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Kathy Marshack News

Is It Time to Renew Your Marriage Contract?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Renew your wedding contractYour marriage contract is more than a marriage license. It’s a group of assumptions that you made about marriage and your partner and yourself. The assumptions you first made at age 22 may not fit at 42. No doubt the assumptions that guided you through those first years altered as you had children, then altered again as the children entered college or when you started a business or changed your profession and so on. Did you think to sit down and analyze what you wanted or what was best given each new set of circumstances? Did you discuss it together as a couple? Sadly most couples do not, which causes many couples to drift apart.

How can you renew your commitment to each other through a renegotiated marriage contract?

  • Schedule a weekend away so you can relax and discuss this.
  • Each should privately identify what he or she now wants from the marriage - write it down on a piece of paper.
  • Be flexible with yourself and your partner as circumstances change.
  • Let go of old ways that are no longer appropriate.
  • Keep your basic values in tact.
  • Identify goals that are in the best interests of your marriage and individually.
  • Discuss with your partner how to divide family responsibilities equitably.
  • Overcome the inevitable fears.

I often hear people say, "I'm not going to change; you knew who I was when you married me; you better be happy with that!" Things do change and people move on. All of us change daily and it's doubtful that you’re the same person you were twenty years ago. And neither is your spouse. Complaints about change are coming from a place of fear...fear of change and fear of the unknown. Change is inevitable. It will either overtake you or you can plan a little and guide the change process. It's your choice.

Evaluate your situation now. Is it time to talk with your spouse and make some changes before they erupt into irreconcilable differences? Have you lost your sense of identity over time? Have conflicts already eruped? Many couples have found that they can more easily and calmly open this conversation when an impartial family counselor is involved. If you live near Portland, Oregon, please contact my office and set up an appointment. I would be delighted to help you reconnect with your lifelong partner and make the next stage of your life more fulfilling.

If you're in business together make sure to download my free Checklist for Entrepreneurial Couples. Click on the image below...


Learn Six Valuable Lessons from Successful Family Businesses

Monday, September 28, 2015


learn six lessons from successful family businessesOne of the best ways to learn is by watching what other people do to succeed. While your individual situation may differ, you can watch other family businesses and glean valuable insights into how they make a success of it.

I found a nice resource in the six videos in a recent New York Times article that highlight the ups and downs of family businesses. I enjoyed the videos stories that small business writer, Stacy Cowley, collected. Through these real life stories she gleaned six important lessons that every entrepreneurial family can learn from...

A great support team is vital to the leader’s success. Watch a story about a bow tie business started by a nine-year-old boy, and how his mom and extended family members support him.

Don’t wait to the last minute to train the next generation, rather integrate a succession plan gradually so everyone feels comfortable in their new role. Watch a story about how a fifth-generation brewery owner helped his four daughters fit into the business.

You don’t need to know everything before you start your business. Watch the story of an immigrant who saw an opportunity, seized it, and has grown it into a family business.

Because of the family connection, family members often work harder to make your business succeed. Watch two brothers who fought as children grow into a close-knit business venture.

Families should consider what’s in the long-term best interest for the business. Watch the story of how loyal customers and employees brought a man back to his CEO position even when it was a cousin who ousted him.

Entrepreneurial families should enjoy the business and have fun. Watch the story of a woodworking craftsman as he shares his passion and business philosophy with his son.

Click here to access the videos.

Are you thinking of starting a family business and want to get it off on the right foot? Or do you see areas that could use improvement before real problems break out? Consulting a business coach has helped many to open up a dialog among the family members that creates a better work environment. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. If you live elsewhere, please take advantage of my Remote Education for Entrepreneurial Couples and Families. Learn more by clicking here.
 

Does Avoiding Confrontation Improve Relationships?

Friday, August 28, 2015


Avoiding confrontation or conflict in a relationship isn’t healthy because conflict is a sign of growth as you open up communication on a difficult subject.Are you like so many people who hate confrontation and conflict? Do you give in on even big issues just so you don’t have to fight for your point of view? If so, you’re not alone. But please consider is this the best way to handle communication in your relationships? Is it healthy to have this attitude?

Listening, talking, communicating, resolving problems, making joint decisions... these are requirements for all healthy relationships. Without good communication skills and quality time dedicated to communicating, relationships soon flounder and fail, especially among people experiencing stress in their lives.


There’s a common misconception that conflict and confrontation are bad. Couples may fight openly or quietly seethe, but they have a terrible time confronting the real conflict respectfully and honestly. It's as if confrontation and conflict are impolite.

However, conflict and confrontation are natural and healthy components of any relationship. You’re neither bad nor wrong for causing a conflict or identifying one. Conflict is an opportunity to open up communication on a difficult subject. Don’t fear conflict and confrontation. Conflicts are inevitable and actually a sign of growth.

Good communication means you don’t avoid conflict, rather you enhance your problem solving skills beyond simple linear cause and effect (i.e. blame). You develop effective tools to "lean into" conflicts and resolve them early on, so that you can reorganize your lives to include the new learning.


Compromising, acquiescing, or forcing your opinion on others are NOT effective tools!

Does that surprise you? After all, isn't compromise a requirement of any partnership? The reality is that decisions arrived at through compromise or force usually lack creativity and seldom last. Sure, an occasional compromise may be necessary for the sake of expediency. But if a decision is important, a compromise may cause deepening anger and resentment. Both people feel they’re giving up something in order to get an agreement, and the decision is a watered-down version of two stronger opinions.

If you don't make time to talk, if you don't nurture your personal relationship, your relationship will disintegrate into bitterness and divorce. So take the time now to evaluate your communication skills and invest the time to develop a meaningful, loving relationship with your spouse.

Sometimes it becomes necessary to get outside help to get your relationship back on track. If you’d like to consult a family therapist and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. If you live elsewhere, take a look at remote education for entrepreneurial couples that allows us to connect via video or telephone conference. It may be the first and best step that enables you to rebuilding a warm and close relationship.


Read more on my website: Conflict and Communication.

How to Break Through the Isolation You Feel in a Family Business

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


feeling isolated in a family businessThe man on the other end of the line was speaking softly, so I had to listen carefully. "I don't know if you can help me," he said. "My wife and I are having problems. She doesn't even know I'm calling you, and I'm not sure she will even agree to see you." I reassured him that I was willing to help even if his wife was a little reluctant to seek consultation. "But I am not even sure you can help," he said, "because our situation is kind of unique."

"How's that?" I inquired. "Let me know what your special concerns are, and together we will decide if it is something I can help you with."

The man paused, composing his thoughts so that he could succinctly describe his "unique" situation to me. "Well, it's just that we work together and it is causing a lot of problems. I really love my wife, but employees are complaining about her to me and that puts me in the middle. And at home, things are pretty tense too. She doesn't seem happy with me at all. I think maybe there's a kind of competition thing going on. So you see, this is kind of an unusual situation, and I am not sure you know much about this sort of thing, or if anyone does."

More often than not, this is how my first conversation with a member of an entrepreneurial couple goes. One spouse or the other calls, with trepidation about whether anyone can help. The isolation of entrepreneurial couple life has led them to believe that their situation is unique, when in fact, entrepreneurial couples are quite common.

In addition, the assumption that the other spouse is reluctant to seek consultation is also common. This assumption, however, is often incorrect. Entrepreneurs are usually so busy working and not communicating intimately with their business partner/spouse, that they don't realize that he or she is just as concerned about their problems as is the caller.

Making the phone call to me was a first step toward self-awareness for that entrepreneurial husband. Realizing that you are not alone is a powerful thing. Knowing that others have gone before you somehow makes it easier to explore the challenging territory of couple entrepreneurship.

In my book, Entrepreneurial Couples: Making It Work at Work and at Home, I have a series of in-depth exercises to help entrepreneurial couples examine all areas of their work and home life including money, health and parenting. Self-awareness is too important to be left to moments of crisis. Since change is inevitable and nothing lasts forever, people who seek out change and opportunities for purposeful growth will be one step ahead of others.

And remember, even the most serious heartache you have ever faced—be it an extramarital affair, financial loss, drug addiction, physical disease, or divorce—can provide an opportunity for growth and add to your wisdom. Those of you brave enough to really look at the serious dysfunction in your lives can still develop a meaningful entrepreneurial life with your spouse and family. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment or consider remote consultation if you live out of the area.

Successful Estate Plans Consider the Soft Side of the Family First

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


consult a psychologist before estate planning so you sort out the family business issues firstMost entrepreneurs are so caught up in the passion of their enterprise that they rarely plan ahead for the wealth that accumulates. As a result, when it comes time to develop an estate plan, many entrepreneurs are at a loss for where to start.

It would seem that the logical place to start is with your attorney, CPA, investment advisor or banker. However, while all of these professionals should play a part in the development of your estate plan eventually, the first stop on the way to a successful estate plan is the psychologist's office to deal with the soft side of the family business. Many an estate plan has been left undeveloped because the interpersonal relationships in the family were counter to the best interests of the business.

Family firms are a system of family members, in-laws, shareholders and stakeholders. These systems interact with vendors, customers, employees, and the commercial community at large. It’s a delicate balance to maintain a successful business and a successful family enterprise when the systems are integrated into a family firm. The stress on the system becomes even greater when it’s time to develop a plan for the continuity of the business and the family, and a fair apportionment of wealth. If the family doesn’t have mature and healthy interpersonal relationships, the process of estate planning can be costly, painful and unsuccessful.

Consider for example a CEO who is about to retire. He has two daughters and wants to gives each daughter an equal share. One daughter has worked with him for years. The other daughter has never worked for her father but now that he’s retiring, she and her husband want to take a more active position in the company. The first daughter feels she deserves to continue as the president of the company. And she is not pleased about her sister's new interest. Nor does she like her father's decision to treat them equally. Where this family once got along fine, a new problem is growing that they never had to face before. How would you are your advisors handle this "hot potato"?

To create an estate plan that truly integrates the success of the family and the firm, it’s necessary to seek the help of a psychologist who understands the soft side of families and particularly those families who are in business together. Cleaning up root interpersonal problems is essential to the development of a meaningful estate plan that doesn’t increase family conflict. For example, with the help of a psychologist, the father with two daughters learned that "fair" was more appropriate than "equal" when it came to dividing the wealth and the business with his daughters.

If you have worked hard to create an enterprise you can be proud of and want to pass a legacy onto your children and grandchildren, first evaluate the soft side of your family system for any unresolved issues. Then take these concerns to a psychologist trained to help with untangling family knots and reweaving a healthy family/business tapestry. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.
Entrepreneurial Couples Checklist for Success

How Therapy Can Give You the Competitive Advantage in Business and Life

Friday, June 19, 2015


entrepreneurs can get a competitive advantage from therapyHigh-powered executives know the secret to getting a competitive edge. They recognize when something is missing and they’re not afraid to do what it takes to find it. They know that seeking help at the first sign of trouble keeps them moving forward. So they’re comfortable seeking help from counselors and therapists.

Are there areas in your business and home life that would benefit from counseling? Check out the following list of feelings and the consequences for ignoring them and see if any of them resonate with you...

Do I still keep up with my commitments, but the effort seems pointless and tiresome? (The longer you wait the greater the likelihood you’ll experience burnout.)

Do I feel unfulfilled and unhappy with my home life and business life? (The longer you wait the greater your chances are for a mid-life crisis, health issues, family breakup, or losing your business.)

Do I feel like my motivation and energy are gone? (The longer you wait the harder it is to get going again and you may tragically give up.)

Do I feel negative behaviors becoming more a part of who I am and I don’t like it? (The longer you wait the more time, money and effort it takes to improve.)

Do I feel like I’m not functioning at my best? (The longer you wait the more you’ll resist change.)

Do I want to be a better person but don’t think I can change? (The longer you wait the more likely you’ll settle for the status quo and miss out on your greater purpose.)

Do I experience unexplained health problems? (The longer you wait the more irreparable damage is done to your brain, heart and immune system)

Do I put myself down and have low self-esteem? (The longer you wait the more convinced you’ll become that you deserve a life of less than.)

Do I treat others in a disagreeable, critical and negative way? (The longer you wait the more damage you’ll do to relationships you cherish.)

Do I feel stuck? (The longer you wait the more you’ll repeat past mistakes.)

Do I feel invisible and unappreciated at home or at work? (The longer you wait the more likely it is that you’ll get passed over and won’t get credit you deserve.)

Do I want to communicate more effectively but can’t seem to connect? (The longer you wait the more likely you’ll lose opportunities for building great relationships.)

Do I want to increase management skills, i.e. time, people, organizational? (The longer you wait the more likely you’ll never achieve your goals and desires.)

We don’t think it’s strange to go to medical doctors, hire personal trainers or seek spiritual guidance from religious leaders. It’s time we erased the stigma attached to seeing a mental health therapist.

Why not reach out to a business coach or professional counselor so you can tap into your own competitive edge? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. We can tailor a success program for you.

Learn more on my website: When to Seek Help and Therapy FAQs.

How Does Your Two-Career Family Divvy Up the Housework?

Monday, June 08, 2015


two career families divvy up the housworkDo you remember before you married you each promised that you’d split the running of the household and childcare 50-50 since you both had careers? Is that still working for you or have more of the household tasks migrated back onto your plate? Or rather are these tasks just going undone?

To keep the household and childcare covered, one person, usually the mother, has to keep things organized, scheduling the to-do lists, doctor appointments, school permission slips, extracurricular activities, and so forth. This greatly affects how much time and energy mom has left for working secularly. That’s not to say the dad doesn’t want to spend more time with the children, because he does. Yet he feels driven to work to take care of his family.

In a recent New York Times article, various studies were examined to determine today’s reality of housework equality. One 2008 study by Dr. Lareau and sociologist Elliot B. Weininger found, “Mothers’ paid work hours go up when children’s activities go down, whereas fathers’ paid hours are not affected by how much their children do.” This indicates that juggling home and work puts a tremendous drain of time and energy for moms.

The article goes on to explore the perception of both sexes: “Half of the men surveyed in a Families and Work Institute study from 2008 said they were either the responsible parent or shared the role equally with their spouse, while two-thirds of the women said they were the one in charge. This suggests that either men overestimate their contribution or women define the work differently.”

I’ve often commented that communication is key to successfully merging family life and work life. Yet, with frayed nerves, stress, and overworked emotions, conflict arises and good communication skills often go out the window.

Is it time to reconnect with your spouse, but you don’t know how? Many have found that it helps to enlist the expertise of a professional who can help you reorganize priorities and teach you tools of communication to cut through the conflict. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help. It’s truly a sign of maturity and strength to be so committed to your marriage that you’ll do whatever is needed to make it work. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment and we can talk about how to help your family be happy and strong.

Read more on my website: Dual Career Couples and Conflict and Communication.

Entrepreneurial Couples Checklist for Success Free Ebook

What To Do When Alcoholism and Drug Abuse is Ripping the Family Business Apart

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


alcoholism and drug abusing ripping the family apartAlcoholism and other drug abuse is an epidemic in our country. It’s so wide spread that our schools have developed substance abuse prevention programs to educate our youth. The courts are less tolerant of alcohol related traffic infractions. And who hasn’t heard of the rehab centers the movie stars and politicians check themselves in and out of?

Substance abuse lowers production, increases accidents, lowers quality work, and contributes to the loss of skilled employees. To combat this, employers have established employee assistance programs and redesigned insurance benefits to create treatment options for employees. These programs treat the addict AND the family, because the strength of the family determines the addict's success in treatment.

Employers want to rehabilitate and return a healthy employee to the job. Yet among family firms, drug addiction and alcohol abuse are frequently overlooked. Many people who work in family firms, yet are not family members, talk about the "secret" at work. The secret that everyone knows – that there’s a family member who is abusing drugs or alcohol. Yet no one does anything about it. The family member is protected not only by the family, but by a general conspiracy among employees.

While the function of the family is to nurture and protect its members and usually takes precedence over the welfare of the business or other non-family related employees, this isn’t helping the alcoholic or the drug addict.

To overlook, condone, deny, rationalize or minimize the problem for the sake of keeping the family system in tact is a misguided sympathy. Allowing addictions to go untreated is no way to take care of either the business or the family. By ignoring the problem the addict accepts this as tacit approval of their behavior. This causes the potential threat to the integrity of the family and business to grow. Alcoholism and other addictions leads to the breakdown of the family, just what a family firm wants to avoid.

How can the addict get help, while being reassured that he or she has the backing of the family and business? There are a variety of resources available. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment to discover the right treatment for you or your loved one. With the support of the two most important systems in one's life, the addict has increased potential to succeed in treatment. They have a loving family and they have a job to come back to.

Read more on my website: Alcoholism Recovery and How Friends Can Help.

Why the 50-50 Rule Isn’t Good Enough for Entrepreneurial Couples to Succeed

Monday, May 25, 2015


the 50-50 Rule isn't good enough for entrepreneurial couplesAccording to the January 2015 Gallup report, “400,000 new businesses are being born annually nationwide, while 470,000 per year are dying. And of the estimated 26 million businesses in America, 20 million of these reported businesses are inactive companies that have no sales, profits, customers or workers. There are only 6 million businesses in the United States with one or more employees. Of those, 3.8 million have four or fewer employees – mom and pop shops owned by people who aren't building a business as much as they are building a life.”

What do successful entrepreneurial couples know about keeping a marriage and a business on track that you should know, too? Whether in business or marriage, problem solving requires gathering information. It just makes common sense to find out what successful entrepreneurial couples know and do that works for them. Out of these strategies, you may find a nugget that applies to you and your spouse.

Do you apply the 100% - 100% Rule?

As a family business coach, over the years, I have had the opportunity to meet many entrepreneurial couples and there’s a pattern among those who have long-term happy marriages interwoven with a prosperous business life. First and foremost they follow the 100% - 100% Rule. That is, each partner considers her or himself 100% responsible for the quality of her or his individual life as well as their joint ventures (i.e., parenting, household duties, managing and promoting a business).

While most couples follow a 50% - 50% Rule, meeting each other half way, by following the 100% - 100% Rule entrepreneurial couples meet each other all of the way. They each put his or her whole self, talents, intuitions, and muscle into the relationships of marriage and business partnership, making each equally responsible for the outcome. Even though for efficiency's sake they may divide up duties along the lines of who is most capable or available, they still consider themselves as responsible as their partner for the success of the goal.

What often get’s in the way of implementing the 100% - 100% Rule? Worrying about ego or pride, which is a waste of precious energy that can better be used in pursuit of your dreams or being creative. It’s better to re-direct your achievement need toward the things you do best at the business or at home. That way not only do you succeed, but your spouse, family, business and community benefits too. What better way to express the 100% - 100% Rule!

If you need an outside arbitrator to settle an ongoing family/business problem and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. Did you know you can get remote education too? Check out Remote Education for Entrepreneurial Couples.

Read more on my website: Entepreneurial Life.

Latest BBC Interview on Going into Business with Your Husband

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Recently, I was interviewed by Kate Ashford, a BBC journalist, on the topic of entrepreneurial couples. After giving examples of some success stories, she talked about how it’s quite a gamble going into business with your romantic partner, especially if your work ethics are very different. (Read the entire article here: Going into business with your husband.)


Here are twelve things she learned after interviewing various experts including myself.

1. Wait until you’ve been married awhile so you know how you and your spouse will handle ups and downs.

2. Build a good foundation of respect and trust with your spouse first.

3. Acquire good business skills such as money management, accounting, reading a profit-and-loss statement.

4. Treat the business seriously and write a solid business plan, drawing up necessary contracts and legal partnerships. (Writing it down tricks the brain into thinking about what could happen that you should plan for.)

5. Create an exit strategy for business failure, divorce, or physical impairment due to an accident or illness.

6. Outline how children will fit into the mix.

7. Hire a tax professional to set the business structure up properly.

8. Create a strategy where both partners are aware of the money flow.

9. Designate roles according to the strengths and weaknesses of each partner.

10. Give each other alone time.

11. Keep your business and personal lives separate by creating a trigger routine that switches your roles. For example, one couple gives each other a big hug to remind them that they’re a romantic couple from this time until the next working day.

12. Make time for yourselves as a couple, as a family, as individuals.

There will be things that you have to put on hold until the business gets off the ground, and, if you’re not careful, you’ll find that your personal life no longer is working.

Are you an entrepreneurial couple and you find you’ve lost your work/home balance and want to get it back before it’s too late? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. Or take advantage of my remote education for Entrepreneurial Couples. Learn more about that here.

Learn more on my website: Entrepreneurial Life and from my book on Entrepreneurial Couples.



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