Making the Marriage Work When You're Both Hitched to the Business

Last Updated Apr 1, 2011 2:46 PM EDT

Lately, there's been a lot of talk on BNET about running a business with relatives. One guy had to take over the family business from his dad, another one said hiring his wife was the best business decision he's ever made, and this woman had to fire her husband to save her marriage. Yikes.

Then I received this email:

Dear Chief Executive Golfer,
My wife is going to join me on the road while I play during my first year on a mini-tour. Do you have any tips on how to make this work well for both of us? -- Anonymous
Good question. How do you keep a marriage balanced when one person has to follow the other's dream? That's something my wife Jen and I have to deal with every day.

Jen has traveled with me from day one and I would not trade that for a second. After four years of marriage, all four of which were spent on the road going from tournament to tournament, it's clear that she's really the reason why I show up where and when I'm supposed to. She's the CEO and I'm basically the employee -- which she reminds me of daily. And any chance I get, I make sure to give her credit for keeping me in line.

The most important thing to making this work well is realizing the size of the sacrifice you're asking her to make. Ninety-five percent of your lives will revolve around what you're doing. If you're not mindful of that fact from the beginning, you're setting yourself up for problems. You both have to work at making sure that it's not all about you all the time.

As I've written about before, I set aside one day a week so that she can do whatever she wants. That means, I don't try to negotiate or put in my two cents about what we do. It's her day. Also, on a daily basis we try to communicate very clearly as to when we need to talk about golf or logistics, and when we need to set aside that topic for the day. Neither one of us wants conversation to always be about my work.

The other thing that's crucial is getting her involved and making sure that she is part of the decision making process. This was something I struggled with initially. I'd make all of these plans in my head about how we were going to get somewhere and when and what we needed to do when we arrived... and then I'd forget to tell her what I was thinking. Not a good idea. These are conversations that you must have together.

That's what we've learned so far about making this work for us. But I don't think it would be fair for just me to answer this question. Here's what Jen has to say about her life on Tour:

There are days when I don't like golf, traveling, and even sometimes the life that we have chosen. But I can count those days on one hand.

If you're going to do this, you have to be prepared for what it means: That means giving up a job of your own and realizing that your spouse's dream has to become your own. You'll have to be flexible and patient on the good days, and forgiving on the bad days. More importantly, it means finding whatever it is along the road that's going to make you happy. Scott's dream was to get on the PGA Tour; my dream was to volunteer my time and contribute to worthy causes -- which is something I can do in the life we've created for ourselves.

Anyone else work with a spouse? What are your tips for making it work?

Have a question about life on the PGA Tour? Ask me in the comments or use the contact form (under my picture in the top left corner) and I might blog about it.