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Feb 14, 2021

Happy Valentine's Day! This is Entrepreneurs of Faith, a Sunday episode of Monetization Nation. I’m Nathan Gwilliam, your host. 

Creating and running businesses isn’t easy. However, being the spouse of an entrepreneur or CEO isn’t easy either. One of the primary reasons we are creating our businesses is so we can have the time and resources for the people and things that matter most. This especially includes our spouse, the person who should matter most to us. We need to be sure we don’t let the stress and business at work be an excuse for not sharing our love and being there with our loved one this Valentine’s Day and the rest of the year. There is nothing we’re working on at work that is more important than the people we love. But, unfortunately, approximately 50% of marriages end in divorce.

So, in today’s episode, we’re going to discuss some of the most successful strategies entrepreneurs and CEOs use to destroy their marriages and some alternative strategies for those of us who are trying to nurture more loving and connected marriages.

Strategy 1 - Don’t invest time to re-connect daily. 

“Every successful marriage is the result of two people working diligently and skillfully to cultivate their love.” - Henry Beecher, Minister

Sometimes entrepreneurs and CEOs don’t prioritize daily connection with their spouse. Instead of making this mistake, maybe we can schedule opportunities for daily connection. Some ideas might be a regular date night, regular walks together, or lunch dates together. If we’re traveling or away from home we can schedule reminders to send regular texts or to make regular video calls. Marriage is a daily decision that we must invest in every day.

Sometimes couples quit dating each other. Don’t ever quit dating. Dating and regular connection are probably how you and your spouse fell in love initially, and something we need to keep doing to continue nurturing a loving marriage. 

One of the business tectonic shifts we talk about a lot at Monetization Nation is “Connecting through Passion.” This doesn’t just work in business, but it can also be very effective in our relationships. We should try to identify our spouse’s level-10 passions and strive to connect with our spouse through what he or she is crazy-passionate about. 

As an example, a study found that couples who watch romantic movies and discussed the relationships in them afterward had a 50% lower divorce rate. Sorry guys. Just watch the romantic movies with her.

Strategy 2 - “Outsource” sacred parts of the marriage. 

As entrepreneurs, we often learn the importance of outsourcing in order to get everything done. However, some of us make the mistake of outsourcing parts of our marriage. Sometimes couples outsource sacred elements of the marriage, such as emotional connection, companionship, and sometimes even sex, to people other than their spouse. Sometimes people outsource to porn and romance novels. When this happens, the spouse is escaping and finding fulfillment with other people and things. 

A study at the University of Oklahoma found that the chances of divorce double when pornography is viewed (Source: Marripedia). Dr. John Gottman, a world-renowned therapist who has 40 years of experience studying relationships, explains in an open and honest letter that pornography should never be viewed because of the unrealistic expectations it creates. Men and women who find fulfillment through explicit images and videos almost always find they have trouble finding fulfillment with an actual partner. Dr. Gottman states that “even non-compulsive use of [pornographic] images can damage a committed relationship.” 

In a similar manner, romance novels can have a similar effect. These books are full of unrealistic people, relationships, and sexual experiences. When a spouse gets too caught up in romance novels, they begin to believe that their partner should be more like the character in their novel. They can also begin to turn to these novels for feelings of romance, love, and desire instead of to their spouse, which decreases their connection. 

We should be committed to nurturing those sacred parts of our marriages only with our spouse. This commitment will help ensure that we keep our marriages strong and our intimate, sacred moments special and wonderful. 

Strategy 3 -  Focus on digital devices and entertainment instead of your spouse. 

When was the last time we checked our phone while our spouses were trying to talk to us? A recent study found that mobile phones can have a negative impact on closeness, connection, and quality of conversation in human relationships (Source: University of Essex).

Do we neglect our spouse because we spend too much time glued to digital entertainment, such as TV, social media, or video games? I recently spoke with a church leader who told me video game addiction is one of the top reasons couples in his congregation are getting divorced. 

Instead, maybe we commit to ourselves to put our phones away when we’re having meals with or talking to our spouse. If the phone rings or we receive a text, and our spouse encourages us to take the call or check the text, maybe we can say, “I’m sure it’s not as important as you.” Instead of watching too much TV or playing too many video games, maybe we make a commitment to ourselves that we only consume digital entertainment after we have made a meaningful connection that day with our spouse. This habit might help us to put first things first, as Steven Covey taught.

Strategy 4 - Don’t be responsible with money. 

Fights about money are the second leading cause of divorce, right behind infidelity (Source: Ramsey Solutions). Many couples don’t have a budget or don’t stick to it if they do. My wife is so much better at this than I am. Some couples buy the biggest house the bank will let them buy and drive the nicest cars they can. One study from researchers at Brigham Young University found that married individuals with higher levels of materialism had less satisfying marriages. Some couples keep their finances separate and don’t communicate with their spouses about financial issues. Money issues are cited as a cause of 36% of divorces. 

If you haven’t before, I would highly recommend taking a financial course with your spouse. My wife and I took the Dave Ramsey course and it helped a lot. A good financial course forces spouses to talk through and come to a consensus on important financial decisions. For example, do you and your spouse both know what your next big purchase will be and how fast you’re saving to earn it? What do you picture for your future retirement and how much money do you need to be putting away now to achieve that? Are you both comfortable with how much money is being spent every month versus how much is being put away for future plans? Having these discussions and learning about financials together can help avoid money problems and create open and honest communication about our financials. 

Strategy 5 - Don’t make intimacy a priority. 

When couples stop having sex, their relationships become vulnerable to anger, detachment, infidelity and, ultimately, divorce.” - Dr. Ian Kerner, Counselor

Sometimes spouses don’t make regular sex and intimacy a priority. Sometimes touch is eliminated outside of sex. Regular sex and other intimacy can be a powerful glue that binds together spouses with a stronger connection. For many people, touch is their primary love language. For most couples, touch and sex can be a powerful way to reconnect and communicate love. 

Relationship expert Dr. Lurve believes that one of the most essential ingredients to any long-lasting marriage is daily hugs. She prescribes a 10-second hug every day to her clients who are struggling to reconnect with their spouses. This daily hug releases oxytocin, promotes sexual desire, helps us resolve issues more quickly, and can alleviate stress (Source: Body and Soul). 

Strategy 6 - Have Intimate, opposite-sex friendships

“Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife.” - Franz Schubert, Composer

Sometimes we don’t recognize that emotional relationships with someone of the opposite sex can be deadly to our marriages. These relationships often start innocently, as just lunch, advice, or lending a listening ear. These relationships can sometimes lead to emotional intimacy. Our spouses should be the first person to which we turn to share our joys and our sorrows. 

When we have our own safeguards in place and don’t make justifications to break them, we’re much less likely to find ourselves in inappropriate relationships. Keep in mind that most affairs don’t begin because someone wanted to cheat. Actually, 80% of affairs began as “just friends” (Source: Shirley Glass). "The new infidelity is between people who unwittingly form deep, passionate connections before realizing that they've crossed the line from platonic friendship into romantic love," explains Shirley Glass, Author of Not “Just Friends.”

Strategy 7 - Don’t help out. 

Marriage is not just spiritual communion, it is also remembering to take out the trash. – Joyce Brothers, Psychologist and Author

Our spouses are probably carrying heavy loads, and so are most entrepreneurs. It’s very common for us to focus on our own heavy loads we are carrying and to be resentful or put out when our spouse asks us to help. Doesn’t our spouse realize how busy we are? 

Instead, maybe we identify a job that our spouse most dislikes doing. Maybe it’s cleaning toilets, doing dishes, or cleaning up dog poop. If we don’t know which tasks our spouse dislikes the most, ask. Then, maybe we proactively start doing that task every day without being asked or saying anything about it. 

Early in my marriage, a counselor taught me that when my wife asks me to do something, I should look at it as a gift because she is telling me what she needs. This way I know what I can best do to help her. 

Strategy 8 - Point out all your spouse’s weaknesses. 

“Instead of nagging about your spouse, try bragging about your spouse.” - Dave Willis, Pastor and Author

When you were dating, how often did you point out the faults in the person you were dating? How often do you do it now? Maybe, instead of focusing on his or her faults, we should strive to find everything we love about our spouse and everything we’re grateful for, and strive to build him or her up with love and gratitude every day.

It’s especially important that we don’t speak badly about our spouses to others. Media is filled with spouses making jokes about each other such as: “I have four kids. Three, if you don’t count my husband.” TV shows and movies can make these lines seem innocent enough but in reality, speaking about our spouses in any kind of derogatory manner will only hurt our marriages. 

Just as we’re aware of our own weaknesses, our spouses are aware of theirs. We’re not here to point them out, or even worse shout them out to our friends and family. We’re there to love and support them as they strive to change for the better, just as we’ll be doing. Leslie Vernick, a well-known author and speaker shared that “regularly thinking negatively about your [spouse] increases your dissatisfaction with [them] and your marriage.” The more we focus on the things we love about our spouses, the more in love we’ll be with them and our marriage. 

Strategy 9 - Make other people a priority over your spouse. 

Often parents prioritize their children above their spouse. A relationship expert named David Pisarra said, “... the most frequent issue I hear from men I represent is that the focus of the wife turned to the child, and never returned to the relationship with the man.”  

Sometimes we allow parents, friends, or a boss to be a higher priority. Instead, maybe we need to listen when our spouse says he or she is having issues with our parents and set better boundaries. Maybe we need to plan scheduled alone time each day, a scheduled date night each week, and quarterly getaways with only our spouse. 

Maybe we commit that whenever our spouse calls or texts we do everything we can to immediately take the call or respond to the text so that our spouse can feel they are our priority.  We need to make sure that our spouse always comes first. 

Strategy 10 - Be harsh or abusive to your spouse.  

“Family is supposed to be our safe haven. Very often, it’s the place where we find the deepest heartache.” - Iyanla Vanzant

It doesn’t matter how bad of a day we’re having. There is never an excuse for being harsh with or yelling at our spouse, calling him or her names, or abusing our spouse in any way that can take a long time to heal. Abusing our spouse is never ok. Yelling at our spouse is never ok (unless maybe the house is on fire). Calling our spouse names is never ok. 

Our spouse should know without a doubt that we will be loyal and never speak badly about them in front of another person. Jonathan Bennett, a relationship expert said, “If you’re having a fight or [are] annoyed by your partner, the appropriate course of action is to address it directly. By airing your dirty laundry for everyone to see, you’re showing a lack of respect for your partner and the relationship.”

Strategy 11 - Threaten divorce. 

“In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find and continue to find grounds for marriage.” - Robert Anderson, Playwright

Some people threaten divorce to get leverage so that their spouse will make the desired change. However, this threat can often have the opposite effect and create long-lasting rifts and disconnection in the marriage. When we threaten divorce that could be the nuclear bomb that destroys everything else around it. 

In 1519, a Spanish conquistador named Hernán Cortés arrived in the new world with six hundred men. Soon after arrival, he burned all his ships, sending the message to his men that there would be no turning back. Within two years he had conquered the Aztec empire. I realize there are situations, such as serious abuse, where divorce may be the right decision. However, if we are not in one of those situations, we should probably burn our ships, commit to improving the marriage, and not threaten divorce as the backup. We should let our spouse know that this may be a really hard situation, but we love them so much that we’re committed to doing everything we can to work through this.

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