Women In Family Business – Five Reasons Your Husband Won’t Slow Down to Reduce Stress

By Patricia Annino, J.D., Thomas Davidow, Ed.D. & Cynthia Adams Harrison, Ed.D., LICSW

I’m worried: My husband does too much and is under too much stress.

Most likely you’re worrying that your husband’s stress level could affect his health. If he got sick, or worse, died, you would lose him and your relationship. Although the thought may not be uppermost in your mind, you’re probably also worried that you wouldn’t know what to do about your own situation or the business, especially if you don’t know what’s going on in it. If you’ve been urging your husband to slow down and he doesn’t listen to you, here are five reasons why your pleas may be falling on deaf ears:

  1. He has always been this way. As an entrepreneur and owner of a family business, your husband has doubtless been a highly energetic, hard worker for decades, most likely since you met him. His work ethic created habits which he has held onto for decades. Old habits die hard.
  2. The business is his identity. Your husband’s definition of himself depends upon where his identity is banked. If it has been banked within the walls of the family business until now, he will have a hard time redefining himself.
  3. He needs to know he can still “cut it.” Your husband’s ego, emotions, and independence come from the idea that he can still perform effectively. Where else besides the family business is he going to get that confirmation? On the golf course? Traveling? Unlikely. As long as he remains immersed in the family business, with all its stresses and worries; as long as he is still making important decisions, he will continue to experience himself as vital. He does not want to give that up. That is why we read about highly successful CEO’s of family owned businesses who, nearing eighty insist on deciding how a fourth floor bathroom should be decorated.
  4. He doesn’t want to admit that he’s getting older. To one extent or another, we all choose to deny the reality of aging. We look at recent photos of ourselves that we don’t like, and our first thought is that the picture didn’t come out well-there must have been something wrong with the camera or the focus or the angle-instead of acknowledging that we have simply gotten older.
  5. He’s overcompensating. Although your husband may notice that it’s a little harder to get out of bed in the morning, or that a muscle hurts in a way it hasn’t before, he is still driven to feel as good as he did in his 20’s and 30’s. He doesn’t want to know that it’s harder to lift something or go all day without a break or deal with five problems at once. In order to stave off the sense of helplessness that accompanies aging and to prove that he’s not losing strength, he may go into overdrive and do more rather than less. And he’s not necessarily conscious of it.

Patricia Annino is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning.  She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about.  Annino recently announced the release of an updated version of her successful book, Women and Money: A Practical Guide to Estate Planning to include recent changes in the laws that govern how we protect our assets during and beyond our lifetime.  Annino’s book is an exhortation, resource and trusted companion for women in all facets of life.  To purchase the book visit:  http://amzn.to/hOHuEV or for more about Annino, visit: www.patriciaannino.com


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