Is Your Mate Ready For Your Success?

Your business investments are beginning to pay off—big time. The years of balancing your day job and night classes toward your M.B.A., proving yourself to upper management, or building an impressive client list for your entrepreneurial services has led to an abundance of rewards. However, more money and perks usually equal more responsibility—and problems. Therefore, you are going to need your home team support now more than ever.

The reaction of your other half, however, is that of a sourpuss. In fact, at times, you could declare that her beautiful brown eyes seem to take on a strange, greenish hue. Maybe her routine questions, “How was your day at the office?” and “Had to work late again, huh?” are echoing with a more brassy, sardonic tone. What happens when your crossover into the promised land of accomplishment is seen as less than positive by your significant other?

“You will be much more visible now, and people at work will expect more from you in a public way,” says E. Carol Webster, Ph.D. Your spouse may harbor fear that he or she will be left behind and that you might be tempted to leave for someone with more status or ambition. This could be a key factor in your partner’s lack of support, says Webster, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based clinical psychologist. “Communication is key for both parties to build understanding and adjust together,” she says. Your focus should be on “opening up a dialogue” to address the new changes.

Azriela Jaffe and John Gray, authors of Honey, I Want to Start My Own Business: A Planning Guide for Couples (HarperCollins; $13), cite making decisions “without careful thought and discussion of how their business dreams will involve and affect their family” as a common mistake made by married entrepreneurs. To help counter this, you will also have to spell out what your success will not mean. This will require plenty of reassurance regarding your priorities and a commitment to carving out consistent quality time with your partner. “When you live with people who are important to you,” state the authors, career and “business decisions are no longer entirely yours to make.”

“Whether you’re a corporate conqueror or a self-made star, encouragement from your home team can mean the difference between rising to the top and staying there,” states E. Carol Webster, Ph.D. ( Here are some other pearls of wisdom from Webster:

Spell out what you need. Are you looking for verbal praise? Do you want your partner to have a hands-on role, for instance, be your “press agent” or on your arm at functions? Make sure your spouse understands and is open to his or her new role.

Together, build a success entourage. Your success may mean additional demands on both partners’ time and energy. Incorporate outside resources such as childcare as well as individual activities like going out with friends to help take the pressure off of you and your spouse.

Get power couples’ counseling. You and your spouse may not be in sync