Being a CEO is amazing. It’s also an amazing level of responsibility and the stresses that come along with it can easily kill a marriage, even one that was perfectly happy and functional before the promotion.
As a staggering 88% of Americans say they married for love, here’s some advice to help keep that love alive.
1. You’re Not The Boss At Home
A marriage is an interdependent relationship that thrives when there is teamwork. The rigid structures that work well at large companies don’t work nearly as well in a family environment.
While virtually no one in your company will tell you ‘no’ if you’re the CEO, your spouse very much has the right to. The second-biggest reason often cited for divorces involving a CEO is that the CEO was unable to compromise when they got home at the end of the day.
2. Communication Matters
The corporate world rewards decisive, results-oriented problem solvers. That ‘let’s go, let’s move, next thing’ approach can be extremely hard on a partner, however, especially if they prefer to work issues out more slowly or need more time to process their emotions.
To be effective, you have to slow things down when at home. Be curious, and allow ample space for emotion in interactions. This lack of effective communication is a large part of why 48% of marriages dissolve by the time they hit the 20-year mark.
3. Know What Your Partner Wants
It’s easy to forget that the person across the table is, in fact, a person with their own wants and needs when we’re so wrapped up in work. The thing is, we already read and respond to others all day at work.
Leaders often succeed because they understand what motivates their friends — and their enemies. However, at home, CEOs can often forget this skill. This is another area where slower, more open communication works wonders.
4. Court Your Best Customer
Where in business you should always be doing things as though you were interacting with your best customer, you should carry that focus and energy through to your home life as well. You’re always competing for your spouse — maybe not against anyone else, but against their own company and alone time. Make yourself the preferable choice by remembering what first attracted you to them, and them to you. Try to re-find some of that magic in your interactions.
5. Like Marriage, Like Business
Business and marriages tend to fail for similar reasons. There are three main points of failure that can completely break a company and a relationship if you aren’t careful. Not learning from past experiences, not adapting to changing conditions, and ignoring warning signs.
Stay engaged and present in your relationship, unless you want things to go from great to toxic very quickly.
Just like you prioritize your most important tasks at work each day, try to prioritize small things that make your partner feel valued and appreciated when you’re home (and even when you’re not).
CEOs are essentially required to be readily available at nearly every hour of the day. But to say that you never have time for anything outside your job is false. A good place to start is to triage what you both think the most important issue is in the relationship and attend to that first.
The Bottom Line
Children spend around 277 days out of the calendar year with the custodial parent in most divorce cases. Needless to say, this can be very hard on both the child and the second parent.
In order to keep the family unit together, CEOs will be required to ‘switch gears’ and attend to their partners and children with the same sort of focus and a keen understanding that serves them so well in the business world.Published in