“It’s not personal, it’s business.”
People say this all the time in business relationships. Hurt somebody’s feelings? Overlooked somebody’s good intention? Insulted somebody because of their shortcomings? It’s not personal, it’s business. There’s a greater goal at hand—bigger things at stake—more urgent to-do’s than making sure you feel good about yourself. And quit being so needy, anyway.
[I never fully subscribed to this attitude in the business world: but really, this blog post isn’t about business.]
It’s about marriage.
And it’s about the fact that I’ve noticed and read and thought a lot lately about the success rate of marriages, the behavior that makes marriages successful—and the behavior that, well, doesn’t.
I don’t know it all, I’m young (relatively) and have been married a short time (relatively) and truly have an absolutely amazing husband (no lie). But I do have 3 kids under 4 years of age, a husband with his own company and a slew of my own pet projects and I have—at times—seen how it’s easy to fall into the trap.
The Business Partner trap.
It’s a trap that happens when two young lovers suddenly have shared children and bills and chores and extracurricular activities — and now have a lot more to do than serenade each other with sweet nothings. When both people are exhausted at the end of the day and are too busy making sure the business happens that the personal falls to the wayside. And then… Hurt somebody’s feelings? Overlooked somebody’s good intention? Insulted somebody because of their shortcomings? It’s not personal, it’s business. There’s a greater goal at hand—bigger things at stake—more urgent to-do’s than making sure you feel good about yourself. And quit being so needy, anyway.
But the thing is: businesses may be able to thrive under those conditions, but families do not.
That’s because what makes a family successful is not money and checklists and job descriptions and who has it harder—it’s love. And love is the outcome of very different skill sets. Love is not business, it’s only personal.
“This is the meaning of truest love, to give until it hurts.“—Mother Teresa
I read this blog post today by a guy who had been married twice and divorced twice. He sat in the room with a bunch of friends and family for his little sister’s engagement party — and everyone went around the room sharing “marriage advice.” He realized, when it came around to his turn, that he didn’t really have any advice for making a successful marriage. All he knew was what not to do — things that had failed him. Things he would do different if he could go back and do them again.
And as I read “16 Ways I Blew My Marriage,” I thought of these same sentiments. These very common things (that I think all married couples can relate to) are not what lovers do. Some are even what enemies do. But many are what abrasive business colleagues do. They’re about their own agendas. They criticize (maybe even “constructively.”) They pressure and label and keep each other at an emotional distance. And at the end of the day? If it’s not working out?
“You’re fired.”– Donald Trump
And it’s easy to see why this happens — family life can feel like a job. Being a mother is harder than any office job I’ve ever had — and being a father, a husband and running a company is a big load to hold. But unlike business partners, we’re not made to fulfill our job requirements and check out—we’re made to constantly check in. To move closer together when days are tough. To give until it hurts. To give the benefit of the doubt. To not keep checklists or scorecards or “Hmm, is that in my job description or yours?”
Marriage is not business, it’s personal — where the person you married is your most important job. Even when it seems there is so much to do—nothing is more important than the person in front of you.
“I think the world today is upside down. Everybody seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater development and greater riches and so on. There is much suffering because there is so very little love in homes and in family life. We have no time for our children, we have no time for each other; there is no time to enjoy each other. In the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world.”—Mother Teresa