What is it like to be the spouse of a family business owner?

The Family Business Voice

05-12-2022 • 24 mins

On this episode of The Family Business Voice, Sara Stern discusses her new work, Married to the Family Business: a Handbook for Spouses of Family Business Owners.

Sara Stern is a speaker, author and consultant who decided to write a handbook for spouses of family business owners because of the apparent vacuum of resources out there for them. Though they might not sit on the board or hold an operational role in the business, spouses are at the centre of it all. They are often influential in decisions and are subject to some unique stressors because of the ambiguity of their roles.

- Spouses often get caught in triangles as the go-between for people that wish to talk to their partners, which is almost always a bad idea as it conflates family relationships with business relationships. Maintain strong boundaries to keep these areas separate.

- It's best for partners to provide support without taking sides. Try "That sounds hard. What would be an ideal outcome?" rather than "That sounds hard. Your sister is really difficult."

- Spouses need to understand their 'why' and have firm boundaries around what they're willing to do. At the same time, they need to understand their partner's 'why' and decide what that means for their relationship. For example, is a call every night at dinner acceptable? If it isn't, those expectations need to be voiced and respected.

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