The following excerpt is from Kelly Clements’ book The Power of Play, Praise and Purpose. Get the FREE eBook below.
Entrepreneurship is a wild ride and it takes the right person to pull it off successfully. With over 90 percent of entrepreneurs failing once or more in business, it’s no wonder the divorce rate for entrepreneurs is so high. The journey of entrepreneurship is wrought with extreme highs and lows. Add a spouse to the mix and you either have a secret weapon—or a recipe for disaster!
For a spouse, marrying into an entrepreneurial relationship can prove to be a tremendous blessing or a blasted curse. I used to say that a spouse can make or break a business. While that’s still true, there’s a more important truth: a business can make or break a spouse.
While the growth of a business owner may serve the business well, it can also threaten a marriage. When couples are not growing together, the gap of shared goals and dreams can swallow the relationship. Because a spouse plays such a crucial support role to the business owner, it is imperative to invest in the individual growth of the spouse as well as the entrepreneur.
Where Spouses Might Struggle
Most spouses struggle to find the line between support and self-care. Discovering how to effectively manage the impact of the business on the spouse and the relationship has proven to be a game changer. The impact of a supportive spouse on a business in undeniable. The impact of a fulfilled spouse in a relationship is even greater. That’s why the spouses must be championed, acknowledged, and encouraged to grow and care for themselves.
To be healthy in all areas of personal life requires a journey of self-discovery to reconnect with one’s highest and best self. I’ve lived in the uncertain environment of the entrepreneurial households on both sides of the equation—as the entrepreneur and as the partner of one. I’ve learned from my mistakes and love lost. I’ve also coached many entrepreneurial couples through Strategic Coach, Lifebook, and my own business, The Entreprenewer, where I recognized they were all experiencing similar issues, not only in the business, but in the situation at home.
Due to the constant demands of the business and family, couples are often left feeling deflated, overwhelmed, and underserved. They’re in chronic reaction mode. The entrepreneur is hyper-focused on maximizing their potentialin the business. The spouse is caught up in the inertia of everyone else’s goals and dreams. They aren’t pursuing their own passion and growth anymore. In essence, both parties are being squeezed out of the relationship. They have forgotten the three most enjoyable parts of life and relationships: the power of play, the power of praise, and the power of purpose.
My Intention for this Book
My intention for this is a book is to empower entrepreneurial couples to grow TOGETHER through the powers of play, praise, and purpose. Harnessing these powers will reveal that it takes TWO extraordinary people to create ONE extraordinary relationship. In discussing the concepts, I will often refer to entrepreneurial relationships in a generalized way, referring to the entrepreneur as “he” and the spouse as “she”—but the challenges can be just as hard, if not harder, when the woman is the entrepreneur in the relationship. The same is true for same-sex couples of either gender. These principles are boiled down to “entrepreneurshipthe human experience,” and transcend stereotypes and gender roles.
To create a healthy, vibrant relationship, the three most crucial strategies involve infusing your relationship with prolific amounts of play, praise, and purpose. In the next section, we’ll address why entrepreneurs and their spouses need to match the quality of their free time to that of their work time. We’ll explore how they can bring greater awareness to their opportunities to affirm versus accuse, and identify the need to align their long-term visions so there’s purpose in both their lives, as well purpose for their relationship. In short, entrepreneurial households require plentiful play, potent praise, and powerful purpose.
The Storms of Entrepreneurial Relationships
Before we explore the solution, we must fully recognize the problem If we don’t understand what’s hurting us, we can’t maximize what helps us Entrepreneurship offers a unique dynamic to a love relationship Somehow, the business becomes a third party in the relationship It can become the source of our identity and the catalyst for the health (or lack thereof) of our relationship It becomes the governing body of how well we “show up” for our spouse It is crucial for us to reclaim our love relationship from the grip of our business if we are to truly step into our power as a couple
Chapter 1: Roles vs. Identity
Identity Loss: It doesn’t take a crisis
We give business owners a lot of flack for tying their identity so tightly to their business. Their self-worth becomes inextricably linked to their net worth. What has so far gone unnoticed is how strongly the spouse ties her identity to the business owner.
The business now becomes the foundation of the relationship. But we overlook the crucial piece in which we acknowledge that the love relationship is actually the bedrock of a fulfilling life and the health of the business.
Remember, in order to create one extraordinary love relationship, we need two extraordinary people—not one extraordinary business We need two people who are actively paying attention to their needs and desires. We need two people who are committed to shared growth and mutual support.
By nature, and by trade, entrepreneurs are hardwired for growth. They seek peak experiences and are always looking for an edge. Many times, the result of this quest for hyper-growth leaves thrashing chaos in its wake. The spouse is left to hold the rest of the couple’s lives together. Keeping life on the rails becomes a full-time job, and it’s in this abyss that we completely lose sight of ourselves.
The following excerpt is from Kelly Clements’ book The Power of Play, Praise and Purpose for entrepreneurial couples. Get the FREE eBook below.
Entrepreneur couples and the power of praise. What we appreciate, appreciates. How to support your entrepreneur spouse through the power of praise.
For a man, one of the most powerful forces in the world is a woman’s love. A well-loved man can and will move mountains for his love. The only thing stronger than a woman’s love is her rejection. If a woman’s love can make a man, a woman’s rejection will break him.
As with all married couples, what initially attracts us to our spouse can quickly become the very things that frustrate us about him or her. It’s the classic case of our greatest strengths turning into our greatest weaknesses. However, in entrepreneurial couples, this is magnified because entrepreneurs tend to have a more dynamic spectrum of talents and gifts. What makes us successful in business can be a real challenge to manage at home.
In fact, did you know that from a psychological perspective, quite a large number of entrepreneurs are similar to psychopaths? It’s true! Entrepreneurs have just found better ways to channel all that mania.
These studies illustrate how a character trait can be viewed as a strength or a weakness, depending on its context and how it is expressed—and perceived. You can view the very same qualities in your partner as either powerful strengths or detrimental weaknesses, depending on your perspective and what you cultivate through praise or criticism.
Qualities that most entrepreneurs share
Let’s look at the qualities that most entrepreneurs share: they’re confident, resilient, independent, driven, innovative, and have an eye for excellence. These qualities are strengths needed to build a successful business. However, when pressure gets turned up or there is a loss of control, these very same qualities can show up as arrogance, stubbornness, tyranny, mania, eccentricity, and perfectionism. Understanding the triggers that flip a strength into a weakness can help to us foster a relationship focused on strengths and praise, not weakness and criticism.
Another factor that is not openly shared is that most entrepreneurs constantly doubt that they are truly good enough. They may look poised and confident from the outside, but inside, they are battling feelings of insecurity. The moment our spouse validates those thoughts through criticism, we lose even more hope. Conversely, being affirmedby our spouse can quiet those unruly fear patterns.
Wired for potential
An entrepreneur’s concept of praise is an area in which his strengths can work against him. Entrepreneurs are wired to see possibility. They often see potential others cannot see. Because they can see potential so easily in others, they are quick to offer guidance and suggestions, even if unsolicited. In the absence of praise, these suggestions can seem like criticism. It is essential to see and appreciate the good, not just the potential.
Criticism is fine; we all have times in our relationship when criticism is necessary. However, when we criticize more than compliment, we devalue our relationship with every passing comment. It’s important to recognize our partner’s strengths, because what we appreciate, appreciates. When it gets dark, it’s easy to think the world is against us. It’s easy to think we’re a terrible failure. And as we know, it can get really dark on the journey of any relationship. Add entrepreneurship to the mix, and it can become even darker.
Praise is about elevating you and your spouse to a level where you really believe in each other. It’s not based on hollow compliments—saying nice things just for the sake of saying them—but rather, on the idea of truly believing in someone. It’s truly seeing and being seen. The definition of intimacy is “Into me you see.” Intentionally seeing the best in our partners turns praise into an aphrodisiac.
We Expand to the Space We’re Given
Have you ever noticed that the most unified couples are the ones who consistently show appreciation for each other? If there’s anything they get right, it’s the ability to genuinely praise one another. It’s not because their partners are more perfect than ours; it’s because they choose to see the good. They are not complaining about their spouses or the confines of their marriage for entertainment value. They’re not seeking the pity of others for the “tough road” they have to traverse in their marriage. They’re shining the light, together, on the power of their partnership.
I know a couple is bulletproof when I hear statements like, “I couldn’t do this without my spouse,” “He believed in me before I believed in myself,” and “She’s my biggest inspiration, my biggest fan.” These entrepreneurs set for their spouses, and guess what? The spouses rise to meet those expectations. When others see the most extraordinary traits in us, we feel a level of connection and intimacy unlike any other. We rise to meet those high expectations when they are set through praise, not constant reminders that we are falling short.
No joking matter
Even when we criticize in a joking manner, it cuts deep. It not only hurts our partner, but it also diminishes our own positive feelings for him or her. After leading a webinar on this topic, I received an email from a participant who said, “You’re right; we bash our husbands like it’s a sport. My girlfriends and I are always complaining about how our men fall short. They’re all pretty successful, but we’re ‘joking’ about stupid stuff, and it affects the way I feel that night when I’m sitting next to my husband: irritated about things that don’t really matter.”
Men can feel that condemnation, and when they are chronically criticized, they will respond accordingly. In other words, when we hold low expectations of them and are heavy on the criticism, they shut down and prove us right. Conversely, when they feel that we hold them in high esteem and see their greatness, they will rise to meet those expectations and confirm our estimation of them every single time.
Power to transform
Your attitude and regard for your spouse has the power to transform him or her on a cellular level. If he’s never enough for you and you’re consistently disappointed, his contributions will continue to dwindle. But if you view him as a super hero, he will don his cape. If you see her for all that she already is, and not just her potential, she will step even further into her radiance. Your spouse will fill the space that he or she is given, whether it’s in constant disappointment or unwavering belief.
To have someone see and acknowledge your best qualities ratchets up the level of intimacy in your relationship. It secures the bond. You’re validated because your best qualities are recognized by the most important person in your life.
Become aware of your compliment-to-criticism ratio. Jon Butcher references this ratio in Lifebook, an intense personal-development program based in Chicago. I facilitated this program for four years and learned the importance of minding the compliment-to-criticism ratio. Of course, there’s always going to be times when we have to criticize or bring forth a complaint, but if that’s all you’re doing, your marriage will suffer. Constant criticism erodes a marriage. The way to offset necessary criticism is to inject profuse levels of recognition and praise by creating opportunities to find the good in each other.
Myth: He Doesn’t Need Another “Yes-Person” Around
In Chapter 2, we talked about how men need significance and women need security. In an entrepreneurial household, it’s easy for a man to get his sense of significance from work because that’s where he’s engaging with his employees, customers, and advisors. Because he’s in a position of leadership, it’s likely that very few of these people tell him when he’s falling short.
If, at home, he’s always receiving criticism, then, of course, he will spend more time at work. The home environment needs to be a place of refuge, safety, and significance for the entrepreneur, while providing a sense of security for the spouse. The fact that his spouse is likely to be the only one in a position to point out his weaknesses is yet another reason for her to also be one of his raving fans. It gives her more credence when she had to address his weaknesses.
Expressions of gratitude
More noteworthy is the realization that the entrepreneur may have a source of constant recognition from his business. Affirming staff, raving customers, and widespread publicity all speak to the accomplishments of the business owner. If the spouse does not work, she is likely not exposed to the same level of recognition or appreciation. In this case, it is CRUCIAL for the business owner to be mindful that he, alone, is her source of praise and encouragement. Expressions of gratitude will prove to be a game-changer for the spouse who has been feeling left in the shadows of success.
This is not limited to just compliments and criticisms—it also applies to our responses to success and failure. The degree of our reactions to positive news should exceed the degree of our reactions to negative news. When our spouse screws up, he or she knows it because we’re throwing a fit. They know when they have messed up. Yet when they do well, we tend to take it for granted and don’t celebrate it. The degree of celebration we have over successes should exceed the degree of disappointment we show in “failures.” It’s easy to be frustrated when the losses impact the family, but when things go well, it’s crucial to celebrate the wins with the same vigor. Expressing frustration is easy. We often do it without even thinking about it. Because of this, it is imperative to build the muscle of appreciation to fortify the marriage.
Praise in Action
Begin paying attention to your compliment-to-criticism ratio by trying out these different strategies. Consider sitting down with a pen and sheet of paper and making two lists of all the criticisms and compliments you expressed in the last twenty-four-hours. Write down every single one you can remember, regardless of how significant or inconsequential it may seem. When you’re finished, check to see which column is longer. Examine each line on your list. If the list of criticisms outnumbers the list of compliments, get to work on what you appreciate about your spouse. Work on that list until it exceeds the list of complaints. Seal the deal by sharing your newfound appreciation with your spouse.
Practice the art of the compliment. Giving compliments can generate positive perspective in oneself. Earlier in this chapter, I described how the same qualities can be seen as strengths or weaknesses, depending on our perspective and the context in which we view them. When you verbalize your appreciation rather than focus on complaints, it will cultivate your partner’s traits as strengths and draw out more of his or her good, inspiring qualities. Isn’t THAT the person you’d rather be married to anyway? Choose your view wisely, because it will determine who shows up for you.
Showing appreciation for each other
Showing appreciation for each other in simple ways on a daily basis can contribute to building a powerful and long-lasting relationship. For instance, consider something as easy as leaving notes in a wallet or near the coffeepot. What if we could start the morning with a compliment? Consider how it would feel to face every day with words of encouragement from your spouse. It could be like adding sweet sugar to your bitter coffee. Try this experiment: For one week, begin and end each day with a compliment to your spouse. Observe what changes, including how you and your partner feel about each other and your relationship.
The art of the compliment
The art of the compliment involves intentionality. It’s about enacting and verbalizing your appreciation toward your spouse, rather than just taking his or her good qualities and successes for granted. Speak to your appreciation of what your partner is providing for you. Begin with his or her name, and then acknowledge a quality you normally don’t recognize verbally; it can be a physical characteristic, an achievement, a personal quality, or a mind-set. Then share how it makes a difference in your life. You might say something like, “Renee, your intuition is always spot-on. Every time I honor your intuition, it saves me from so many headaches.”
Remember, acknowledge all the ways your partner contributes to the relationship: intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, socially, sexually, and/or financially. We want to become conscious of everything we are receiving and cultivate more of what is going well in our lives.
Praise can also be used as a mirror and a tool of accountability for when our spouse’s strengths have turned into weaknesses. When you need to criticize, frame the statement in a way that is supportive and productive. Remember how a strength (like passion) can become distorted through a high-pressure situation and show up as a weakness (like anger). So when you want to be critical and blame, take a moment to reframe the statement as praise: “I can tell you’re under a lot of pressure. You’re at your best when you’re creative and rested. Right now, this isn’t you. How can we shift you back into your strength?”
Have an open attitude toward what you try, and keep in mind that these are just general recipes. The key concept is that there should be more compliments than criticisms in your relationship.
Find your partner’s power phrase
Find your partner’s power phrase. When my superman, David, talks about losing his business in bankruptcy court, he mentions how it was my affirmations that kept him alive. I sent him emails and texts not only to validate him, but also to remind him of his ability, purpose, and greater vision. My love for David was for who he was, and I believed in him. I saw his genius and nurtured his inherent strengths rather than reacting in panic to the external chaos he was experiencing. I recognized how there were specific and deliberate phrases that resonated with him: “I’m behind you all the way.” “You’ve got this.” “If anyone can do it, you can.” Those platitudes sustained him in his darkest hours.
Discovering your own power phrase, as well as the power phrase of your partner, is crucial—but most people don’t know what words will help encourage them and they don’t know what their spouses need to hear. A person’s power phrase is directly tied to our deepest fears. Verbally speaking out against these silent fears helps remind us of a more empowering truth, and that keeps us out of our caves of insecurity.
What are your fears?
My deepest fear is that I’ll screw up my kids. The power phrase I need to hear is this: “The way you see and nurture your children as individuals is empowering them to create their own extraordinary lives.” I need to hear this from the person I am closest with, because it’s an affirmation of how I can choose to believe in my vision instead of my insecurities and fear.
Fear is a vulnerable space we enter. It is one that is deeply intimate, and one where we must practice our greatest compassion and trust. To find your partner’s power phrase, you must first discover his or her greatest insecurity and understand that this insecurity comes from fear. We can choose to support each other in the areas in which we are most vulnerable by speaking to our appreciation and cultivating steadfast belief, strength, and love.
I’ve worked with couples that, at the beginning of our coaching sessions, were not even aware of how much they were struggling. These couples were simply resigned to what their marriage had become and were going through the motions. When we began discussing their issues and these concepts behind praise, I watched as they took a moment to look at each other through a perspective of deep regard. With their relationships reinvigorated on the spot, it was like they were seeing each other on their first day of marriage.
To love someone means to see them– all of them. It means to see them as their brightest, most alive and active self. To see them at their most valuable and insecure self. When you love someone and you can see them at their most basic, human level, then you can appreciate what is more important to them. This is where love grows. This is how the bonds of a relationship strengthen.
The following excerpt is from Kelly Clements’ book The Power of Play, Praise and Purpose. Get the FREE eBook below.
Time away from work is good, but it’s the power of play that truly rejuvenates and builds sustainability in marriage and business for entrepreneurial couples.
Yes! It’s time to talk about the fun stuff: PLAY! I’m super-passionate about play; in fact, I even have my degree in it! That’s right, I have a bachelor of science in recreation. My passion for play is evident in all areas of my life, especially in my coaching. I use the “power of play” to reconnect spouses to how and why they fell in love in the first place. When I’m coaching a group workshop or working with a new client, one of the first questions I ask is, “How did you meet and when did you know your partner was the one?” The answers are almost always rooted in play, and that gives me crucial insight into how to get the couple back to basics when challenges arise.
My favorite couple that illustrates this is Katie and Larry, whose marriage began to suffer when they stopped engaging in the passion and fun that had brought them together.
By trade, Katie is a designer and Larry is a builder. In lifestyle, these two couldn’t be more different from each other: think “heiress debutant” meets “rocker bad boy.” In a hundred years, I would never have paired up these two— until I first heard them talk about their dating days. Katie lit up when she remembered how much bigger her world became with Larry, who has a passion for racing cars. She was exposed to a new, tight-knit community in the racing world. She brought appetizers to share with the other wives and girlfriends at the racing events, and seeing Larry in his element made him even more attractive to her. Katie loved watching him in his race car, conquering his dreams.
The slow fade
The slow fade began a couple of years after the wedding. Katie stopped going out to Larry’s races and became reacquainted with her old hobbies of yoga and antiquing. In her mind, she was being supportive, because she was always encouraging Larry and never complained about his absence when he returned from a race weekend. Larry, on the other hand, was gutted. Races just weren’t the same without his girl cheering him on from the stands.
What was even more detrimental was that Katie stopped seeing Larry in that badass light she adored so much. Without watching her guy in his element, she only saw the “builder” version of Larry, who could seem angry, burnt-out, and tiresome. Katie had made a good move by pursuing her own passions, but where she and Larry both fell short was in the area of sharing in each other’s enjoyment; they had stopped playing together. When Katie sees Larry fully engaged and alive in his passion for racing cars, she remembers why she chose him as a partner. It is via play that our greatest strengths are revealed. Play diffuses unnecessary tension and reflects our highest connection in relationships. It helps to heal the damaged inner child that tends to cause so many problems in a love relationship.
Sometimes we stop playing altogether.
As entrepreneurs, we can become so enthralled with work that we stop playing altogether. We use excuses like, “my work is my hobby” or “I love work so much, it doesn’t feel like work!” When this mantra is adopted, entrepreneurial tendencies seep into the home—hence the lack of balance. You’ll know this has happened when you see these signs:
1) The spouse starts to feel like an employee. Spouses often share with me that they can feel more like an employee than a spouse. “He’s so good at delegating at the office, that he won’t do ANYTHING at home unless he wants to do it.” This comes across as disengagement at home AND it compounds the workload of the spouse—both of which prevent opportunities to play together.
2) The business gets the best of him while his spouse gets the rest of him. Coming home after a long day, severely depleted, on a constant basis robs the spouse of the emotional connection she craves to create and sustain a powerful love relationship.
3) All of the family’s travel plans revolve around business trips and conferences. This can lead the spouse to stop dreaming for herself, because she gets the sense it’s just her job to keep up with the inertia of the business.
For all of these tendencies, we look to an “f-word” for relief: “flow.”
Flow and Play are Equal Opportunity Restorers
If you live with an entrepreneur, you’ve probably heard the term “flow” or “flow state” before. These terms refer to the zone that entrepreneurs get into when they are working in the sweet spot of their business. It’s in “the zone” where time stands still and everything else seems to fade away. During flow states, superior breakthroughs “flow” through the business owner with very little effort and yield extraordinary results. Concepts of time and space disappear and a euphoric mental state is achieved.
In his book The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, author, journalist, and entrepreneur Steven Kotler has written about the neurochemical changes during flow states that strengthen motivation, creativity, and learning. “The brain produces a giant cascade of neurochemistry. You get norepinephrine, dopamine, anandamide, serotonin, and endorphins. All five of these are performance-enhancing neurochemicals,” said Kotler in the publication “Big Think.” Each of these amplifies intellectual and cognitive performance.
Basically, we’re talking about a euphoric cocktail of fulfillment and productivity. This is precisely the reason entrepreneurs have such a hard time disconnecting from their work. Work is where they get their fix. Achieving flow can be addictive for all the right reasons. However, that hit of flow often results in addiction, just like any other drug. We call this addiction “workaholism.”
Entrepreneurs aren’t the only ones who experience flow.
Entrepreneurs aren’t the only ones who experience flow. Artists and athletes achieve flow states as well. Do you see a common thread here? Dancers, musicians, artists, basketball players, football players, etc.—they are out playing for a living, and they are the ones who most often experience flow. To help balance the work-life scales, your best strategy is to incorporate the same sense of euphoria into your personal life. This is best achieved through play. When you consider play, the goal is to achieve “carefree timelessness”— a state in which you lose track of time and the distracting roles and responsibilities of your day-to-day life. In play, you reconnect with your partner and engage in pleasurable activities that you both enjoy. This puts you into a shared zone of euphoria together and fosters a healthy environment to build sustainable and growing love.
For spouses, this can seem like a pipe dream. The good news is, you’re about to learn the delegation strategies successful entrepreneurs use to grow their business, and use them to grow in your life. You’ll need to shed the activities that drain you to make room for ones that will help you achieve flow. In order to make room for the life you’ll love, you’ll need to let go of the things that no longer serve you.
Start focusing on doing more of the activities you enjoy and fewer of the activities that exhaust and deplete you.
Start focusing on doing more of the activities you enjoy and fewer of the activities that exhaust and deplete you. Make a list all the things you are responsible for on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. What are the activities on your list that you absolutely dread? How about the things that you simply tolerate because no one else will do them? As those activities come to mind, I want you to figure out how to get rid of them. This can mean assigning them to someone else or deleting them entirely from your calendar.
As you consider these activities, be careful of the tendency to “should” on yourself. Often, when it comes time for spouses to delegate, a degree of guilt takes over. “My partner works so hard in the business, I really should be available to do more of this tedious stuff.” Maybe, but my experience as a business consultant and coach tells me that entrepreneurs are better served by a happy, fulfilled spouse than one who is burnt out and trying to give from the proverbial “empty cup.” More important, the spouse has the opportunity to discover the line between support and self-care. Clearing some draining activities from your agenda creates space for you to pursue more engaging, fulfilling activities. This is precisely where you will create time and energy for more play with your partner.
I encourage you to think of your play life as a threelegged race. You and your partner should have one or two personal hobbies that you enjoy separately, but the majority of your recreational time should be spent together. Maybe that involves taking turns participating in each other’s hobbies, or perhaps it means finding a shared interest you both enjoy. For men, in particular, it’s incredibly important to spend recreational time together. In fact, many men would rank recreation second only to sex when they define their ideal relationship.
Prep, Play, Produce: The Rhythm of Work and Play
As entrepreneurs, we are uniquely positioned to maximize play by enjoying the freedom our entrepreneurial path provides. Remember, we work extra hard, so we have to play extra hard to replenish energy spent on the business. It’s time to get back to the reason you chose this crazy path and start cashing in on personal enjoyment. Your free leisure time is a depreciating asset. The longer you wait to cash in, the less enjoyable it is. Use it now, while your kids are young; they’ll cherish the memories long after you’re gone. Use it now, while your spouse still craves time with you; she’ll appreciate you even more. Use it now, while your mind and body are healthy and able; it’ll keep both active and vigorous.
Just like we need systems, processes, and procedures in our business, we require them for our play as well. I suggest implementing a preparation strategy to ensure you keep play as a priority. Preparing for play will maximize your play and ensure you are enjoying high-quality free time with your spouse.
Taking care of logistics
During this time, you’ll ensure all the necessary logistics are taken care of. When preparing for play days, think of everything you will need: Childcare? Carpool assistance? Reservations? Equipment rental? Special clothing? Spend prep days getting everything ready to pull off play so you won’t get bogged down in the mechanics on the play day. On the actual play day, you should aim to wake up in a state of carefree timelessness, confident that all the details have been addressed so you can take life at your own pace. This day is exclusively devoted to enjoyment. Perhaps it’s a leisurely morning before an afternoon hike. Or maybe it’s an early spin class before an afternoon of antiquing. The activity is irrelevant; the goal is shared enjoyment.
Don’t forget about pace
One crucial conversation to have as a couple concerning play days is a discussion about pace. Play days can mean many things to many people, but they tend to go off the rails when individuals have different opinions on the pace of the day. Some crave a calm, leisurely pace with no set agenda. Others crave high-octane, sensory-rich experiences. Neither is right or wrong, but the couple should make sure the expectation is set beforehand. If you and your partner have opposing views, take turns experiencing each other’s preference. Avoid the costly mistake of spending too much free time separately. Remember, the key to having a deeper connection and more to talk about is experiencing life with and through one another. Embracing your differences as an asset will deepen your connection and your own personal development.
Play in Action
The frequency of play in our life boils down to the frequency of play in each day. Every day, regardless of the type of day it is, should have some element of play in it. The following snapshot will help set a gauge for how to integrate more play into your life. You can find a Path to Play Planner here.
Each day, when both the entrepreneur and spouse first get home, connecting with each other for fifteen seconds can change the game. Yes, seconds. That’s all it takes. If you want to be really specific, start that interlude with a six-second hug. Research has shown that it only takes six seconds of an embrace to release oxytocin, the love hormone. You’ve both had long, hard days and when these two worlds collide, it can make for some tense moments. As soon as your partner walks in the door, you’ll need a pattern interrupt, a break from the routine with something new. As soon as you or she walks through the door, seek one another. It takes fifteen seconds to stand face-to-face, kiss, assess each other’s emotion, and realign as a united front. A devoted fifteen seconds each day after work will start to change the tone of your relationship. Bonus points if you a glass of wine or take a walk together every day!
Weekly: Date night. Every week. Every. Single. Week.
Even when you don’t like each other, and especially when you don’t feel like it. My personal trainer’s voice haunts me in these moments. Every time I’m tired and don’t feel like doing another rep, she gently reminds me, “This is where we make our changes.” She’s right. The exact moment you lose the desire or the perceived need for date night is the same moment you need to double down on your dates. Those moments are the gateway to either a more powerful relationship, or a further disconnect. The power is in the play.
My colleagues in Massachusetts, Drs. Stephen and Camilla Franson, have an awesome strategy for this. Upon noticing that conversations about kids and logistics were dominating their date-nights, they implemented “Coffee Breaks.” Coffee Breaks are weekly meetings they have with each other, typically on a Sunday, about managing logistics. Each week, they get out their calendars: work, school, appointments, extra-curricular activities, and they consolidate. They spend a power hour aligning their views on the week ahead, and deciding who needs to be where, when. They also use this time to clean up any messes in their own relationship. Dedicating time to being organized clears the way for them to focus on happier pursuits on their weekly date night.
Monthly: Hotel date night.
This will quickly become one of your favorite nights! Let’s face it; hotel sex is the best sex! It’s a chance to focus exclusively on this crucial piece of our marriage. It’s an unbridled opportunity to pay attention to each other without the threat of waking the kids or trying to turn a blind eye to the laundry hanging over that chair in the bedroom. It removes the excuse of needing to do dishes or pay bills that our households so conveniently present.
There’s also something about the effort and foresight that goes into hotel date night. Spending time packing and preparing for a night away offers us a chance to spice things up by including items that may not otherwise appear in our repertoire. Additionally, getting out of the house together at least once a month offers major leverage in avoiding, or escaping, ruts. It’s a pattern interrupt of the status quo. It’s a golden opportunity to be cared for as a couple, order room service, book a spa appointment together, and have someone else make the beds. This ritual will unleash some of your most playful indulgences!
Quarterly: Weekend getaway.
For the same reasons listed above, a weekend getaway four times a year presents a unique opportunity to grow deeper as a couple. Getting out of our community and visiting other places helps us to keep things in perspective. It adds dimension and richness that other pursuits just don’t deliver. Travel, when done right, changes us. What a gift it is to share those unique experiences with each other!
Annual: Full-week getaway.
If you have young kids, this can be challenging. In fact, lack of childcare is the biggest obstacle most couples face in executing on this crucial task—or in spending any time alone together, for that matter. Ensuring your kids are not only cared for, but also entertained, will allow these experiences to be even more enjoyable. Consider asking another family to swap weeks with you so you can take turns getting away. Or find an overnight camp that will ensure the kids don’t even know you’re gone.
Once we get back to that carefree place of enjoying each other, we can see each other’s strengths again. Through play, we get back to where we can see our spouse’s qualities as strengths and recognize the things that we appreciate in him or her. That way, we can have more of those good, healthy feelings and qualities, as opposed to the logistics and obligations that can stifle a relationship. Couples that play together, stay together. Play well, and play often!
But the more and more I began to work with entrepreneurial women, I recognized they needed more than just Play, Praise, and Purpose.
They needed Provision, Protection, and Pursuit.
When I talked about this with my couples (there were about 30 in the room), there was one strategy that was considered a total BALLER move.
And it’s so basic. So easy. And makes a massive difference.
What was it?
To take care of her car.
That’s it! That’s the one simple thing that husbands can do for their working wives! Make sure there’s always gas in her car. That her tires are safe. That it’s up to speed with all its maintenance. It was the one thing that the women raved about!
So fellas, if this has fallen off your list, make it happen, Cap’n 😉
And ladies, remember, what we appreciate, appreciated. Want more of the good stuff? Keep speaking into it!
Alright, that’s all for now. Off to learn and play and grow and connect- Because women succeed in community and I’ve found mine! Join me!
I know you want success. And I know the more success you create, the more you want your partner to keep up. You dream of being that ‘Power Couple’ that shares big goals and dreams and creates a huge life together. I know because I’ve been there and I’m sharing this story with you today because inside this desire, I found the key. If you’ve heard me speak from stage, this may be a refresher for you. If you’re new here, settle in and enjoy!
The first time I was asked to speak at an all women’s business conference, I declined. I was scared.
I thought I was scared because my message of “play more” and “praise more” would likely get a huge eye-roll from powerful women. It DEFINITELY didn’t fit the women’s lib movement that was rapidly unfolding. It might even be considered anti-feminist by some. I know there was a point in my own life that my message would have made me gag a little.
I shared my concerns with the meeting organizer and she said, “No Kelly, women need this. I’m responsible for advancing women through the ranks of the financial industry, and one of the rungs on their ladder to success seems to be divorce. It’s like the more successful they get, the more their marriages unravel. We need help figuring this out.”
It felt like a gut-punch.
That’s when I realized the reason I was scared to speak to alpha females wasn’t because I thought they would reject my message. I KNEW they needed it.
I was scared because for the first time in my speaking career, I wouldn’t be talking about how I overcame being the “victim”.
I was the villain, not the victim
In this case, I would have to talk about being the VILLAIN.
I would have to talk about my divorce and how it took losing half my nights, weekends, and holidays with my kids to understand my role in the divorce.
I would have to talk about how I criticized my husband a hundred times more than I complimented him- and how the more I “coached” him, the weaker he got.
I would have to talk about all the times I compared him to “more successful” men.
I would have to confess about all the respect I lost for him when he wasn’t meeting my unrealistic expectations.
Ugh. I would have to face the demise that my words alone created. On stage. In front of my peers.
My mind raced the entire time I was up there. “Are they getting this?” I wondered. “Are they judging me? Can they relate?”
As I wrapped up, not one person clapped. In fact, no one even moved. I wanted to die.
And so, I waited
Eventually, one woman said, “Wow, I’m feeling pretty guilty right now. I do everything you just described and I never connected the dots that it’s my constant criticism that has shut my man down.”
Then, another woman volunteered, “While you were talking, I texted my husband to say thank you for all he does, and he wrote back, ‘What’s wrong? Are you having an affair? Why the sudden kindness?’”
One by one, the audience shared breakthroughs of how they hold their success over their husband’s head. How they compete within the marriage, but every time they win the competition, they lose respect for their partner.
And it’s a conversation I’ve been having with women ever since.
Our sucess matters, but…
Our success matters. Our excellence, contribution and acceptance MATTERS. And watching women rightfully (and finally) assume their place at the top inspires me every single day. (Keep going!!)
But I think what we’re missing is that, at times, we’re perpetuating the very same problem we are trying to overcome. We are degrading our men, not with our sexist remarks about them “looking hot that day”, but by constantly showing them how they’re falling short. How they’re not measuring up. How they’re not good enough for us.
There is a funny thing about men; they have this way of proving us right!! When we tell them they aren’t good enough, they shut down, put in less effort, and prove us right. But when we affirm them and recognize their strengths- they become King Kong and put in this gallant effort to try and impress us even more.
Could they REALLY be this simple? Could they REALLY only require, food, water, sex, and a little praise?
You tell me.
Try this experiment for a week
Try this experiment for the next week and see if you get to go to bed every night with a better husband:
1) Give him two compliments for every complaint.
That’s it. Find ways to speak into what’s working.
Try this for one week and see what happens.
I’ll be back next week with some tips for the guys on ways to REALLY earn and keep her RESPECT. Cause when she respects you, brother, you’ve got the keys to the kingdom!
I love you and I love love. Be good to one another!
P.S. If you want daily inspiration, please follow me on the social media links below.
Women’s History Month: Honoring Women Who Accept Help
Many times I hear entrepreneur spouses talk about the invisible workload of women. I received an email this morning that sounded so familiar.
With permission, I’m sharing her story for validation that it’s okay to accept help. More help. All the help you need to live the life you’re capable of.
*** Kelly, it was so wonderful to meet you in Laguna Beach. I truly meant it when I said, I could leave after your session and feel completed.
I have felt for a while that God was calling me to share more on our marriage and how we have made it work for almost 25 years now.
It takes a lot of hands to lead a big life, and accepting more help is the first step to truly stepping into your power:
One quick story of our marriage that changed my life and the way “I” viewed myself and our marriage.
My husband and I met through the industry (I was his sales gal) and after marriage I immediately started working in his business and we became partners on many levels.
At the time of this story, we had 3 little ones at the time – ages 7, 5, 2.
It was a Friday night and I had worked so many hours that week on a huge annual project. I picked up the two older kids at Montessori and the youngest was at home with our part time Nanny. After I relieved her, I made dinner and went to the laundry room and started sorting the huge piles of laundry. I felt overwhelmed and did not have enough hours in my day to do it all – and I was superwoman and MUST DO IT ALL.
No time to just sit around anymore!
My husband entered the laundry room as I sat there in the middle of piles of dirty clothes and he asked if I was going to come up and watch a movie with him and the kids as he missed the times of us just sitting together. I snapped and said I miss those times too…. But we got married, had kids, work countless hours at growing our business …. There is no time to just sit around anymore and this laundry is certainly not going to do itself so you head on up and relax and I will stay down here and do the laundry.
He stood there and looked at me with such sadness and said… I am so sorry you are this unhappy with our life. I snapped again and said what do you mean unhappy we have everything (healthy kids, nice home, growing business). His response was you certainly do not sound happy or look happy.
“It’s your choice…”
He proceeded to say in a stern but loving voice. I have asked you many times to get more help at the house but you refuse and want to do everything yourself. It is YOUR choice to stay down here tonight by yourself and do the laundry. I am opening up a nice bottle of wine and pouring two glasses. It is my hope that you take a moment to think about this and you will leave this laundry and come upstairs and have a glass of wine with me, cuddle with the kids and be together as a family. When today ends, we will never get it back and I hope you will remember this day as a day that ended happy and not angry in the laundry room.
He left and I felt like I had been hit right in the heart. The problem was ME and he called me out. As he walked away, I knew I had to change. Thankfully I went up and had that wine, snuggled with the kids and will always remember that day as a life changing day in realizing that it is ok to ask for help and that it was not a sign of weakness.
Marriage is not always easy
Marriage is not always easy, it is not always fun, it is not always what you thought or hoped it would be. But for us…. We WORK at it, and sometimes the work is fun and sometimes the work is hard. I think it was you that mentioned the three-legged race…. It was so ironic as years ago in a Bible Study I refereed to our marriage as a three-legged race…. Me one leg, my husband the other leg and God as the middle leg that keeps the others in sync. I give God all the glory for our marriage….
Ladies, you DON’T have to be, do, and have it all. The last thing we need is more exhausted, depleted, overworked women.
It’s the term most people automatically associate with Michelle, so you
may assume this is about her support, encouragement, or grace.
But that would degrade her real super power.
See, First Lady was an identity bestowed upon her by her husband’s dreams, her husband’s pursuits, her husband’s success.
As a result, she found herself smack in the middle of the most powerful
office on earth. All eyes were on her through the lens of her
Can you imagine how easy it would be to
lose yourself to THAT gravitational pull? Being the wife of the most
powerful man on earth?
As a driven, ambitious, successful woman herself, this had to come with some degree of marital competition or jealousy.
And this is where her super power that sets her apart comes in: SELF CARE.
In her book, Becoming, and her book tour that followed, Michelle has
been open about her season of marital hatred toward her husband.
As a new mom, she had left a career she loved and was now “stuck at
home” with her young kids. She watched her husband’s career escalate
while she stayed home, alone, because her partner was gone more than
half the time. She grew to resent him.
So much so that she
hauled him into therapy- CERTAIN their counselor would back her up and
help convince him to get himself together.
Except that didn’t happen.
Instead, their counselor helped her realize that she had given up control over her own happiness.
As women we do that sometimes, don’t we? Assign our partners complete responsibility over our happiness?
And this breakthrough changed the game for her. She explains:
“I was looking to my husband to make me happy. And I realized I’m
responsible for my happiness. I’m responsible for how I prioritize my
life. And I can’t be mad at him because he prioritizes his life
differently and better.”
So when the Obamas took office, she said
the FIRST thing she did was schedule out their priorities. She blocked
their calendar for important family trips, events with the girls, her
workout routines, time with her girlfriends, and all the other
activities that made her feel alive.
Having all this in place
safe guarded her personal identity as MICHELLE. As a result, she
depended less on her husband to fulfill all her needs. She stood as her
own ray of light.
And this is what helped them shine as the united Power Couple that captured the hearts of so many.
Two extraordinary people, one extraordinary relationship. 🙌
Of course Wake Up Warrior are the first faces I see this morning on the way to my presentation. Of course they are.
As I walked to my playground, where I get to speak to wives of entrepreneurs on the power of their role and how crucial it is for them to understand the power of feminine and sinking into that through play, praise, and purpose I see the men in black.
They were preparing for their own battle. Armed with their Core Four principals designed to weaponize men to be better husbands.
We had a moment of awe and connection that we get to do this yin and yang work together. On separate yet parallel paths- both leading men and women to be better to themselves and one another.
Serving a purpose while developing a marriage can sometimes feel like competing agendas. Both purpose and a marriage require intense devotion, support, and a long-term vision.
But when one person is purpose driven, and the marital partner isn’t- trouble can strike. The purpose-driven partner can start to feel isolated in his or her quest for changing the world. They can start to feel guilty for pouring so much time into their purpose, while the spouse or family waits at home. They can even start to feel disconnected from their spouse because they lack a connection on something that is so crucial to them, yet their spouse doesn’t necessarily relate.
It’s no picnic for the spouse either. Waking up every day, watching your partner walk out the door with a vision to change the world can shine a light on their lack of purpose. It can often feel like the business gets the best of their partner, while they get the rest of them. And, it can feel like so much of life orbits around the business/purpose, there isn’t time or space for them to add their own passion to the mix.
Enter The Entreprenewer. The Entreprenewer is a program for the women of entrepreneurial households. It is designed to level the playing field between business and marriage. Our time together will restore the crucial sense of Play, Praise, and Purpose women need to grow in business and marriage.
Contact me for details to see if this is right for you and your spouse.