It’s almost ‘That Day’ again, and it’s the perfect time to shake things up if you’re an entrepreneur… or married to one.
By Trisha Harp (Founder, The Harp Family Institute)

Our New Year’s resolutions have already started to wane . . . after all, it’s hard to break bad habits – regardless of how well-meaning we are. I tend to believe it’s easier to add things into our lives instead of taking things away. So this year, let’s try to establish some Valentine’s resolutions that ignite and rev up our most intimate relationships. Instead of going out to dinner and staring into your food, set a date night to try one or more of these proven methods to improve your marriage in 2014. The list of ideas below is based on research from the Harp Family Institute, a research and coaching firm that specializes in working with couples where at least one individual is an entrepreneur.

Share More Information About Your Business

The research shows that spouses want to know more information about your business. When they don’t hear from you on a regular basis about the ups AND downs of the business, they start to feel anxious about why you are continuing to pursue your business venture. Take some time to open the floor up for questions and answer them honestly. Ask your partner how often they want to hear about what’s been going on in your office and your mind!

Create a Shared Vision for Your Future

The research is clear, entrepreneurs who set shared long term business and family goals with their spouse were upwards of 32% happier and more satisfied in their lives than those who didn’t. Take some time this Valentine’s Day and come up with a shared vision for your future. What do you want to achieve in the next 1, 5, 10 years. . . what would your spouse like to accomplish? Not sure where to start? Set a date and head to a bookstore. Pull some magazines off the shelf and flip through them. As you see something inspiring, point it out to your partner and talk about it. To take this one step further – grab a manila folder and cut out the pictures to glue onto the folder. That way you can re-view them any time you need a little inspiration! Remember – if you cut up the magazine . . . it’s yours to buy!

Display Genuine Appreciation for Your Partner

The data also indicates that entrepreneurs appreciate their partners to a greater degree than their spouses realize. Sometimes it takes an “in your face” approach to get through how much you really do appreciate your partner. The more your partner feels appreciated by you, the more they will do things to make your life easier.  You may want to try out one of these methods. While sitting at your desk one day, grab a stack of Post-It notes and write at least 12 nice things about your spouse. Make sure some of them include how you appreciate the little things they do to allow you to run your business. Be specific. Put them on the bathroom mirror before you leave for work. You may also want to buy a few cards that do a better job conveying your feelings if writing notes is challenging for you. Either way, keep your eyes open for ways your spouse improves both your business and personal life. The more you notice, the more you will appreciate their efforts as well.

Establish Communication Protocols

When we get together as a couple, we teach our partners how they can talk to us. Sometimes we do a poor job and end up at the receiving end of some un-filtered anger. It’s never too late to establish some positive communication protocols, which work for both of you. At the end of the day, you’re on the same team, so beating each other up only defeats the purpose. One way to diffuse an otherwise hostile situation is to come up with a de-triggering effect. This is a word or phrase that immediately brings you both back to a positive place. When you start to feel yourself or your partner escalate – use the word /phrase you came up with (together when you were both relaxed) and see if it works to de-escalate the potential argument. Using this word/phrase doesn’t mean you shouldn’t discuss what triggered you or your partner in the first place, it just means that you will hopefully remember to discuss calmly and without hurting your partner in the process.

Do you have any other tips for this Valentine’s Day?

member_81613762About the guest blogger: Trisha Harp is the founder of The Harp Family Institute, a research and coaching firm that works with couples where, one, or both of the partners, is an entrepreneur. The goal of the institute is to collect and analyze data that will directly benefit entrepreneurs and their families.