#64 Ron’s Wrap Up – Encouragement every supportive spouse needs to hear
It’s Ron’s turn to divulge what it’s really like being married to yours truly – an excitable entrepreneur working her tail off to drive this start-up toward success and maximize its impact in people’s lives around the world. It’s not always pretty. In fact, the ‘ugly’ rears its head many times in a week, if not on a daily basis. In this insightful message, Ron draws pertinent lines between the role of an entrepreneur’s spouse and that of the Stay@Home Expert, and encourages those of you wearing either hat that you are absolutely critical to your spouse’s success. The fact of the matter is, the words you speak and the stories you tell can bring life or death in your home and to a project. Tune in to find out how you can choose life.
I want to encourage you that what you are doing is critical for your spouse’s success and that the words you choose and the stories you tell can bring life or death in your home and to a project.
It’s not all roses
Ally and I have been married for 6 years, going on seven. With every passing year, she has shown more and more interest in doing her own thing and finding fulfillment and opportunity in being an entrepreneur. I’ve always supported her in all her endeavors, and although it has been an exciting journey I have to say it hasn’t been all that easy.
How hard can it actually be??
Being the spouse of an entrepreneur comes with its unique challenges. Challenges that I thought I could handle, but being this far into our entrepreneur journey I find myself subscribing to the saying: “the devil is in the details”. I say this because, in the beginning, I thought to myself, “self, how hard could this be?” Your wife is doing something she loves and she is not only good, but actually really great at it. But with every step into this entrepreneur journey, it has become clearer and clearer that there were many details in the big decisions that I had not thought of and as they rose to the surface how I reacted and dealt with them have given me insight that I want to share with you for this weeks wrap up. Now, don’t hit stop if you’re not married to an entrepreneur. If you’re married and your spouse is off building their own empire so to speak, whether it has their name on it, or whether they’re working hard for the man, there’s something here for you.
When reality sets in
At this point, it’s very early on in the start up process and Ally is rightfully taking every opportunity to build the business. Well, this means that her schedule has become quite unpredictable and her free time is filled with interviewing, editing, or creating content. She’s not absent, but her time with the girls is scheduled and intentional… and sometimes limited when it’s down to a deadline. That’s where I come in. Let’s just say I’ve picked up a lot of baby hours over the past 3 months. Call it a duty or expectation to watch my kids, I’ve been apt to even call it work.
My kids take everything I’ve got
Now those of you listening who have kids would agree that some days, our kids are work. At this stage of life taking care of Brie and Jojo takes time, effort and lots of energy, something that I have to confess I don’t bring enough of, or sometimes just don’t have. So, part of this journey, has required that I take on more of the responsibility of childcare so that Ally can focus on the business. Now as you can probably already tell, that in the beginning, its not so bad, but after a day or two it wears on you and it continues to get harder with every passing day. Don’t get me wrong, my girls and I have our moments that are fun, happy and just flat out great and I revel in those moments, but they are balanced by the tantrums, attitudes, selfishness, and disobedience that really challenge me as a parent.
For instance this Tuesday, the girls were off early from school and since this is Chinese new year, I was also off. Ally and I had agreed that she would take a few days and stay at a friends house to dog sit without the family so that she could focus on getting as much done as she could early this week since she would have the girls next week, when I go back to work. So we get home and Brie remembers her tattoos and proceeds to dig up a couple of them from within a pile of other papers and asks if she and Jojo could put them on. I say yes and she proceeds to get all the things she needs to make it work. All goes well and we apply the tattoo on and they go happily to sleep for their nap. Well, unfortunately Brie did not give her tattoo enough time to dry and as she was getting into bed she accidentally rubbed off a part of her tattoo on her foot. Well, this did not bode well for my precious four year old. You would have thought her foot had rubbed off! And she proceeds to let me know of her great disappointment by wailing about how her once beautiful tattoo was now a disfigured mess on her foot. I tell her that its ok, go through all the motions that any parent would, to calm her down, but to no avail. She continues to cry which leads to threats on my part to remove the tattoo and not allow her to have any more tattoos ever in her life if she won’t calm down. Well, that did not work either. So after much consoling, threatening, consoling, threatening, I realized that she just wanted to be able to have a new one and all I wanted was for her to sleep. So I told her that I would remove her tattoo and later after her nap she would get a new one. Well, that was all it took and she went quietly to bed. There are many of these moments where Brie is adamant about what she wants and I’m the same and it leads to greater frustration for both parties involved. It is in these moments that I miss the tag team my wife and I do so beautifully together and I find it so hard to be taking on more the parenting responsibilities solo so that my wife can focus on building the business. These are those moments that I realize that there was more work involved then I had originally thought.
Anyone feeling me?
Do you feel the same? For those of you whose spouses work late nights or travel and leave you to console, feed, bath, counsel, discipline, praise, teach, admonish, love, and tuck in your kids every day, maybe I’m striking a chord, or maybe you’re rolling your eyes thinking, Deal with it buddy! I’m working on dealing, but I know you can agree that it gets hard especially because of my second point.
My wife is changing the world
I mean it! When she gets home she tells me, “Honey read this from this listener or, I just got this message from this listener, we are doing amazing things.” Really? ‘Cause you should have seen JoJo’s amazing diaper about an hour ago! Let’s face it, I’m not the one talking to these really cool people and I’m not the host, she is. I don’t see myself as part of her project because I’m not involved in her daily grind of creating great content, connecting with amazing people and helping those of you that are listening become more encouraged and excited about moving to China or about living here. To me, this is her world in front of this mic and it is definitely separate from my realm of spilled milk and tangled hair.
The game changer – time to re-frame
Just in the nick of time, I had a reading this week and it brought me back; back to the power of words. It started by saying that, “the words of the tongue should have three gatekeepers: Is it true, is it kind, is it necessary?” Now, I’m going to move in a different direction from that saying. In a direction not only about keeping a check on my words, but more on focusing on the power they hold. This phrase reminded me of the power that words have not only over others but especially over ourselves. Words powerfully shape realities, circumstances and behaviors. What we speak has immense implications for our lives and futures. So I did a little re-framing exercise to see if I could take my two biggest challenges of being married to an entrepreneur, 1) picking up the slack at home, and 2) feeling disconnected from any success and turn them into positives that would carry with them a bit of hope.
Re-framing my time with the kids
First, my children are not work – they are an opportunity. They are a gift. And they actually love spending time with me, which I should be grateful for. When I re-framed and looked at the time I have with my girls as an opportunity and adventure, it changed how I approach them. Rather than sulking or resenting that I have to “parent” them (heaven forbid!) or take care of them, I now see that I have an immense opportunity to influence and raise two really amazing children. This was revolutionary for me. This re-framing of my mind brought renewed energy and excitement about the time that I was able to spend with my girls.
Behind every great man or woman, is their incredible spouse
Secondly, about how little a role I played in my wife’s success. I would describe myself as being open to suggestion and corrections. Luckily my wife is not one to shy away from giving said suggestions and or corrections, and she was quick to show me exactly my incredible role in the grand scheme of any success the Limitless Project is seeing. She put it bluntly: Without me and my support, she couldn’t do what she does. Hands down. It’s that simple. I now understand that I was seeing my role without the context of the big picture, and thus felt disconnected from the project. But with a little re-framing and choosing words and a mindset that give life, I now see, what I do at home, with the kids, outside the home, all work together to empower and allow her to do what she needs to do. So instead of thinking that we are disconnected, I now see that we are connected in everything. What I do helps her and in so doing, I in turn have helped to impact lives as she does. The words I spoke to myself about my children being work and that I had nothing to do with my what wife was doing, created realities for me that then shaped how I saw my wife and kids and also influenced how I interacted with them. When my kids became work, I became resentful, more prone to get angry and be short. When I changed my words and saw them as opportunities, they then become precious and fun and my time with them was really a privilege. The same goes for looking at my support as not connecting with what my wife was doing. It created bitterness, distance and comparison because what I spoke to myself was that I had nothing to do with her impact and what she was doing seemed a lot more exciting and fun than changing dirty diapers. But when I changed my words to say that what I am doing is helping Ally to impact lives, by my actions I, too, am impacting lives. This has helped to bring me greater purpose, resolve and ownership of the project rather then distancing myself from it.
As I take more of the role of the supporting spouse, I am beginning to see how I speak and the words I choose to use influence how I see my life and sometimes ultimately my purpose. This weekly wrap up is an encouragement for supporting spouses and spouses of entrepreneurs that sometimes feel overwhelmed with your kids or disconnected with your spouse and the work that he or she is doing. I want to encourage you that what you are doing is critical for their success (whether they remind you often or not) and that the words you choose and the stories you tell can bring life or death in your home and to a project. I encourage you to choose life. As we start off this Chinese New Year, may you harness the power of words, redefining the negatives areas of thought and action in your life, to strengthen and encourage you through the tough times and the great times ahead. Xian Nian Kuai Le!