What has it cost me as the spouse of a business owner? Well, it’s certainly complicated some things. Today we were at a soccer game for my son. We played against a team who’s coach is the husband of my best friend from college. Actually I’ve known her since the fifth grade and we’ve been through a lot together. She was the maid of honor in my wedding and I was the matron of honor in hers. However, we don’t really see or speak to each other much anymore, because about 10 years ago our husbands went into a business venture together and it bombed. The painful result is that we no longer hang out. There’s not actually any bad blood between us, but it was just so awkward after the fallout that we drifted.
Today at the game I suggested to my husband that he go shake hands with the coach as a friendly gesture. Now, you have to understand that when Adam cuts someone off it’s literally like they’re dead to him. There is no hate or ill intent. He simply doesn’t think about them again. Ever. He blew off the idea of shaking hands and, I admit that I MAY have overreacted in the moment. Tempers flared. Words were said. It wasn’t pretty. In my defense, the loss of my friend still stings to this day. And now the result of my lash out is that I am looking forward to several days of passive aggressive silent treatment.
So, how do we move forward when the resentment from damaging business relationships holds on so tightly? Well, firstly, I have to understand why I reacted so strongly. This is not a business specific thing. This is true for any fight in any kind of relationship. Anger is a secondary emotion meaning that it usually stems from a primary hurt. And if you’re going to lash out why not do it at someone comfortable who has to forgive you eventually.
In this case, I blamed the disintegration of a relationship on Adam. It was the collateral damage of a business venture. It’s always seemed to me that Adam see the world as resources and opportunities, not people and relationships. That’s not to say that he’s not a good friend or that he doesn’t care about people, he just sees things on a different plane. He hates it when I say that he lives life like one big game, moving the pieces around to fit a strategy. Adding business into the mix of a friendship does add a layer of complication, but Adam really does his utmost to protect us and others and to mitigate the risks. Making hard, pragmatic decisions is just part of the job. Understanding and believing that my husband is not malicious is a big part of getting over any perceived damages. Nobody ever set out to hurt anybody. The phrase “It’s not personal; it’s business” rings true.
The other thing to consider is that it’s easy to let Adam and our business lifestyle be the scapegoat for everything. After all, this is a challenging way to live and a relatively small community. Family/friends/business are bound to bleed together. This is not the first time and it probably won’t be the last. The truth is that there were other factors that effected my relationship with my friend. Factors that are convenient to forget when there’s someone else who can assume the blame. The road goes both ways. And while there is no love lost for this sweet friend I now know in my old age that I am a sensitive person (much as I loathe to admit it). I like being liked and I don’t like people being mad at me. I honestly don’t think she is mad at me. Even if she is, I can’t fix things if she doesn’t want me to. In that case, that would be on her. I can only show up for people who show up for me. But, I think life just happens and we all do what we can to keep our heads above water and in the current we drift away. I love her and I miss her. I wish her the best and I hope we’ll realign later down the road. Adam can’t take all the credit for this one.
You’re probably wondering how long I stayed in the dog house. Well, I’m happy to report that at least one of us has matured enough to handle these things better than we have in previous years. This could have gone in for days, weeks even. But after a little space, Adam approached me privately (not in front of the kids) and asked why I’d reacted so strongly. I know how hard that must have been for him. He’s not fond of uncomfortable situations or rehashing things. I’m glad we got a chance to talk it out calmly and while I certainly had my serving of crow, he does feel bad for any part he may have played in it all. But I see now that relationship evolutions are not unique to the business lifestyle. It’s time to let go of past hurts and look to the future.