“Being entrepreneur’s wife? – No, thank you!”, a lady I knew once said

Being an entrepreneur’s wife has never been a dream come true to me. But it certainly is my everyday challenge. When my husband and I started our software business together, we had no clear strategy how we were going to take care of all the stuff outside the realm of business. But quite soon some underwater cliffs started causing trouble in paradise…

If the two partners are going to be engaged in daily work operations together, side by side so to say – what do they do with the rest of their life – like: family matters, problems with kids, sick parents, everyday chores?

Spending some rather chaotic time trying to simultaneously work hard and take care of kids and other stuff every day as "two modern parents", gave some rather sad results - the most painful of which was the one when our son was kind of “forgotten” in the kindergarten premises until 7 pm, while each of us thought the other one got him. Then, after some long discussions, we came upon an agreement that might be considered a bit old-fashioned for some, but it surely did work fine for us – that was our kind of a “post-nuptial” agreement.

We decided that each of us should do what we felt better doing, or what was also best for the kids. Dividing territories, so to say. One of us was supposed to do “work, work, work”, while the other one was supposed to also take care of house, kids, school matters and family matters, while also working. My husband George laid his hands on “work matters” (let me tell you: he IS able of just working and working until he practically drops), while the “kids and family stuff” was left for whom? – yes, for me. Thank you, George!

Well, it was not that George was bad in taking care of kids, or cooking - he was perfect, especially in bathing very young babies; or that I was bad with working; no, not at all. We always knew we were mutually replaceable, when needed, and we reserved our right to do so. But anyway, there was supposed to be someone our kids could ALWAYS rely on to be there for them and not, say, on the phone or the computer, instead (although sometimes dangerously close to).  So, we made this agreement and we sealed it with love.

I have always had quite a lot of office work back then - as our company’s HR manager, and office manager, and what-not (when our son threw up while waiting for me in the office, I proved to be an excellent janitor as well, and a very fast one!). And yet, I also had two children to take care of, and a house to take care of, and numerous family-related errands to run, which sometimes made me feel I had "signed" a kind of a nasty deal.

George was working endless hours and, as a certified workaholic, he did not seem to bother at first. But he also had moments when he felt really hard done by that agreement of ours. Well, there is no agreement that can make both parties equally unhappy – injustice always rules. But we always did jump efficiently into each other’s fields when situations required. In general, our agreement has worked out great in the long run.

A lady I knew once said: “I hate my husband being an entrepreneur! Living through the nightmare while he is trying to succeed, holding his hand, wiping his tears, calming his fears, staying alone while he is in the office or on business trips, turning myself into a kind of a family slave to HIS children (actually THEIR children but the emphasis worked great)…. And then, when he finally succeeds, he will get a young trophy wife? And I will be left to regret each miserable day of my life as HIS wife? No, thank you!

She made me think how being an entrepreneur’s wife felt to others, and to me. My husband has always worked endless hours a day. I turned in an application for extension of the 24-hour day to at least 36 hours, and yet no answer - the application must have lost its way in God’s files….

George is always busy – on the phone, on the computer, then on the phone again, then, you know, the sequence is predictable… Sometimes he would go away from his computer for some coffee or water, or whatever he needs – but it takes strictly minutes; he hates losing time in “trifles”.

I believe George enjoys going to extremes, even when he could have it easier. For the first ten business years of our life together we had just three vacations, that I can call “something resembling a real vacation” - i.e. seven days spent somewhere far from office (with no each-minute phone calls!), traveling, having fun…. Mind you, all three included FLYING abroad (Western Europe, Turkey, Sweden), which was really nice time for us. I could have considered those as a significant recreation time if only there was not a three-year span between each two of them. So much so with vacationing.

The rest was just miserable attempts to go on those couple-of-days trips, when the phone was our constant companion, and we carried a computer with us to “just upload the numerous photos” (not more than 100 altogether per trip) that we would take…. If that sounds familiar to some of you, then you know what it might feel like.

No matter how strange it might sound to people not related to business, well, this has been the only life I know and I love every second of it.

Sometimes I fear life is too short for doing all that. I fear that one cannot balance really successfully between private business and family – the side that usually takes its toll tends to be the business... And yet, making choices or just accepting reality, we should be happy with the good things we have.
“You get everything that goes with it”, Genie told Jafar.

This article was originally written for MyVenturePad.com (published January 4, 2008)