By Ryan B Anderson, CEO + Co-founder of Levitate “I married an economist. I married a banker. I didn’t marry an entrepreneur.” I’ve heard those words countless times. To my wife’s credit, she’s right. I was already married when I decided to make the leap to The Risk Life. My life was pretty cushy, or our life, I should say. Since leaping, life has been a nerve-wracking roller coaster ride of uncertainty. And although I can only do so much about guaranteeing the future, in nearly 2 1/2 yrs I have learned what I can do to help my wife be more comfortable with the uncertainty of The Risk Life. Here are my key tips: ONE DAY A WEEK FOR JUST YOU TWO This is a must. You absolutely must have one day a week that is just for you two. Not only do you need it for the health of your relationship, but you also need it for your own mental health as an entrepreneur. And don’t half-ass it. Go completely offline. No phone, no emails, nada. Let your co-founders know that this is a day for you and your partner only and stick to it. If you have a crazy ass travel schedule, then commit to one 3 day weekend a month. No excuses. DO NOT TALK ABOUT BUSINESS DURING TOGETHER TIME Your time with your partner is scarce and precious, so don’t waste it talking about your business. Your partner already thinks you are married to your business, don’t confirm her deepest fears. Whether it is “our day”, a shared meal, a weekend date, or your shared bedtime, focus on your partner, and TURN OFF YOUR PHONE! One other pointer from Brad Feld, co-founder of Tech Stars and the Foundry Group, is to never set deadlines or high priority activities when you and your partner are supposed to have together time. Those deadlines will get in the way
of your time together, they always do. SET CLEAR EXPECTATIONS Communication, communication, communication. If you don’t have communication, you have miscommunication, and then you will step into the Octagon and verbally pummel the shit out of each other. Trust me. Setting clear expectations is all about communicating reality. No one likes to be blindsided so communicate, clearly and often. HAVE AS MUCH SEX AS POSSIBLE This one needs no explanation. VALIDATE YOUR PARTNER I once interviewed the CEO of Investment Banking for Credit Suisse, Eric Varvel, for a paper in college. Investment bankers are notorious workaholics. And despite being a workaholic who has dragged his family from Utah to NYC to Tokyo to Singapore to Jakarta to London and back to NYC, Mr. Varvel has managed to stay happily married with 5 kids for over 25 yrs. So I asked him how do you hold the relationship together? His response was simple “I constantly let her know that I couldn’t do it without her”. Validate your partner. DO THOUGHTFUL SHIT This is the last one. At the end of the day, if you committed to someone they simply want to feel that commitment. Show your love and commitment by doing small things, thoughtful things. And these don’t have to be purchases, although flowers have been a form of currency with women since the beginning of time (a nice bottle of whiskey works wonders for men). I surprise my wife with Pinkberry. Unexpected text messages or emails work wonders. My wife and I actually use the Couple app, which allows you to send messages, pictures, videos, voice memos, do joint doodles and even do “thumbkisses,” all in a private one-on-one network. My favorite thing to do is send her romantic images (Not the Anthony Wiener kind, although I’m all for doing that with your partner in a private forum. With your mistress on Twitter, not so much), animals kissing, children holding hands, old photos of us together. Photo edited pics of flowers are really great as well. Another great app is Printic, which allows you to print and mail polaroid style pics straight from your iPhone for $.99 a print. It’s a French startup, so of course they’ve got the romance and style down. I recently sent my wife some prints as a surprise and she melted when she got them. Whatever it is, just be creative and stay thoughtful. I highly recommend reading Brad Feld’s Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur, and read it with your partner. I’ve been reading it with mine, and we both understand each other a hell of a lot better. And if you are doing all of this and your partner still isn’t happy, well then, I think you know what you should do. This post originally appeared on The Risk Life, a place for risk-takers to share advice about life, the universe, and everything else in between.