Just a few weeks ago my husband and I were preparing for tax season, when he asked me an (apparently) loaded question: "How much money have you spent this year on your business?"
Assuming he was asking me this question because he was worried I was spending too much, I immediately became defensive. During the subsequent argument, he shared that he would like to know more about what I'm spending on my business because it relates to our future goals as a couple. I, on the other hand, have always looked at my business as "my thing," and thus believed I really don't have to share anything with him unless I want to.
We ended up settling on a compromise that works for both of us, but our conversation got me thinking. Money is the root of so many problems in "normal" marriages, but when you're a married entrepreneur things become exponentially more complicated. To help you have a happy and successful marriage as a female entrepreneur, I've compiled the top three money questions husbands ask about their wives' businesses, and how you can answer them and find a compromise without fighting.
#1. When is this business going to make as much money as your old job?
This is not an uncommon thing to hear for female, married entrepreneurs- especially when starting out. It's usually an off-the-cuff comment, but it has the ability to conjure up all sorts of insecurities and fears about where your business is headed. Instead of getting defensive, acknowledge that your husband probably has no idea how insensitive this question is, so he needs you to explain it to him. Try saying something like:
"When you ask me that question, it makes me feel like you don't believe in me. What I'm hearing from you is that you want to be more involved in my business income, and that's completely fine with me. I'm happy to talk about it. But I need you to ask me about it in a different way."
Then, figure out how you would prefer him to ask you about your business income and communicate that request.
#2. How much money are you spending on your business?
Telling your husband you just scored a lucrative new client is exciting; talking to him about your daily expenses is not. From a female perspective, I get that sometimes you just don't want to tell your husband how much you're spending. Maybe you're afraid he'll be judgmental, or maybe it's because you're embarrassed. Or maybe, like me, you simply never thought about it because your business is "your thing."
The next time this question comes up, use it as an opportunity to talk to your husband about expectations surrounding your business expenses. Tell him how much information you feel comfortable giving him on a consistent basis, and ask him how much information he'd ideally like to have. Then settle on an agreement that works for you both. For example, maybe the two of you will decide together that this is your business, so you get to manage the expenses without his input. Or, maybe you'll decide you want to keep him in the loop so the two of you can achieve your bigger money goals together. The bottom line is, you want to find a compromise that makes you both feel comfortable.
#3. Why are you spending X amount on this?
This question usually happens when your husband is going over the monthly bank statements and notices an unusual expense. It can often lead to a fight because it doesn't come across like an innocent question; it comes across like a line of questioning. That can put you on the defensive and cause you to feel like you need to validate your decisions.
The next time your husband asks you this question, try the following response:
Him: What is Infusionsoft and why did you spend $250 on it last month?
You: Are you asking me a question or are you questioning the expense?
Him: It's just a question. I'm curious.
Then you can explain what the expense was for. If it turns out he is questioning the expense because he's worried that you're spending too much money, take that as an opportunity to really look at your business. Is a lot of money going out, but not a lot is coming in? Are you spending on things related to your critical musts, or are they just expenses you could do without? Take a mini-evaluation and make sure you can stand behind every dollar you're spending, not just for the health of your marriage, but for the health of your business as well.
I want to hear from you! What money question does your husband ask that puts you on the defensive and always starts a fight? Leave your answer in the comment box below!