Dual Partners

Sandy Balick of Consensus Point Mediation LLC explains how marital mediation can help spousal business partners unwind one aspect of their relationship while maintaining the other.Spousal-run businesses seem to proliferate. The fertile soil of husband/wife entrepreneurship reflects, among other things, the increasingly popular work-from-home ethos. The relative ease of conducting a business or professional relationship via the internet; Qualified Joint Venture tax treatment by the IRS; and the increased prominence and success of women as entrepreneurs are just several likely contributors to this trend.

It is no surprise that some of these husband/wife ventures have attained considerable success, a fact highlighted in a 2013 article appearing in Knowledge@Wharton, the UPenn business school’s online business analysis journal. It highlights some prominent husband/wife entrepreneurs and the unique challenges facing what I call dual partners – couples that are partners in romance and in business.

It’s entirely predictable that some successful spousal business ventures will be met with this dilemma: the marital adhesive’s worn yet the strong desire and/or shared financial necessity to continue the business or professional relationship perseveres.

The resulting dilemma is an intimidating one – is it even possible to unwind a marriage while preserving a spousal business relationship? Though it may seem counterintuitive, I think the very same skills that have contributed to the successful business side of the marriage will be the same ones that help provide the solution to the dilemma.

Winifred Riley, a Berkeley, CA-based marriage and family therapist, interviewed for a remarkable article on how couples overcome major life obstacles for the Vowels section of the Sunday New York Times, December 15, 2013 (“Individual Problems, Joint Solutions”) identified sense of self, resiliency, the ability to develop coping strategies and willingness to sacrifice as essential survival elements. The article – a must-read – reveals how several couples (not business partners) overcame apparently insuperable life challenges, including multiple military deployments to dangerous places, shared addiction issues, and stints – I’m not kidding – on death row.

Couples armed with these critical qualities will likely find that a mediated approach is especially helpful in pulling off the tricky and delicate task of unwinding one aspect of a relationship while preserving and even building on the other. Marital mediation’s insistence on confidentiality, and problem solving through discussion, plus its openness to the inclusion of expert legal, financial and other input, are all critical elements to the success of this approach.

Sanford (Sandy) Balick, Attorney & Mediator, NY Sandy Balick signature
Sanford E. Balick, Esq.
Founder & Principal Mediator
Consensus Point Mediation, LLC.

Phone: (646) 340-3434
Email: ConsensusPointLLC@gmail.com
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2 Responses to Dual Partners

  • Mark Bullock says:

    Wow, great article Sandy!

    I have personal experience of the opposite happening – the dissolution of a jointly owned/run business with my wife (decades ago), while maintaining and building our marriage of now almost 30 years.

    It’s darned tough either way, and the qualities you indicated indeed are necessary, and I would add “Commitment” to whatever you choice you make, is essential as well.

    Thanks for the insightful article – Mark

  • Yes – excellent article Sandy. The quote from Winifred Riley is spot on. It brings everything down to the core essentials. Unwinding a marriage is tough enough. When you bring the co-partnership of a business into the mix – you’ve got an especially challenging situation. But certainly one we mediators are well equipped to handle. And how great for our clients when they consider the alternative. Thank you for highlighting an important area where mediation can make a difference. Ada

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