We are married and business partners. Say what? Yes, that means my husband is my coworker. Wowza! Sometimes it is distracting to say the least.
Ever wonder what it is like to be married to your business partner? Today I will share a behind the scenes look at how Jon and I navigate our business relationship in the context of our marriage. Further, I share a unique vantage point, one that is rarely talked about. But, let’s begin with a little background information.
If you are familiar with my company, you know I am a survivor of domestic violence. As such, I have first-hand experience with the anguish of a toxic spousal relationship. Thankfully, that violent marriage ended long ago.
Today I am in a new season of life. While recovery remains long term, this new season contains profound joy. I am fortunate to have a new marriage full of rich blessings. In this new chapter, I founded Bright Hope Soap Works with my husband. It is a testimony about how God creates beauty from ashes. He exchanges mourning with the oil of gladness (Isaiah 61:3).
Believe me, I know the powerful truth behind this statement:
Your marriage will either make you or break you in life.
Indeed, this principle applies to business. Your marriage makes or breaks your business. Jon and I both know that broken side all too well. Our success as married and business partners stems from the wisdom and experience we gained through our brokenness. Overcoming this pain meant we embraced hardship as an opportunity to for growth. We can learn so much from the hardship, tragedies, and yes – even the failure.
Married and business partners: A different perspective
Many entrepreneurs share insights about marriage to their business partner. Most share long and successful marriages. But rarely do you ever hear from couples who have remarried, rebuilt their lives, and are business partners. There is a good reason too. Divorce is painful. Many times the wounds remain raw and for a lifetime. To be sure, unreconciled bitterness and resentment leave us emotionally stuck. However, leaning into failure as a tool to grow helps us move into a better future because we learn from the hardship. Further, divorce rates are high. It is a cold hard reality that many people endure this heartache. Not talking about it doesn’t change the rates. Nor does it offer hope to those who endured it.
Hope and freedom after heartache
My aim in sharing our story is to affirm there is life, love, and joy after divorce. Our experience with brokenness gives us a unique vantage point of recovery and rebuilding after heartache. Not only did we find success in running a business together, working together as married and business partners helped us heal. God indeed blessed our broken road. We have now experienced the opposite side of the make or break coin.
In this article I will share the primary source of our success. I will give you a peek at the nitty gritty details of how we navigate our business as a redeemed couple. Finally, I will answer this critical question:
Is it possible to recover from such a painful failure?
Is it possible to recover from such painful failure?
The answer to this question is emphatically yes. The recovery from trauma is not easy. Ups and downs, forward steps and backward steps litter the path. However, there are a few principles that helped us in our journey.
The primary source of our success as married and business partners
Believe me, there is no shortage of advice on how to save a marriage. Both of received it at various stages in our past lives. Despite working hard to avoid negative outcomes, we found ourselves devastated as the gavel of dissolution dropped.
Once you have experienced this level of brokenness, the possibility of doing it again haunts you. Early on, we worried about repeating history. Yet, we found joy inexpressible from the beginning that left us dumbfounded. This new chapter is beyond all we could ask for or imagine. How is this possible? Believe me, we have spent many years trying to articulate an answer to this question. Our conclusion? The primary source of our current success is only attributable to the grace of God.
Attraction to God = attracted couple
Our brokenness drove us to the foot of the cross. The only solution to the pain was in a more intimate relationship with our redeemer. It was there before the feet of Jesus that Jon and I found each other during our recovery. Our attraction to each other centered around witnessing each other’s unwavering devotion to God. This foundation gave us grace and compassion toward each other as we began to build a life together.
Domestic violence’s impact & strategies I used for victory
Truthfully, I will deal with the residual impact of trauma the rest of my life. It is a reality of my journey. Just what effect has it had on me?
Domestic violence helped me become courageous, fearful, resilient, anxious, compassionate, timid, and bold person I am today. Whew! Did you catch all the contradictions in that one sentence? This is the impact of trauma.
However, developing mastery over the undesirable emotions while capitalizing on the positive ones led to amazing opportunities. Growth allowed me to impact the lives of others in my circle of influence.
Turning brokenness into traction for growth
Jon and I believe that our brokenness formed us into the people we are today. We found benefits associated with growth after failure. When experiencing hardship, it helps you to identify who you are and what you stand for. You learn how to develop coping skills. Every time you experience pain, failure, and rejection you step deeper into who you truly are, what you stand for and you learn how strong you are. You discover what you are made of and how to get back up. You can develop confidence as you rebuild. Through those hard times you learn so much.
Despite the challenges I endured, God’s grace allowed me to emphasize the good I gained during that hardship and downplay the negative. Doing so enabled me to turn away from victimhood to victorious living. As a result, the social ill did not immobilize me. Instead, I gained momentum to build a business that shares hope and joy with those who encounter us.
Can you ever learn to love again?
It is normal to want to avoid pain. No one wants to repeat a painful experience again. It is not uncommon for those who experience relationship failure to build walls around their hearts. This kind of loss is deeply personal. However, even though those walls prevent future hurt again, we limit ourselves from experiencing the fullness of joy. Learning to love again means addressing the pain, grieving the loss, and redefining the experience.
Our supportive relationship gave us a special companionship. That became the springboard for us each grieve and rebuild. Learning to love again means deep down inside we choose hope over despair (Jeremiah 29:11)
How to trust someone after such a deeply personal violation?
Learning to trust again after such a personal violation is no easy task. Trusting became easier when I learned to embrace pain as a natural part of this life. It is important to understand that heartache is no respecter of persons. People disappoint, hurt, and abuse us. However, our mindset determines how to move forward. My trust of people is dwarfed by my trust in God. Simply, I trust God allowed me to endure anguish in a variety of forms to grow me into the person I am today. I am less resistant and fearful of trials when I keep this truth at the forefront of my mind.
How do we share decision making after my experience with abuse of power?
Being married and business partners means decisions must be made. At the very heart of domestic violence is an imbalance of power. My voice was silenced in all domains of my life. It is not uncommon for women who experience this power imbalance to overcompensate for their oppression in the past. We dominate out of fear to prevent victimization once again. Simply, awareness of this tendency helped me be proactive in achieving different results. By and large, I make a majority of the decisions asking for Jon’s feedback on significant matters. He offers suggestions trusting me to guide the business well.
Mutual Respect Promotes Healing and Balance
Jon always displayed a deep respect for me as a person. He relies on my input as much as I rely on his input. Initially, it was hard to join in the decision making process. Jon still recalls early in our marriage how hard it was for me to contribute. He asked where I would like to eat, at what restaurant. I told him wherever he would like to eat. You see, abusers forbid input great or small. Sharing input required a new skill set for me. Jon insisted I contribute to decision making in all areas of our marriage. His respect for me make it easier to share.
The joy and privilege of working together as a couple comes from our profound respect for our individual giftings. Jon has skills and gifts that he brings to the table in our business that I do not have and vice versa. Above all, we truly value each other’s input. His reassurance of my gifts enabled me to take more risks and develop more confidence.
Final thoughts about being married and business partners
Being married and business partners provides a watching world a view of the gospel. When husband and wife use their individual gifts collectively in a business, it impacts those who encounter them. Couples can reflect Christ in every transaction.
As a couple who experienced the anguish of divorce, we are in a unique position to share hope. God brought us out of the ashes, out of the rubble, restoring us, rebuilding a life that was better than ever. As a result, we offer hope to those hurt.
Jon and I demonstrate you can love, trust, and live again. In fact, God is a master of rebuilding waste places for the purpose of displaying His Glory. We marvel at the joy and peace we have in our marriage and business. Many insist that contention in marriage is the norm and remarriage even more so. This has not been true for us. Our goal openly sharing our story that others will be set free and experience bright hope.