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How to stay happily married (and run a business)
20 March 2020

How to stay happily married (and run a business)

Psychologist Kirstin Bouse from Perth Psychology Collective has counselled thousands of people, including hundreds of couples, in her 20 plus year career. 

She says that there are plenty of things that can put pressure on a relationship; inter-family conflict, work and money stress, illness and simple things like not spending enough time together.

Here she shares her thoughts on what creates a happy, lasting marriage. 

What are the keys to a good relationship?

Kirstin says the number one thing is good communication, including understanding how conflict plays out and how best to manage that, as well as a commitment to working through tricky times.

She says, "It's important to maintain the perspective that a happy relationship will have patches of challenges and that is 'normal'."

She also says that respect and liking one another, remembering and staying connected to the good times you've had and the wonderful qualities your partner has are important, along with shared and separate goals and interests (although relationship gurus, The Gottmans, have found that shared interest aren't necessary for a successful relationship).

How can running a business impact a marriage?

Kirstin says that running a business can definitely impact a marriage. 

"The extra hours and the reduced income while you're getting established can be stressful. It's a long-term game where the rewards take time to reveal themselves. You've got to be a little obsessive to make it work otherwise it will probably just end up being a hobby."

Kirstin says that partners can become resentful of all those things and you can lose your connection with one another.

How can you avoid the pitfalls of business ownership impacting your marriage?

Beyond setting up good communication, Kirstin says that it's wise to discuss expectations - what's realistic and unrealistic - and then set boundaries with a bit of inbuilt flexibility.

She says, "Sometimes home life is full-on and you have to reduce your hours a bit in the business. Equally so, business goes up and down and you need to be able to ride those peaks and troughs too."

Should you include your partner in your business or keep them separate?

There are some main considerations, namely are they interested and is there a role for them that is suitable?

"Can you earn enough if you're both in the business and do you want to be around each other that much?," says Kirstin.

When you're time poor and your family/partner needs you, and your business also needs you, how can you balance these competing pressures?

Kirstin says it's wise to create timelines. For example, you know you need to work extra hard this month because of deadlines/projects/opportunities but then schedule in a bit of downtime in the following month.

She also recommends creating traditions that 'short of an earthquake' you follow through on.

"They are so connecting and the fact that traditions are reliable, creates predictability which reduces worry/fear and disconnect," says Kirstin.

What is the number one thing everyone who wants maintain a happy marriage needs to remember?

"It's us versus the problem. Not you or I who have the problem," says Kirstin. 

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