How Much do You Tell Your Spouse?

Running a small business sometimes creates conflict at home.  Spouses have opinions about how the business should be run and what decisions should be made.

Most Christian Business Owners enjoy running their business and enjoy sharing their lives with their spouse. Yet an alarming number of these same business owners struggle with how much to tell their (presumably) non-entrepreneurial spouse about the inner workings of their business. In a recent survey conducted by Faith Radio and this site, the Bible and Business, we learned that just over 25% of Christian Business owners either Agreed or Strongly Agreed with the statement “A very significant challenge to my business or to myself personal is managing my spouse or significant other: how much do I tell them?” (survey results will be released here in the future).

While the survey didn’t give us specifics on what the challenge is for these Christian Business owners, we can still offer some advice on how to answer the “how much do I tell them?” question.

Be Specific Enough that You Don’t Create False Impressions

Be sure that you give enough detail about the health of your business to your spouse that they are not caught off-guard should negative information need to be addressed. If you know that your spouse would be surprised at the current state of your business, then you’re probably creating a false impression. This really is lying. Let’s not lie.

Ask Your Spouse How Much and What Kind of Information They Need

Sometimes, the best way to give your spouse the right amount of information is to simply ask. It’s amazing what asking can accomplish. As business owners, we constantly ask our customers for feedback – so why not do this with your spouse?

Don’t Give Them so Much Information that Your Home Becomes the Board Room Every Night

I’ve seen some spouses who knew so much about the business that there was little emotional or “thinking time” separate between home and the office. Don’t let your evening conversations become so focused on solving business problems that you find yourself joking about “needing a life”. Your business should never consume your entire life – at least not for sustained periods of time.

My Spouse Doesn’t Want to Know

What if your spouse doesn’t want to hear about the details? What if your spouse is sticking his/her head in the proverbial sand? Well, here’s a couple points of advice:

  1. Tell them that they need to know – in this case, ignorance is not bliss – it is dangerous.
  2. How can your spouse pray and support you when they don’t have enough detail to understand what’s going on? They need to pray and support – and that requires adequate information about the health of your business
  3. More than likely, this is probably symptomatic of a larger problem of avoidance in his/her life. Talk with them gently but directly about this. The truth is never the problem. Facing reality is the best way to deal with it. Help them see they need to be involved.

As you go through life together, your spouse will have different emotions about your business and about your abilities to run your business. That’s part of the warp and woof of life. But keep them engaged enough so they can pray and support while not turning the evening dinner table into a board meeting each night.

Bill English