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Kathy Marshack News

Essential Skills for Entrepreneurial Couples Revealed in My Interview for “The Guardian”

Wednesday, May 07, 2014


Essential skills for entrepreneurial couplesIn my latest interview on my work with entrepreneurial couples I discussed with British Journalist, Mark Williams that the main problem when working with loved ones is linked to relationship intensity. Since we care more about what they think of us and vice versa, the work and home environment can become ripe for conflict.

Perhaps you, like many other couples, are contemplating choosing the entrepreneurial lifestyle. While there are great risks to choosing this lifestyle, there are also many rewards. To provide a basis for resolving the inevitable conflicts, there are three essentials skills that couples would do well to contemplate before starting this entrepreneurial journey together.

Know Yourself as an Individual
I believe that those who have proved themselves capable as individuals before starting a business together usually do much better. Then you both know that you could do it alone, but that you'd rather run your business with your loved one. That's a strong position to be in.

Assign Specific Responsibilities
To help create clear boundaries, it’s important to assess the strengths of each individual and assign responsibilities according to the abilities that each marriage/business partner has, not portioning them out because “that’s a man’s job” or “that’s what women are supposed to do”. What matters is what will work for you as a couple.

Good Communication
Drawing a convenient line between personal and business isn't realistic. Couples need to be good at transitioning between the two, which you'll need to do many times each day. Without good communication skills and quality time dedicated to communicating, relationships soon flounder and fail. In relationships and business, open and honest communication can ensure that minor issues don't develop into major problems. Problems must be recognized and worked through to mutual agreement. So what boundaries will you set as to when and how you communicate about family and business matters?

The most important thing to remember is to always put love first. Without it – who would you share your business successes with? Don't compromise to avoid conflict. And follow your dream, as long as your spouse really shares that dream.

Want a great resource that helps families in business stay up-to-date with the best strategies for making a success of Work and Love? Sign up to receive my monthly Entrepreneurial Couples Newsletter.

You can also start connecting with other entrepreneurial couples via my new Meetup, ENTREPRENEURS: Making it Work for Couples and Families.

For more information of the Entrepreneurial Lifestyle, read on my website – Entrepreneurial Life.

Can Mobile Apps Help Entrepreneurial Couples Stay Close?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


families in business can use mobile apps to stay connectedIt’s not uncommon for families to be in one room, but each person is “alone” because they’re so engrossed in their own mobile device. They may even be texting each other. So obviously, there is a down side to the proliferation of mobile devices and internet access. But is there a plus side?

According to the Pew Research Internet Project, 66% of American couples are using tech devices to communicate with their life partners. Here are some of their findings:

  • “10% say that the internet has had a “major impact” on their relationship, and 17% say that it has had a “minor impact.” Fully 72% say the internet has “no real impact at all” on their partnership.
  • 74% say the impact was positive. 20% said the impact was mostly negative, and 4% said it was both good and bad.
  • 25% say they have texted their partner when they were both home together.
  • 21% have felt closer to their partner because of exchanges they had online or via text message.
  • 9% have resolved an argument via online/text message that they were having difficulty resolving in person.
  • 25% have felt their partner was distracted by cell phone when together.
  • font-size: 13px; color: #333333;">8% have had an argument with their partner about the amount of time one of them was spending online.
  • 4% have gotten upset at something that they found out their partner was doing online.”

In a recent CNN article, “I had a Nice Time with You Tonight. On the App”, the author, Jenna Wortham explores a variety of new Apps to help keep couples connected. Mentioned were Gchat, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Avocado, Couple, Between and You & Me. If either you or your partner travel for business, checking out these apps would be worthwhile so that you stay connected with your partner. Phone tag is a thing of the past with these apps.

While I don’t advocate technology taking the place of in person communication, in today’s busy world it’s best to find ways to stay connected as best as we are able. Good communication is the key to successful entrepreneurial marriages. Join me on Facebook at (https://www.facebook.com/Kathy.Marshack.Ph.D) and share your experiences. 


For more information, see Entrepreneurial Life and Co-preneur Resources.

My Interview on NPR and Resources for Copreneurs Who Want to Succeed at Work and at Home

Friday, April 18, 2014


Copreneurs Couples in Business TogetherI was recently interviewed for a NPR story on, When Divorce Leads to a Happily Ever After for a Small Business. Now this is possible. The reporter speaks with couples who are divorced that have maintained a healthy business partnership, after dissolving their marriage. Of course, if you’ve been following my work for very long, you recognize that the goal for many couples is to stay happily married as they work in their business together.

Yuki Noguchi of NPR news interviewed me for this piece and one truth I shared is, “It's easy to be blind about love or business, but it's also unwise. We just believe that if we love somebody that should be the tie that binds us together in loyalty forever. But we live here on Earth, and all kinds of things happen here."

The latest statistics from the Census Bureau, is that married couples in America co-own 3.7 million small businesses. And for many of them, their marriages and business will survive and thrive as they work through the challenges. Divorce doesn’t have to be the inevitable outcome.

The NPR story focused on one major challenge to couples in business, the loss of trust due to sexual infidelity. But there are so many other challenges. So, I thought I’d pull together some of the big topics and resources from my website that can help.

The big challenges that copreneurs face while trying to keep business and family together:


Typically, problems that copreneurs face arise because there aren’t clear boundaries set between home and work. The couples who successfully maneuver through problems use a variety of techniques to keep conflict to a minimum. Most importantly, successful copreneurs are good communicators. They talk with each other frequently about any problems that arise. In the intense and emotional environment of a couple-owned business, good communication and conflict resolution skills are a must. Couple who need to learn these skills can get help from a qualified family counselor. Please feel free to contact my Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington office to ask if this is a good option for your family.

If you’ve read my book, Entrepreneurial Couples – Making it Work at Work and at Home, you know that I’ve been working hard to give couples the skills to make it work at Work and at Home so that divorce is not a foregone conclusion to the unique stresses of working with your life partner.

If you haven’t done so already, please sign up for my Entrepreneurial Couples newsletter and stay up-to-date on the latest news for families that work together.

Now you can add a new resource to your toolbox—the new, free Meetup, ENTREPRENEURS: Making it Work for Couples and Families. There’s a local, monthly meetup in Vancouver, Washington or if that’s not practical for where you live, there’s a teleconference where we’re connecting with families in business from around the world. Join us and you’ll get all the details.

Tips on Finding the Right Support Group For You

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Finding the Best Support Group for YouWe all need someone to talk with that understands our unique situation and non-judgmentally supports us as we travel through our journey of life. A good Support Group will provide you with needed emotional support and often give you information on the latest treatment or research on your particular concern. In today’s technological world, you can either attend a local Support Group in person or you can join an online Support Group.

But you may have some questions before joining … How can you be sure the group you’re joining is going to be a healthy environment for you? What are some ways of identifying a good Support Group? I found an informative article written by John Grohol Psy.D, founder of PsychCentral.com that can help you identify characteristics of a good Support Group. Some of these are listed below:

A good Support Group has a community that is stable. You can determine this by how well it’s moderated and how long it’s been functioning. A group that has a moderator AND an administrative team will be able to continually bring new resources to you without the group leader burning out and shutting the group down.

Find a Support Group with members who are welcoming, non-judgmental and open to sharing. You want to be encouraged, not discouraged, in your chosen group.

The best Support Group has a non-techy, user-friendly site. If you’re stressing out over the tech stuff, you won’t be reaping any benefits from the group.

A reasonable Support Group clearly posts its guidelines and rules of conduct so everyone knows the boundaries of what’s acceptable and what’s not.

A secure Support Group guards your privacy so nothing you say is splashed across the worldwide web inadvertently.

Look for a Support Group that offers you the features that are important to you. Are you interested in just reading what people have posted or do you desire more, such as mood tracking tools, treatment or product reviews, or a live chat room?

I facilitate two very supportive and secure Meetups. One is for Entrepreneurial Couples and Families. The other is for Partners & Family of Adults with Asperger Syndrome. Both of these Groups have local Meetups and International Teleconferences that are uniting members around the world.

I’m very excited about my newest Support Group – a Meetup for ENTREPRENEURS-Making It Work for Couples and Families. We focus on learning to balance Work and Love, the two things entrepreneurial families cherish most. The local Meetup is held once a month in Vancouver, Washington.

The Meetup for Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with AS has been supporting Neuro-Typicals who care for adult Aspie family since 2009. At our last call our international AS Group included people from around the globe. The local Meetup is held once a month in Portland, Oregon.

I am passionate about providing ongoing education for these two diverse topics. My team and I are working hard to provide you with a secure environment the gives the support you crave and deserve. If you have any questions about either one of these Meetup Support Groups, please feel free to contact us.

NEW MEETUP: ENTREPRENEURS – Making It Work for Couples and Families!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Entrepreneurial Couples Making it Work at Work and at HomeHave you ever felt alone? Like you’re the only one going through a unique situation? Of course, you know there are support groups for people with addiction problems, family crises, and so forth, but it’s hard for entrepreneurial couples to find people who understand the unique challenges you face. Many of your peers may be going through the same things, and they may complain about it, but few are talking about how to solve the problems.

I’m happy to announce that there is now a place for you to gather with fellow entrepreneurial couples who are struggling with the same issues you are such as...

  • No boundaries between home and work. 
  • A lack of intimacy because all you talk about is work.
  • No time to focus on personal rejuvenation.
  • Avoidance techniques instead of meaningful communication on problems.
  • Parenting conflicts, especially when kids begin working for the family business.

I’ve organized a monthly, local Meetup in Vancouver, Washington. If you become part of our group, you’ll be sent an email with the date, time and location.

What is a local Meetup?

Meetup is the world's largest online networking service that helps anyone organize a local group so people with similar interests can meet face-to-face. This is a great resource for entrepreneurial couples and families in business together.

You know that hard work and discipline are needed to launch a business. No less is needed to keep it going. The same is true for our loving relationships. But the pressures of work can get in the way of love. Our new Meetup group is designed to help entrepreneurs get the tools to make it work at work and at home. Learn how to meet the challenges and stresses of working with your spouse and family so you can have the best of both worlds - a successful business and a strong relationship with your family.

If you live in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington you can join us in person for our first Meetup ENTREPRENEURS – Making it Work for Couples and Families in May. We’ll have a chance to share a meal together and discuss our experiences and ways to look at your situation from a new perspective.

And I have more great news! I know many of you would love to be there in person but can’t because the distance is just too far to travel. I’m arranging to provide the same opportunity for meeting fellow entrepreneurial couples via a free conference call. True, we won’t be sharing a meal, but on the plus side you get to stay at home and get practical advice on how to cope with your unique entrepreneurial challenges. I know you’re going to want to take advantage of this opportunity.

The doors are open and you can sign up today to be part of this special community of people who truly know what you’re going through. And I’ll use my 30 plus years of experience as a psychologist and family business coach to guide you toward healthier thoughts and actions. Plus you’ll have access to a safe, members-only online community. See you soon.

In preparation for our Meetup and to lay the groundwork, I encourage you to grab a copy of my book, Entrepreneurial Couples Making it Work at Work and at Home.

Stressed? Take a Break and Let Your Brain Do Its Job

Monday, March 24, 2014


when stressed, take a break and let your brain workYou’ve got a deadline and you’re starting to sweat. The project you’re working on just isn’t coming together as you’d hoped. It’s like your brain has shut down, but now is when you need it the most. What can you do?

Rather than sitting there and becoming more anxious and stressed, we’re commonly advised to get up and do something not associated with the problem, such as taking a short walk, do some cleaning, or listen to your favorite music. Does this advice really work? And if so, why?

If you’ve tried it, you know that it does work. And here’s why:

Your prefrontal cortex (your forehead area) works to concentrate on the task in front of you but it’s also supposed to retrieve stored information from your memory. Then it combines these two elements so you can solve the problem. The problem that’s described above arises because you keep your prefrontal cortex too focused on the task. It can’t do the search and retrieval from your memory. When you get up and get involved in a different activity, it gives your brain a break. Now your prefrontal cortex has the freedom to search through your memory unhindered. It can then put together pieces of stored information in completely new ways.

For your brain to come up with creative solutions for your problems, you need to allow your brain to go through these four phases.

Put the knowledge into your brain’s memory banks. Your brain can’t retrieve what’s not in your memory. By reading extensively, conversing with experts, and attending workshops, you can gather a great deal of useful information. This exploration gives a variety of perspectives that you can apply to the problem.

Give your brain a break. Engage in activities totally unrelated to the subject. If you can, take the sage advice: "Why don't you sleep on it?” Getting away from a problem and letting the subconscious mind work on it often allows creativity to spring forth.

Let the brain combine the present task with the retrieved knowledge. This phase of the creative process is the most exciting because it’s at this time that you discover the idea or solution that you’re seeking. Don’t simply dismiss your ideas because they seem too far-fetched. Instead, jot them down. You can refine them later. And, who knows, they may be the beginning of a great solution.

Have the courage and self-discipline to train your brain to evaluate and Implement. Identify the ideas that are workable and that you have skills to implement. If you encounter temporary obstacles, don’t give up. Failure will lead to better ideas.

If you find that you’re prone to jumping from one project to the next, take a look at my website – Personal Growth/Gifted Adults - for why this might be happening and how you can develop your abilities more fully.

Need help unleashing your creativity? Consider setting up an appointment with a psychologist. You don’t have to be suffering to get help, especially if you want to optimize your mental health. If you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area, please contact my office for an in depth consultation.

Entrepreneurial Couples – It’s Your Choice – Keep Managing Crises or Start Living Purposefully

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


happy entrepreneurial couples living purposefullyMost of the time, people are so busy with work and life they tend to make adjustments in life only when there is a major crisis. They quit smoking and lose weight when they’ve had a heart attack. They curtail spending habits, when the house goes to foreclosure. They consider their marriage, when a spouse leaves.

Yet, change is inevitably happening every day, and when entrepreneurial couples harness the energy in change, you can create meaning or purpose out of it. It puts you in charge rather than in a reactive position of always fixing problems. In simple terms, you don’t have to be sick to get better.

Change leads to either growth or deterioration. It seems wise, then, to accept that you’re a changing individual in a changing world, and it’s important to make time to work as a couple toward meaningful and purposeful growth. Of course, crises will continue to happen, since we can’t accurately predict everything. Yet crises do not have to be the norm, if you learn to pay attention to the signals that a change is coming. (Actually, these are really signs that reorganization has already started to take place.)

Some of those signals are subtle, such as feeling bored or confused. Another subtle signal is sticking with a habit that doesn’t now produce the desired results, although at one time it may have been useful. Turning points in life signal change. You can learn to use these developmental milestones to reset your course.

Your goal should be to access purposeful growth instead of just changing for the sake of change. Changing jobs or starting a new business because you’re bored will not guarantee success. When the newness wears off, you may find yourself once again in the same predicament, unsatisfied with your life. Being alert to these subtle warning signs of change helps you proactively recognize opportunities that will benefit you, your spouse, and the business.

Often we miss the wide scope of possibilities. Therefore seeking advice helps you discover a wider range of opportunities. By focusing on changing yourself first, you expand your consciousness through life-enhancing activities and continual education, which leads to self-awareness. You can then take positive steps toward your commitment to getting and staying physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy. You become more skilled at resolving immediate problems, correcting past mistakes, and moving ahead with the new opportunities. This approach also enables you to encourage the development of your spouse, partner, employees, and children, which benefits you, too.

Changing from a problem-solving mode into self-awareness and growth may be difficult, especially for busy entrepreneurial couples. I’m here to help. Please feel free to contact my Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington office to schedule a consultation. If you live elsewhere, take a look at remote education for entrepreneurial couples that allows us to connect via video or telephone conference. The possibilities for your life, your partner's life, and your business are unlimited.

Learn more in my book: Entrepreneurial Couples – Making it Work at Work and Home. Grab your Kindle edition here.

Do You Need Creativity to Survive?

Friday, February 28, 2014


creativity means thinking outside the boxCreativity has long been associated with the arts. The general population may feel that they aren’t creative. While some do have a greater aptitude for creativity than others, it is not a rare gift reserved for only a few. Creativity comes when you learn to look at the world in a different way. You see relationships between things that others can’t see.

Interestingly, a recent article in The New York Times by Laura Pappano reports that more institutes of higher learning are teaching creativity as a marketable skill for industries such as business, education, digital media, humanities, engineering, science, nursing, justice and safety.

She quotes Gerard J. Puccio, chairman of the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College, “The reality is that to survive in a fast-changing world you need to be creative.” He heads the nation’s oldest creative studies program that has been offered since 1967.

Dr. Puccio developed a four-step system that he and partners market as FourSight and sell to schools, businesses and individuals. His steps are clarifying (ask the right question), ideating (brainstorming without listening to the inner naysayer), developing (trying out your solution until you find one that works) and implementing (convincing others your idea has value).

She also talks about Dr. Burnett’s Introduction to Creative Studies survey course, where students can enhance their own creativity by rephrasing problems as questions, learning not to instinctively shoot down a new idea but look for three positives first, and categorizing whether a problem needs action, planning or invention.

No doubt you can see commonalities between these approaches. Creativity requires open, positively thinking outside the box. Being willing to accept change. Feeling safe and confident in the way you perceive yourself. Having a willingness to fail and try again. Sounds like a recipe for success if you’re in therapy!

In fact, I tell my clients – especially entrepreneurs – that if you have a good idea, sometimes you just need to run with it. It may or may not work, but allowing your creative juices to flow will only enhance your entrepreneurial abilities. With practice and time you can improve your creativity skills and, who knows, a failed creative thought or idea may not work for a particular situation at present, but it may for another one down the line.

What do you think? How important is creativity in your career? Join me on Facebook – I’d like to hear your thoughts on this and other subjects.

Entrepreneurial Couples - Do You and Your Spouse Think About Money in the Same Way?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


entrepreneurial couples view of money mattersThe following phrases and bits of wisdom are based on beliefs that are deeply rooted in our cultural history. As you read through these phrases and statements, check out your feelings, your gut reactions to each. Do some seem truer than others? Do some make you feel uneasy? Which phrase or aphorism rings the truest for you? Which one delights you? And what other bits of wisdom about money can you think of?

  • Money can't buy love.
  • You can't take it with you.
  • Dirty money.
  • Filthy rich.
  • Cold, hard cash.
  • As phony as a three-dollar bill.
  • A penny saved is a penny earned.
  • Buy low, sell high.
  • Two for the price of one.
  • A fool and his money are soon parted.
  • It's as easy to marry a rich man as a poor one.
  • It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
  • Penny wise and pound foolish.
  • Money talks.
  • Love of money is the root of all evil.

Would your marriage mate agree with your answers? Since many marital fights are over money, it’s good for everyone, especially entrepreneurial couples, to reexamine what money means to you and what you want it to mean. Only by uncovering your beliefs about money and how they are affecting your most intimate relationships will you be able to challenge the beliefs that are not healthy or productive.

Has money become an overwhelming issue in your marriage? If so, please consult a trained therapist to help you resolve this situation now. Financial problems are really just the tip of the iceberg for couples, concealing deeper, hidden issues between family members. Contact my Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA office to set up an appointment.

Also, check out my book, Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home. It’s an invaluable resource for reeducating yourself about money, redefining your attitudes about wealth, and planning for the healthy management of your wealth. I suggest reading and discussing it together as a couple so you can openly discuss this touchy topic.

What 40 Years of Science Reveals About Happiness

Thursday, January 09, 2014


the three main factors that result in happinessAfter over thirty five years counseling clients and helping them discover what happiness means to them personally, I was interested to read a recent article in the New York Times on this subject. The president of the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank in Washington, D.C., reported on what scientists have discovered about happiness after studying it for 40 years.

Scientists have determined that three major things impact happiness – our genes, events, and our values. Here's what the research shows:

Genetics: Researchers at the University of Minnesota have studied identical twins separated at birth and found that genetics is responsible for about 48.5% percent of our happiness.

Events: Measured to account for 40 percent of our happiness, the effect of events on our happiness is usually short-lived. Today we may be ecstatic about landing our dream job, but within a month or so that euphoria wears off.

Values: While the smallest percentage of our happiness is attributed to our values, this is something totally within our control. We get to choose what value we place on the basics – faith, family, community and meaningful work.

The article also went on to reveal that meaningful life and work isn’t successfully measured by the amount of money you have or what you buy. Mr. Brooks explains more, “Rewarding work is unbelievably important, and this is emphatically not about money. That’s what research suggests as well. Economists find that money makes truly poor people happier insofar as it relieves pressure from everyday life — getting enough to eat, having a place to live, taking your kid to the doctor. But scholars have found that once people reach a little beyond the average middle-class income level, even big financial gains don’t yield much, if any, increases in happiness.”

In order to be happy, you must know yourself first. This means becoming knowledgeable about the connections between your personal life, your family life and your work life. Understanding your personal family dynamics and how they interact with your career or business creates a more successful life balance.

This is especially true for family business owners, your personal life influences your business decisions, and vice versa. Therefore, it is well worth your while to become more knowledgeable about your personality style, your family values, your blind spots and how they shape your daily actions. Self-Assessment is a good place to start in reevaluating your attitude toward work and money. If you’re an entrepreneur you will find many self-assessment exercises, including Your Financial Plan in my book - Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home.

If you need help discovering a more meaningful, and happy, work-life balance please contact my Portland Oregon/ Vancouver, Washington office and set up an appointment.


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