couple fighting

Are You Partnered for Success?

The importance of connecting with the right people in business and life

Last week I posted an article on my Facebook page (which you should go give a like!) about a woman who felt like a guest in her own home because she didn’t bring home a paycheck and instead stayed at home to raise her child. The article is titled “ Why I Will Never Live On Another Man's Dime ,” and starts with this sobering statement: “For the 8 years that my ex-husband and I were together, I was financially dependent on him.”

Who has the power?

In the article, author Laura Lifshitz shares the struggles she faced from a husband who continually devalued her contributions to the household, saying things like, “I pay the bills. It’s my house.”

To her husband, Laura’s efforts mattered little:

It didn't matter that I was taking care of the house and our child. It didn't matter that I was making a full-force effort to find a good job (applying for jobs, seeking recruiters, utilizing my alumni connections and resources, etc.) and in the meantime working part-time until I found something.

It was his house. I guess I was just merely a guest.

She goes on to share that these struggles eventually ended in divorce. In the process, she landed what she calls a perfect job that allows for her to provide for herself and her child. In her words, “Now, I have the power. I am broke and struggling, but damnit, I have my two cents and I love it.”

Power is a mindset

Laura’s story is sadly too common. Unfortunately, it’s an issue rarely discussed in the mainstream media, let alone among women themselves. Let’s face it, when it comes to money, most women feel woefully behind men. As a new study from Fidelity Investments reveals, nearly 80% of women don’t discuss money with family and friends because they find it too personal and uncomfortable to do so.

An article in Today on Fidelity’s findings shows that at some point in their youth, women lose confidence around money and numbers, even though science shows there’s no difference between men and women’s mathematical capacity (duh!).

As the article states, “Girls in elementary school think they are just as good as boys. Something happens in high school….There is a cultural issue in terms of stereotypes that seem to survive."

Opt out of the power struggle

This goes to show that much of the financial struggles women face stem, not from ability, but from culture and conditioning. Certainly when your husband reminds you that he’s in the position of power, much like Laura’s did by saying, “I pay the bills. It’s my house,” that conditioning continues. It’s often very hard for a woman to break out of this vision of herself set by other men, but it’s essential.

Contrast Laura’s story with the story of Heidi Rasmussen, who, after being laid off from a lucrative VP position, was asked to help her husband start and build a business.

As Money reports:

Her husband, Reid, had already left his job as manager at an insurance agency to launch a business. His idea: Get insurers to offer workers discounts on expenses like prescriptions and urgent care. Struggling to get his concept off the ground, he appealed to his wife to apply her marketing brain. “I decided to transform the idea into an engaging brand,” she says. “It was a total step of faith.”

Together, Heidi and Reid have built a multimillion-dollar business. Better yet, they’re having fun together! “Rasmussen expects freshbenies to bring in $3.5 million in 2014, up from $1.3 million in 2013. While the couple left higher-paying jobs, ‘that looks like a small tradeoff for the opportunity to work together on something that we love.’”

Great partners are empowering

All this goes to show the importance of picking your partners, both in business and in life. As women, we have a choice about who we spend our time and talent on, and a choice about what we’ll believe about ourselves…no matter what anyone, including our spouses, may say.

I’m fortunate. Like Heidi, I’ve had a husband in Robert who not only helps me be a better version of myself and encourages me to flourish financially, but with whom I also enjoy building business and investments. And it’s made all the difference in the world.

Today, I encourage you to take a look at your partnerships…and your potential. Are there better horizons for you? Can you be more than you are currently imagining? Can you move from just looking for a job to starting a company that makes millions?

I know you can, and I think you do too. Start today!

Original publish date: February 19, 2015

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