How to Handle an Unsupportive Spouse as a Business Woman
How to Handle an Unsupportive Spouse or Partner As a Big-Thinking Business Woman

177: How to Handle an Unsupportive Spouse or Partner As a Big-Thinking Business Woman

If your partner or spouse isn’t necessarily on board with your business ambitions, you’re not alone.

Lack of (emotional) support is a topic that comes up often for women business owners. In fact, it came up several times among attendees during my April mastermind retreat and even after everyone went back home.

Striking that balance (lacking a better word) between your role as a big-thinking business owner and your role as a relationship partner is challenging to find. But it’s not impossible!

In this episode of Time to Level Up, you’ll learn eight reasons why your significant other can be unsupportive of you pursuing your business dreams. I’ll also teach you four things to do to resolve it and make the situation (and the conversation about it) a little easier for you both.

What’s Covered in This Episode on How to Handle an Unsupportive Spouse

6:11 – Eight reasons why your partner might be opposing your business dreams and aspirations

18:26 – Four steps to create a balance between your big-thinking business ambition and happiness with your significant other

23:58 – What to do and what not to do when speaking with your partner or spouse about their support for your business dreams

26:30 – What your level of compromise in this situation will depend on and how to know you’re on the right track

Mentioned In How to Handle an Unsupportive Spouse or Partner As a Big-Thinking Business Woman

She Thinks Big by Andrea Liebross

Vision to Action Intensive

“My Partner Doesn’t Support My Career Dreams” by Kurt Smith | Psych Central

“What to Do When Your Spouse Doesn’t Support Your Dream” | Laura Noel | Stretch Into Success Consulting

Quotes from the Episode

“There’s a big difference between being grateful for what you have and settling for what you have.” – Andrea Liebross

“Get clear on what you want, in terms of your goal, your big thinking, your dream, and how you want to feel when you’re communicating this and requesting support.” – Andrea Liebross

“Know what you’re willing to give up or not give up, and stick to that. Asking for what you need from a compassion (not action) standpoint is very helpful.” – Andrea Liebross

Links to other episodes

174: Your Roadmap to Clarity: Inside the Vision to Action Intensive 

157: Motherhood’s Impact on Business Mastery and Personal Growth

137: Nine Fears Holding Female Entrepreneurs Back From Success

Hello, my friends, and welcome back to the podcast. This month in May, we are going to do a series of, we're calling it the mom series, where these episodes were really inspired by the fact that we are women business owners, and a lot of us have kids, and all of us are someone's daughter.

That is where I started to generate some of the ideas for this month's podcast. I think we’re going to do a series of three and this is the first one. But first, I just want to know how are you all doing? How are you? I am recording this podcast at 8:00 AM on a Monday morning, which is not a usual recording time for me, but over the past week, I have prepped these three episodes and I just want to get them out there to you. So let's do it, let's do it.

Here's the thing. This particular topic was inspired by me spending several days in April with my mastermind. This topic came up several times. It also came up when my women went back home and they were extremely enthusiastic and energized by what they had just experienced over the past week.

Then they go home and they've got someone at home that might say, "So what did you really do? I mean, is this all worth it?" Kind of striking the right balance between your role as a business owner and your role as a spouse or a partner is hard to find.

I don't love that word balance, but for today's podcast, I'm going to use it. If your partner or your spouse doesn't “support” your business dreams, it is even more challenging.

This topic came up over and over again at the retreat. The women who attended the retreat were honest and open in discussing it. I think a little surprised but happily surprised to find out that they're not the only ones alone in figuring out how to manage, or maybe more appropriately stated, manage their mind around having a spouse or partner that isn't necessarily 100% on board with all of your business dreams, all of your ambition, all of your desire.

They're not alone. Many of them felt this way and we talked about it. Does this sound like you sometimes? Do you feel like although your partner or spouse may technically be supporting your aspiration, they're not necessarily supporting your ambition or dreams?

Today we're going to talk a little about this. As I usually do, I go to the Googles to see what is out there on this topic. There actually was an article published in, or revised, previously published, but revised in 2022 in a publication called Psych Central.

I didn't think I was too far off in bringing this to the table. In that article, they described how we've got many priorities in life. I talk about that a lot in my book, She Thinks Big.

But two of the highest priorities on our list usually are our partner or relationship, and career or our business. When the relationship with your partner is going well and your career path or business path is on track, life can feel pretty good.

But what happens when those two things are at odds or your partner doesn't necessarily support the dreaming aspect of you and your business? I'm talking about support as supporting your dreams or ambition, supporting your big thinking, supporting your risk tolerance, I'm not talking about supporting you financially. I'm going to make that clarification too upfront.

But lack of this kind of support from your partner in this arena can cause problems and resolving them, figuring out how to deal with them is not always easy. In fact, having to make a choice between happiness and your relationship with your partner, happiness of your partner and moving forward with your business, up-leveling your business, or investing in your business, and you as the business owner can lead to some pretty unhappy times and possibly even the end of one of or both of those things.

However, what I want to share with you today are some steps that you can take to resolve the problem. First of all, why it might be happening, steps you can take to resolve it, and how you can make this whole situation a little bit easier for you and your partner.

Does this sound like something that you might be interested in listening to? I hope so. Here we go. Why do you think your partner is opposing your big thinking, opposing your aspirations? Well, I'm going to give you eight reasons why this might be happening. I want you to dig deep and figure out which of these eight reasons resonates with you the most, or do you think is most likely the case in your relationship?

Number one, why might they be opposed to this big thinking? Number one is because they feel threatened. If you are passionate about your business or your career, your partner may feel like you're prioritizing that over them.

I want you to consider how you "balance" your business and your personal time by asking yourself the following questions: Do you or will you have to travel a lot? Do you have a lot of late nights? Do you often need to entertain your clients? Do you break plans, personal plans, because of work? Are you too tired from work to spend time with your partner? Does the next step in your business mean a move for you?

To summarize, do you have to travel? Are you traveling? Do you have late nights? Do you need to entertain? Do you break plans? Do you say you're too tired to spend time with your partner because of all the time you're putting into your business? Do you have to change your living situation at all?

If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then your partner may feel their spot in your life is threatened by your business. Number one is do they feel threatened? Number two, are they feeling as if they are inconvenienced or are they inconvenienced?

When work in your business gets busy or requires you to be away from your partner or your family, it can create an imbalance or an inconvenience at home. I do think that this is more prevalent when you've got little kids because when you're gone, this may leave your partner with more than his or her fair share of the responsibilities of home duties, or they might have to change their schedules in order to accommodate yours, or you not being there.

One reason why they may not be on board with your big thinking is because they're being inconvenienced. Now, I am not saying that they can't be inconvenienced or shouldn't be inconvenienced. I'm not even saying that being inconvenienced is a bad thing. But I just want you to recognize the second thing here that we're talking about is being inconvenienced.

Number three, jealousy. I think this is a bigger one than we give credit to. This came up a lot in our retreat, this topic. If your partner is not experiencing growth or success in their career or their own business like you are, or they feel stuck or unhappy in their current work situation, they may feel jealous of what you have and your passion for it.

Your partner may be stuck in the rut. Even though they want you to be happy, they also don't want to be left behind. As you're thinking bigger, as you're being ambitious, they feel as if they are being left behind. They don't maybe have the drive that you have, or they're just happy with where they are, or they're just capped out, they can't take on any more. All of that may create some jealousy. So jealousy is number three.

Now, number four, I don't think, is necessarily the highest one, but it does happen. They could be concerned for your safety. Depending on your line of work, depending on what you're doing, they may genuinely have concern for your physical safety, or your mental safety, your mental health.

This can often be seen in partners of first responders, medical professionals, they see that your business, your ambition is taking a toll on your mental state. They don't love that because then it takes a toll on them. That is number four. Are they worrying that it is impacting you mentally, your mental health, or even your physical health?

Number five, they don't take you or what you're doing seriously. This goes back to that, “Oh, how's that little business going? How's your side hustle going? Is it still working for you? Do you love it?” That kind of thing.

They may not think that your business is as important as you think it is, so they can easily dismiss it. This then creates this lack of interest in what you're doing or a belittling attitude.

I see this often when people say, "I wish I could just get my husband on board. I wish I could get my partner on board. He just doesn't take this as seriously as I'm taking it. He doesn't get it." That could be a reason. They are not thinking it is as important as you are. That's their actions, behavior, or challenge in talking about your business with them.

Here's number one six and I talked about this one in my book with one of the clients who I describe as doing marketing for companies and her wanting to go after bigger clients.

She was super stressed out that her husband would not be on board with this because he would say, "You should just be grateful for what you have." If your spouse or partner has really deep-rooted beliefs surrounding money or the idea that you should be grateful for what you have, then they might not see your ambition or your big thinking as valid because why are you doing that? Isn't what we have good enough?

They have beliefs really centered around worthiness. They might think it's greedy to want more than you've been given. Or they might think as if they're not good enough for you, they're not providing enough, that you have to go out and want more. But that's not the case, I don't think, my friends. I think most of you who are going out there and wanting more are doing it because you want it not because you're not grateful.

There's a big difference between being grateful for what you have and settling for what you have. This is really more the reason you're doing things is because you're just not settling for what you have. That's a lot different than being grateful for what you have. Is that you?

Here's number seven, they're not bought in or enrolled in your vision or your dream, and therefore, the risk in their mind is not worth it. We've got deep dreams and desires, and oftentimes we don't share them because we don't see how we can reach them, so we decide we don't want to share them, even though they're there.

When I do a Vision to Action Intensive, one of the breakthrough things that often happens is I am giving my clients the permission to share those and to say them out loud and when they finally do, it feels so good. It feels so good.

But your spouse or your partner can't be bought in unless you're sharing this. When we make the decision to go for what we want, to them, it might just seem like an idea that came out of the blue, even though you've been thinking about it for years, potentially. They're not bought in is number seven. Because they're not bought in, they see this whole thing as just being risky.

Here's the last one, number eight, your dream, your goal, your ambition, your big thinking goes against your partner, spouse, or loved one’s current, what I'm going to call belief system.

We have some deep-seated beliefs in our subconscious minds. This is psychology. Since we are the product of our environment, many of these beliefs are passed down to us from our parents, from generation to generation. Maybe you want to become a bestselling author, or maybe you want to grow your business to a million dollars, and your partner has beliefs around how difficult that is, or how most businesses fail within the first two years.

So when you tell your partner that you're writing a book, that you're investing in yourself, that you want to spend money on coaching, or that you want to put more into your business because you want a new product line, to them it seems wasteful or impossible. It's going against their deep-seated beliefs, that people who do that always fail, that writing a book is impossible, or coaching is useless. They don't even know what coaching is. But number eight is that it goes against their deep-seated beliefs.

Let's just recap these again. Number one was feeling threatened. Number two was being inconvenienced. Number three is jealousy. Number four is concerned for your safety. Number five, they don't take it seriously. Number six, they think you should be grateful for what you have. Number seven, they're not bought into your dream, thus it's not worth it. Number eight, whatever your dream or goal is, whatever your big thinking is, it goes against their belief system.

Understanding what is at the heart of their “lack of support” will determine the path that you're going to take to move forward, to resolve this, or to get clarity around it. Notice, none of those eight things are really about you. They are about the impact of what you're doing on them.

They're predicting a little bit how it's going to impact them. All of those eight things are about them. They are not about you. They are not about your big thinking. They're not about your dream.

So what do you do? I'm going to give you four ideas on how to create this elusive balance between your partner and your business. How do you balance your ambition, your big thinking, and happiness with your partner?

Because once you have an idea of why your partner isn't really supporting this, you can figure out what to do about it. But you also need to get clear on you first, even before you have a conversation about it.

This is what I mean by this. You've got to number one, get clear on what you want, both in terms of your goal, your big thinking, your dream, and in terms of how you want to feel when you're communicating this and requesting support. You want to get clear on how you want them to receive this conversation.

I want you to take time, a couple of times a day, to mentally rehearse the conversation. Not how you think it will go, but how you want it to unfold. This is about having some thought options. You've got thoughts already on how you think it's going to go. I want you to have some thoughts on how you would like it to go and how you want to feel in that conversation.

Here's something else that you need to do. You need to get them on board, enroll them maybe is a good word in your big thinking, your dream, your vision, not just for you, but for you as a family, and let them know that when you're pursuing this, when you are channeling your ambition around it, you are really in the fullest, happiest expression of yourself. You are living your purpose. You then can be more present for them.

Number two is you've got to communicate what's in it for them. What's in it for them is that when you're doing this, you're a better spouse, you're a better partner, you're a better mom.

Number three, the third thing you've gotta get clear on, when you're speaking to them about it, from fear, worry, doubt, or lack, that's really their belief systems doing the talking. That's really stemming from their belief system doing the talking.

I wouldn't argue with their belief system, but I would rather ask questions so that you can get to the root cause of their belief system and address that. They might not even be aware that they are thinking some of these things like it's impossible to publish a book or that coaching is useless. I want you to just get curious. You're going to be a big question generator.

The fourth thing that you've got to get clear on before you clean any of this up, is you've got to ask them to trust you. Trust. Remember, TRUST is the acronym for big thinking. You've got to acknowledge their concerns, you've got to let them know you understand, and let them know that the cost or what's at stake of you not following through on your big thinking or your dream is worse than not doing it at all.

What's at stake is your mental health. You might want to say something like this, and I did pull this from the article, “I know this doesn't make sense to you right now. So I understand your concerns. I also know you love me and want me to be happy and the best version of me. This is important to me and I want you to be a part of it. I want to know that I have your support, but I'm prepared to move forward if I don't and I still love you.”

You might want to say something like that. I pulled that, not from that Psych Central article, but from an article another coach wrote, and I will try to find her name and put it in the show notes.

To summarize how to handle this, here are the things that I want you to do: I want you to listen to their concerns, take them to heart, empathize with their fears, be really clear about your big thinking, dreams, and goals, and how you're going to achieve them or how you think you might achieve them. I want you explain the importance of why this is also important to you and welcome them in your decision-making.

But also know what you're willing to give up or not give up and stick to that. Don't just compromise. Asking for what you need from a compassion standpoint, not an action standpoint is very helpful. Asking them to just come alongside you.

They don't need to do anything. They don't need to solve anything. I'm sure you've all been in discussions about that. What do you want me to do? I don't want you to do anything. I just want you to love me and play with me your role as a spouse or a partner and have some compassion for what I'm trying to accomplish and my dreams, goals, and big thinking.

Even give them some words. “It could sound like this,” you could say to them. It could sound like this, “I'm so happy that you're going after it. Have a great trip. I'm glad you went and were able to spend time with those other women.” “Yes, go for it. Try a new product.” “Uh-huh. I think you should invest in that.” Give them some words.

But here's what not to do. Don't be combative. Don't be defensive. Don't just dismiss their concerns. And don't give up on your dreams completely. Don't give up. This is really likely to be a hard conversation, but how you approach the conversation should stem from what you think is at the root of their non-support.

Remember how we're defining support, we're not talking about financial support, and how the conversation goes also stems from how well you're able to communicate where you're at and what you need. This is an opportunity to improve your communication.

The last thing I want to leave you with here is, is there a level of compromise in all of this? Learning where and what to compromise is tough. You don't want one person to feel like they've given up more than the other. This is going to depend, this compromise is going to depend on having a healthy relationship with the person, an honest one, and committing to yourself and your business.

It's not one or the other, it's an and, it's not an or, it's an and situation. Because if you don't have both of those things, it can lead to resentment, lack of fulfillment, and depression.

You know you're going to be on the right track when no one is feeling like the winner or the loser. Instead, you're both feeling respected and very secure in where you're going together.

My friends, what you have to offer the world, your gifts are too important not to be shared. I’m not saying that this is going to be easy. I know you're going to face challenges, but if you can overcome those, the rewards and growth can't even count them.

So consider recognizing all of this as just another opportunity for growth. You're getting better at communicating. You're getting better at taking a stand for yourself. You're getting better at being courageous, you're getting better at giving people permission to step into their greatness and their gifts.

At this point, you really have a choice. You can either buy into their fear or you can buy into your dream. Only you can do this. They can't support you in this in the sense that you're maybe wanting like you want them to be all-in, they might not be, but you still have a choice. You can be all-in, and you can realize maybe why they're not all-in, and you can continue to communicate and foster your relationship so that maybe your relationship grows stronger.

Maybe when everybody's living up to their highest potential, they're not feeling stuck in resentment for being held back, both things are going to win: your relationship and your business.

Okay, moms and women, go think big. The dads, the spouses, the partners, they'll come along eventually. It may not be at the rate you want them to come along but if you can use some of these tactics, I'm guaranteeing you'll have a better relationship.

That's what I have for you today. I encourage you to go pick up a copy of She Thinks Big if you haven't done that because I describe some of these scenarios in there. You can find She Thinks Big on Amazon or any of your favorite booksellers. I also encourage you to head over to and book a call with me.

If this is something that you want more help with or you just want to have a conversation around, you have that complimentary call as a resource available to you. Take advantage of it. Why not? All right, my friends, until next time, keep thinking big. Remember, this is your time to level up. See you soon.

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I'm Andrea Liebross.

I am the big thinking expert for high-achieving women entrepreneurs. I help these bold, ambitious women make the shift from thinking small and feeling overwhelmed in business and life to getting the clarity, confidence and freedom they crave. I believe that the secret sauce to thinking big and creating big results (that you’re worthy and capable of) has just two ingredients – solid systems and the right (big) mindset. I am the author of best seller She Thinks Big: The Entrepreneurial Woman’s Guide to Moving Past the Messy Middle and Into the Extraordinary and host of the Time to Level Up podcast.