Mark Suster, a partner at GRP who writes the well-known and excellent blog Both Sides of the Table put up a detailed and excellent review of Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur yesterday.
His wife, Tania Suster, weighed in with an excellent comment about her hints for surviving being the spouse of an incredibly busy startup person. Tania’s tips follow.
– Get electronic access to his calendar
- Don’t call when you see he is in a board meeting or meeting an important investor
– Use the calendar for scheduling so you don’t have to bug him about when he is free
– Respect and develop a positive working relationship with his assistant/team
– Don’t email him unless you have to, he is barraged with literally hundreds of emails a day. I text his iPhone if it is important and then I know he sees it
– Get a babysitter once a week for date night whether or not you have plans, you need couple time. If money is tight, you can trade babysitting with friends. Its worth the hassle. Even when you are tired and don’t feel like going out, once you are out you breathe deeply and realize its a good idea.
- Respect his need for down time: If he loves mountain biking or poker night or in Mark’s case obscure foreign films about blind Iranian shepherds, then make sure your over-stressed partner gets to do something that truly relaxes him once a week
– Do the same for yourself, no one likes a Martyr. Plan some fun with your girlfriends regularly, no one is going to do it for you.
– Pick your battle times: Say “we don’t need to discuss this now, but we need to schedule time to discuss X as its really important”
– Remember, when he takes that call during dinner or the weekend, he is working for the success of the family, he is doing it for us, it isn’t fun for him. That only makes it 15% less annoying, but it helps
– Take vacations! It is mandatory. I used to love our unplugged week each year in Sequoia Nat’l park with no WiFi and no cell coverage. Sadly after 5 years they started getting just enough coverage for him to check in, bummer!
– I love the idea of a Digital Sabbath – some time each week where the whole family unplugs. Haven’t gotten this family to sign up, but would like to try.
– Take some weekends without the kids each year, it is really important to reconnect. It is worth the hassle of organizing and the expense. The kids are going to grow up and abandon us. We need to nourish our couplehood. It won’t happen on its own.