.

“I just want her to say she believes I can do it and she’s with me all the way.”

Respect the Dreams
But what if she doesn’t believe he can do it? After all, not all entrepreneurs are successful.

“Mendy spent a year setting up his online store and three years trying to get the business off the ground. But there’s hardly any money coming in. He keeps begging me to give him a chance to make it work, saying this is our only chance for decent money and that the early years of any successful business are hard.

“That’s fine for him to say, but I’m working long shifts at my nursing job and we still don’t have enough money to make ends meet. I want him to get a job and do this store thing part time, but he says he has to do it full time or it won’t take off. We fight about this constantly. I’ve had enough of the whole thing.”

Business owners need emotional support. Family members need financial support. Somehow, husbands and wives have to take care of each other, respecting and meeting each other’s needs. As with all issues in marriage, listening, understanding, and compromising will smooth the way. Neither spouse can have it exactly his or her own way; each has to meet the other halfway.

This may mean setting deadlines for entrepreneurial endeavors, compromising on amounts of money invested in projects or properties, or seeking outside counsel together. Respecting and protecting each other’s hopes, dreams, and fears is the key to creating a truly rich home. (Originally featured in Family First, Issue 563)